We've all experienced the less-than-desirable side effects of menstruating — bloating, irritability, sore breasts, and, everybody's favorite, cramps. The majority of those who menstruate have faced these PMS symptoms time and time again. We've become accustomed to them, which can sometimes make it hard for us to decipher which side effects are normal and which aren't.
POPSUGAR spoke with Jennifer Wider, MD, a renowned women's health expert and author, who said there are a few PMS symptoms you should never ignore. Oftentimes women will just chalk up these experiences to part of being a woman, but there could be some real issues happening under the surface if your PMS symptoms are abnormal.
For starters, Dr. Wider said "serious mood swings" are worth talking to your doctor about. We don't just mean you get annoyed at your roommate for not cleaning the dishes. Rather, "if they are getting in the way of a normal day," you should speak to your medical provider. "Severe mood swings could be a sign of PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe form of PMS," Dr. Wider told POPSUGAR. This may require therapy and/or medication to treat.
Debilitating cramps or extremely heavy bleeding before or during your period are also not things you should just deal with on your own. Although cramps are normal, it's definitely not normal to have cramps so bad that you can't get out of bed or go about your daily life. Similarly, having to change a tampon every hour is never a good sign. These could indicate PMDD as well or other issues, such as endometriosis. Don't waste time, and chat with your doctor if any of this sounds familiar.
"Some women have a hard time falling or staying asleep in the week leading up to their period or first few days," Dr. Wider continued. Disrupted sleep may happen to a lot of women, but, like anything else, when it becomes so severe that it gets in the way of your day-to-day life, there are probably some treatments you can partake in to remedy it.
A general rule to live by is this: if your period significantly gets in the way of your everyday routine, it's worth talking to your doctor about. You may be dealing with some underlying issues, and there are certainly some treatments out there to make your period a lot easier to handle.