You can track your menstrual cycle by way of pills or an app, but when it comes time, your body will give you plenty of signs that tell you when your period is coming. For me, I always know it's on the way when I have an insatiable need to practically inhale a block of dark chocolate, or unyielding stomach cramps that demand I lay in the fetal position.
But every female body is different, and so is every period. Be on the lookout for these subtle signs your body may give you just before your period starts so you can always be prepared.
1. High Sex Drive
Ah, period sex -- you either love it or you hate it.
Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, practicing OBGYN and author of The Complete A to Z For your V, tells Elite Daily that women can feel particularly aroused around this time of the month due to fluctuations in their hormones.
2. Breast Tenderness
Many women experience breast tenderness that leaves the area extremely sensitive to touch.
This is because during days 14 to 28 of a woman's cycle, estrogen causes the breast ducts to enlarge, while progesterone production encourages milk glands to swell.
3. Breast Growth
Ladies, let's be honest here. We all have a few pairs of period panties and period bras on deck to throw on during this uncomfortable stretch of the month.
I swear, every time I get my period, I go up an entire cup size -- and apparently, I'm not alone.
Once estrogen and progesterone levels peak after ovulation, breast size increases. Then, when your period actually starts, your hormones return to their normal levels, and your breasts shrink back down to their usual size.
Translation: Buy yourself at least one bra in the next size up, just in case.
Another situation of extremes, you're either tired AF right before your period, or wide awake for no apparent reason.
Dr. Dweck says experts are unsure of the root cause, so if I were you, I'd have entertainment at the ready for late, sleepless nights.
There's always a one- to two-day time frame when I'll wake up looking and feeling my leanest just before period bloat takes over.
Dr. Jason James, a board-certified OBGYN and chairman of the Department of OBGYN at Baptist Hospital of Miami, told InStyle,
Hormone changes can slow down bowel motility, resulting in gas retention, which causes a swollen abdomen. Increased blood flow to the uterus can cause uterine swelling, which also leads to a bloated abdomen.
According to Dr. Dweck, between the lack of sleep and fluctuation of your brain's neurotransmitters, clumsiness naturally follows suit.
One foot in front of the other, ladies.
I have a major sweet tooth in general, but when mother nature knocks on my door, good luck prying me away from chocolate and French fries.
Unfortunately, salty foods are high in sodium, and sweets are loaded with artificial sweeteners that can be hard to digest. Instead, curb cravings with alternatives like unsalted pretzels, dark chocolate, and fruit.
8. Mood Swings
As much as I hate when people assume if you're cranky you're automatically PMSing, I'll be the first to admit I can be a monster around that time of the month.
Of course, this is not the case for everyone, but it still happens to plenty of women. One minute you're smiling, laughing, feeling like your best self, and the next you're crying over a text you probably misinterpreted because, TBH, raging hormones tend to fog your perception, and can even negatively affect your body image and self-esteem.
Just keep in mind your hormones are just messing with your head. You are a beautiful person inside and out, no matter what time of the month it is.
You can thank low estrogen levels if you tend to experience extreme headaches around this time of the month.
Fortunately, there are a ton ways to relieve the pain, from natural remedies like applying ice and praciticing relaxation exercises, to easily accessible, over-the-counter medication.
PMS sucks, period. But at least you can always tell when it's about to hit home.