PMS? Menstrual Cramps? Dysmenorrhea? All you need to know about Periods

It’s once again the time of the month where you feel like an absolute mess, your emotions are at an all-time high, and you’re hurting EVERYWHERE. You want to hibernate till it’s all over so that you can be the lady boss that you are, but sadly we don’t always get what we want. As someone who feels your pain, here is a comprehensive guide on everything that you need to know to get through the worst period of the month – your period.

Here’s what we will be covering in this article:

  • What is PMS
  • What is Dysmenorrhea
  • What are period symptoms and remedies
  • What period products are there
  • What brands of pads are there (and reviews)
  • How to track your period
  • How to stop/delay periods
  • Abnormalities in periods

If this is the first time you are having your period and you have no idea what’s happening to you, you might want to check out our article on what a period is exactly along with common period myths before moving on.

What exactly is PMS?

PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome – a term so commonly used by every lady when they start to feel easily irritable or experiences mood swings 5-10 days before their period, is a condition that tends to affect most women. It is not known why some experience more severe symptoms than others, but here is a list of what would increase your chances of getting PMS:

  • Your mum has it (it runs in the family)
  • You experience high levels of stress
  • You don’t exercise often
  • You consume a lot of caffeine

Common symptoms:

  • Tend to feel more irritable, sad, anxious and angry than usual
  • Lack of focus and alertness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Swollen breasts
  • Cramps
  • Low back pain

So, what is the difference between PMS and Dysmenorrhea?

Dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps, mostly occurs just right before or during your period. While PMS is caused by a change in hormone levels, dysmenorrhea refers to pain caused specifically by menstrual cramps. Menstrual cramps occur when contractions that happen in the uterus/womb are too strong, pressing against the blood vessels nearby which in turn cuts off the supply of oxygen to the uterus.

Common symptoms:

  • Aches in the back, inner thighs, and hips
  • Pressure and pain in belly
  • Loose stools
  • Stomach aches
  • Vomiting

For a more comprehensive insight into all you need to know about menstrual cramps, click here

How do I make my period more bearable?

There might be many other period symptoms that are bothering you, on top of the ones mentioned before:

Chances are when you ask this question, you are referring to how you can stop or minimise the pain that you get from menstrual cramps. We have written many articles previously on how to relieve menstrual cramps through drug free methods, traditional Chinese medicine, easy home remedies, and also how to combat period cramps when you are at work.

Here are 5 basic hacks on how you can make the worst time of the month a little better:

  1. Drink Up (No, Not Alcohol)

Increase your water intake as it helps to reduce the pain of period cramps, while easing other regular period symptoms like bloating. If you are a tea drinker, you might find the following articles on teas you should drink and avoid during your period very useful!

  1. Eat Right

Try to fill your diet with foods that are rich in healthy fats and minerals. This means saying yes to salmon, eggs, dark leafy greens, berries, bananas, and cherries and saying no to processed foods. For an extensive list of helpful minerals and vitamins to consume to help with your period (and in which foods to find them in specifically), scroll to the end of the article linked here! If you’re too tired to even chew anything and just want something hot and soupy, here are 3 tasty and nourishing soup recipes that aid in your menstrual cycle for you to try out.

  1. Rest Well

Head to bed early! Not only will sleeping more help to ease the pain from period cramps, it also makes us less irritable which is definitely a plus.

  1. Move About

While every inch of you would likely prefer to lie in bed forever, light exercises have been proven to reduce period cramps. This ranges from yoga to brisk walking or anything that gets your heart rate up.

We have previously written an article on exercise tips you should know when you are on your period and how you can exercise with your menstrual cycle. If you love to swim and are afraid that you’ll have to give that a miss when your period comes, consider trying out these 6 methods to get your swimming fix!

  1. Get Hot

menstrual cramp relief

Heat has been clinically proven to help ease period cramps and are at times proven to be as effective and efficient as pain-killers, if not more! You could carry a bottle of hot water around your abdomen area and refill it constantly with hot water or you could just stick a heat patch on your abdomen like MenstruHeat.

What are some period products for me?

We all know the usual menstrual pads (scroll down further for a list of pad reviews where we tried them out just for you!), which some say is the most convenient but the least comfortable and environmentally-friendly option. If you are feeling adventurous and are keen on exploring other period products, here’s a list:

  • Tampons (review of the 3 most popular tampons in Singapore)

  • Menstrual Cups (guide on how to use it and review from a first timer’s point of view)

Sanitary Pad Brands and Reviews

  1. Secret Day – Korean Sanitary Pads [시크릿데이 생리대] (review)
  2. Yejimiin – Korean Sanitary Pads [건강한 예지미인] (review)
  3. Padeve Herbal Sanitary Pads (review)
  4. Adore Sanitary Pads (review)
  5. Laurier Super Slimguard Pads (review)
  6. Kotex
    1. Kotex Super Overnight 41cm (review)
    2. Kotex Luxe (review)
  7. Sofy
    1. Sofy Overnight Pads (review)
    2. Sofy Compact (review)
  8. Whisper
    1. Whisper Skin Love Ultra Slim (review)
    2. Whisper Ultra Clean Ultrathin Pad (review)
  9. Kotex Ultrathin vs Whisper Ultra Clean vs Laurier SuperSlimGuard vs Sofy Ultra Slim (review)

If Laurier, Whisper or Kotex caught your eye, we’ve also compiled a list of the cheapest places to get those sanitary pads in Singapore here!

How to track your period

The last thing you would want is for your period to ruin your plans, so it’s important to keep track of when’s your next period is coming! Here are a couple of ways for you to track your period:

  1. Diary

You can go old school and jot it down in your planner/diary, but you would have to manually count the days for at least a few cycles, estimate your cycle length from there and would not receive any notifications. That said, this works for the ones with extremely regular periods. (Lucky you!)

  1. Digital Calendar

An upgrade from a physical diary, you can utilise the calendar on your smartphones to take down the dates and set up a notification to remind you every time your period is due. You still have to manually count the days for a few cycles and estimate your cycle length from there!

  1. Period Tracking Application

The most convenient of all, most mobile period tracking applications available on the application stores offer the basics of tracking your period and can decently predict when your next period will come. However, few provide personal health insights (at least not without a fee!) and that’s where we come in to solve this problem. pslove is in the midst of developing a period tracking application which you can sign up for here to gain early access!

How to stop/delay your period

Perhaps you have plans to go on a trip overseas during the upcoming holidays and as Murphy’s Law states, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. The dates of your trip just had to coincide with the days where your period is supposed to come, and you feel totally bummed out.

Fret not, for there are Period Delaying pills to the rescue!

Period Delaying pills as the name suggests, contains a synthetic female sex hormone (progesterone) called Norethisterone. You shed your uterine lining when your progesterone levels are low, which happens when your ovum is not fertilised. Having high levels of female sex hormones will thus trick your body into not shedding your uterine lining, hence delaying your period.

If you are just sick and tired of having periods altogether, you can consider getting a hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD).

IUD
Photo Source: @washingtonpost via Tumblr

There are a few types available worldwide, but the one available in Singapore is called Mirena. While it is made with the goal of preventing pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus such that sperms cannot fertilise the egg in the uterus, hormonal IUDs have the additional side effect of stopping periods! One-fifth of all Mirena users noted that their periods stop after a year, and it is also FDA-approved as a treatment for heavy bleeding during periods. If you’d like to find out more, you can click here.

Abnormalities in Periods

There are 4 main abnormalities when it comes to periods, and the reason as to why you are experiencing the abnormalities below varies from one person to another. They are considered abnormal when:

  • Heavy periods
    • Blood loss > 80ml each cycle
    • Period length of > 7 days
  • Menstrual blood clots
    • Significantly large
    • Occur when you are not having your period and are not pregnant
    • Severe cramps and pain occurs when the blood clots are released
  • Spotting
    • Bleeding is from rectum/urethra
    • Spotting heavily during pregnancy
    • After sex
  • Late periods
    • You missed your periods for months

Now that you’re more well-equipped with information regarding your period, here’s to better control over your periods!

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Jia Qi Chua

An introvert that can be bribed with free food or a fluffy corgi/pomeranian. Will squish anything that looks soft. Also likes to roll around in bed.