Nausea is not pleasant to experience at any time, but there are a variety of reasons why you may become nauseous before your period. One of the simplest reasons is the change in hormones that occurs in your body before and during menstruation.
For some women, these hormonal changes may stimulate the stomach to secrete additional gastric juice. This contains hydrochloric acid. These gastric juice acids can produce mild nausea, along with heartburn and vomiting.
You may also experience nausea due to pain, before or during your period. The pain is usually in the lower abdomen. If you have painful periods, the prostaglandins released from the uterine wall can lead to painful contractions. This can lead to nausea, as can stress, if you’re experiencing PMS and know that you also will experience pain during your period itself.
Nausea and PMS
Nausea is a common symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), and it can be very unsettling and unpleasant.
When you are nauseous, you may lose your appetite, and it can be harder for you to handle your regular daily activities. If your nausea is severe enough, you may also have trouble with vomiting.
Nausea before your period is sometimes mistaken for a pregnancy sign, and if you’re not trying to become pregnant, this is worrisome. Unlike the nausea associated with pregnancy, however, nausea associated with PMS occurs each month right before your period starts. It disappears when your normal menstrual bleeding begins.
Is having Nausea before a Period Normal?
Most women with PMS experience nausea as a part of that. As a rule, feeling nauseous before your period begins is not a signal that something is wrong. Don’t be afraid to call your physician if the pain is worse, or different, than you usually experience.
PMS is the main reason you may feel nausea before your periods. Nearly 75% of women who still have periods experience some PMS symptoms. It is widely accepted to be a result of hormone levels in your body at this time.
In addition to hormones, other factors can lead to PMS. They include eating fatty or salty foods, drinking too much caffeine and a fluctuation in the chemicals of the brain.
Nausea before a period occurs for a multitude of reasons:
- You may be nauseous due to other body pains that are associated with PMS. These include breast pain and headaches.
- You may be nauseous due to the startup of period pain. Menstrual cramps can cause muscle spasms, which in turn can cause nausea and discomfort.
- You may experience hormonal imbalances in the exact area of the brain that is responsible for nausea and vomiting.
- Your PMS hormone changes may affect your digestive tract function, which can cause nausea.
In addition to nausea before your period, you may experience other PMS symptoms. They include mood swings, irritability, exhaustion, insomnia, lower back pain, abdominal cramping, cravings for certain foods and retention of water.
Could You Be Pregnant?
Nausea is a common issue with pregnancy, but there would be other symptoms that you won’t have if your nausea is related to PMS. At three weeks pregnant, the fertilized egg goes through the fallopian tube and into the uterus. In this case, you would also experience brown or pink spotting.
If you are pregnant, you will likely also experience frequent urination, a higher than normal sense of smell, nausea, food aversions, fatigue and tender breasts. If you have none of these symptoms, there is a good chance that your pre-period nausea is associated with PMS, rather than with pregnancy.
If you have any doubts, take a home pregnancy test 5-7 days past the date that your period was due.
Relief for Nausea before Periods
There are various remedies that may be helpful to you when you’re trying to stave off PMS nausea.
- Drink ginger tea. Ginger has anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be quite beneficial in the fight against PMS symptoms, including nausea.
- Use home remedies. These include herbs and aromatherapy. Speak with your physician for additional ideas, and find a reputable herbalist to help you decide which herbs to use. Some effective herbs include cloves, mint and cayenne.
- Take in more vitamin B6. Supplements are available that contain this vitamin, or you can eat foods that are rich in B6. This vitamin helps with any nausea, whether it’s related to PMS or pregnancy. Some foods high in vitamin B6 include:
- Cooked spinach
- Lean beef
- Lean pork
- Dried fruits like prunes, apricots and raisins
- Poultry, like chicken & turkey
- Fish, including tuna, herring, halibut and wild salmon
- Nuts, like pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts, peanuts, walnuts and hazel nuts
- Seeds, including sunflower, pumpkin, flax and sesame seeds
Stay away from fatty foods, since they can cause bloating and exacerbate nausea.
- Try acupressure. The PC6 acupressure point on your wrist can be manipulated to help fight nausea. Purchase a Sea Band ® or a similar band that will fit right where it needs to, in order to put pressure on the PC6 point.
If your feelings of nausea are not responsive to herbs or natural remedies, contact your physician. Nausea can be an indicator of other underlying conditions that you don’t want to ignore. Your physician can prescribe effective, strong medicines to fight nausea. Your physician may also treat the rest of your PMS symptoms, as well. Oral contraceptives are helpful in getting rid of nausea before periods.
What do others Say?
Some women don’t experience nausea before their periods, even while many women do. Here are two cases of women who did:
One woman believed that the nausea she experienced before her periods was caused by stress. However, she experienced other issues, too, like mood swings and a tenderness in her breasts. She missed the start of her period, so she took a pregnancy test, and it was positive.
Another woman recalls that it has always been difficult for her to deal with the few days just before her period started. She would have not only nausea, but also vomiting, which only made her feel worse. She also had severe cramping during her period. Her physician put her on a medication for the PMS symptoms and she no longer has serious nausea, just a minor nuisance.