Normal Period Symptoms

Fact checked

By SheCares Editorial Team | Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Because every woman's period is different, many might not be clear on what is considered as normal period symptoms.

These misconceptions cause some to accept severe or disabling symptoms as a natural part of menstruation or being a woman, while they should be seeking adequate care to address the underlying hormonal imbalance. Knowing how to tell the difference between normal and abnormal period symptoms is key to optimal physical and mental well-being.

Keep on reading to learn about menstrual cycle symptoms you can expect and how they differ from symptoms of menstrual disorders that call for an abrupt treatment plan.

Normal menstrual cycle symptoms

What are Normal Period Symptoms?

Normal period symptoms

Before diving into the list of normal period symptoms, it is essential to understand that what is considered “normal” to one woman can mean something else to another. In fact, monthly symptoms can change from cycle to cycle or throughout a woman's life.

Generally, normal menstrual cycle symptoms that are not indicative of menstrual disorders begin about one or two days before and last one or two days into the period.

Normal period symptoms mostly consist of mild physical discomforts and may include the following:1

Causes of Normal Period Symptoms

Menstrual cycle symptoms women experience are believed to be caused by natural fluctuations of reproductive hormones, mainly estrogen and progesterone, which guide the cycles. These changes may affect some women more than others.

The main reason why hormones are the most probable culprit is that the normal period symptoms appear in a predictable pattern on a monthly basis around the bleeding days.

Normal Period Symptoms vs. Abnormal Symptoms

Abnormal period symptoms

It is not unlikely for women to attribute any symptoms around their periods to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While PMS is common, not all women suffer from it.

For period symptoms to be classified as PMS, they have to include emotional symptoms alongside the physical ones.2,3 They may consist of the following:

Additional important distinctions between normal and PMS symptoms are as follows:

  • Duration. As aforementioned, normal period symptoms are typically experienced a day or two before the start of the period and might last for a day or two once bleeding begins. PMS, on the other hand, can start a week or two before the beginning of the period.

  • Severity. While normal period symptoms are mild and may be managed with home remedies or over-the-counter pain relievers, PMS symptoms can be severe enough to require stronger medications or more advanced medical intervention. 

  • Effects. Normal period symptoms should not affect a woman's daily functioning. PMS symptoms' severity, on the other hand, may disrupt her activities.

It is worth noting that when PMS symptoms become severe and include extreme psychological symptoms, like depression, anger, or apathy, they might indicate premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It is a mental disorder that affects 3-8% of women.4

How to Relieve Normal Period Symptoms

Because normal period symptoms are generally minor and short-lived, they can be handled with wholesome lifestyle practices, natural remedies, and – alternatively - mild pain-relievers.

Natural remedies for periods might consist of loading up on foods rich in phytoestrogens, like flax, oats, sesame, or sunflower seeds; applying a heating pad; drinking oregano or ginger tea; giving aromatherapy a try; and practicing yoga or other exercises to release pain-relieving endorphins.

For stronger discomforts, a woman can consider taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen.

Key Takeaways

Most women anticipate their monthly periods with significant apprehension, knowing all too well what is coming. In fact, most women assume that suffering from PMS symptoms is normal and somewhat expected. However, it is a common misconception that a period has to mean several miserable days taken out of one's life. The truth is that normal period symptoms are generally mild, short in duration, begin about a day or two before the start of a period, and do not interfere with a woman's daily activities. Menstrual cycle symptoms that are not indicative of a menstrual disorder can be easily relieved with wholesome lifestyle practices that focus on enriching diet with foods that promote hormonal balance, taking advantage of herbal remedies, and boosting endorphins with exercise. Knowing how to tell the difference between normal and abnormal period symptoms is key to optimal physical and mental well-being.