Before you blame your lunch for your upset stomach, take a quick glance at the calendar or your menstrual cycle tracking app. That nausea could be a sign your period is on the way.
As Taraneh Shirazian, MD, a gynecologist at NYU Langone Health, explained, hormonal shifts occurring in the body around the time of your period, like during PMS, are responsible for that queasiness and even changes in your bowels, like diarrhea. Specifically, Dr. Shirazian explained that PMS symptoms are side effects from the surge of a hormone called LH and the decline of a hormone called progesterone.
Nausea is no doubt uncomfortable, but according to Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn and sexual and reproductive health expert for Intimina, a company that makes intimate health products, it's not usually cause for concern unless it's severe, persistent, worsening, or continues after the onset of your flow.
"Don't forget, nausea is a common sign of early pregnancy so if you are late for your period, check a test," Dr. Dweck added.
PMS symptoms usually disappear once your period begins, but there are things you can do to help soothe some of the discomfort in the interim. Dr. Dweck said that mint and ginger might be helpful, as well as avoiding foods that are triggering to you.
As a rule, if your PMS symptoms are interfering with your lifestyle and limiting what you're able to do on a daily basis, you should contact your doctor for advice and guidance.
"I think if you're very symptomatic around PMS and your period, you definitely should talk to your physician about possibly using something hormonal [birth control] to level the hormones so that your body doesn't notice the natural flux of the LH surge and the progesterone withdrawal," Dr. Shirazian said.