The average woman will cycle through 450 periods during her lifetime and spend about 3,500 days menstruating. Even though women spend a significant portion of their life in flow, many know very little about their menstrual cycle and how it impacts the body. These monthly changes can vary greatly from one woman to the next. You may even notice some inconsistencies within your own.
But many women experience cramping at different points throughout their cycle. Cramping a week before a period begins can happen for perfectly natural reasons. But sometimes, cramps a week before a period signal cause for concern.
This may leave you wondering, “Why am I cramping a week before my period?” Keep reading to learn possible causes and the best remedies for cramps a week before a period.
The Menstrual Cycle Explained
The first day of your period begins your menstrual cycle, which prepares the womb in women of childbearing age for pregnancy every month. When a sperm doesn’t fertilize your egg, you get your period to clean out your uterus.
The day your menstruation ends begins the follicular phase. Your uterine lining thickens to cushion a potential baby and follicles grow in your ovaries.
About halfway through your cycle, ovulation occurs. Your ovary releases an egg that travels through the fallopian tube and leaves you fertile for several days.
When the egg begins its descent toward your uterus, the luteal phase starts. Your body begins producing progesterone to prepare your uterine lining for implantation which leads you to either pregnancy or a rise in estrogen and then menstruation for a cycle reset.
Why Am I Cramping a Week Before My Period?
Is this question weighing on your mind? It can feel frustrating, and even scary, to not know what’s happening inside your body.
Maybe you experience cramping every month and just want to know why. Or possibly, this just started and left you wondering if something is wrong.
Menstrual cramps can come on a week before your period begins for a number of reasons. So, the cramping itself may not tell you much.
This can lead to unnecessary anxiety. Plus, cramps are uncomfortable!
Paying attention to what else is happening with your body during that time can help you pinpoint the cause. Tracking your cycle every month and writing down details like when your period begins, how many days it lasts, and what symptoms occur throughout the entire month can help you learn your normal. This makes it easier to answer your questions.
Hormonal Cramps a Week Before Period
Changing hormones during the luteal phase may cause cramping. Right after ovulation, the spike in progesterone relaxes your uterus.
This prevents it from contracting in case the fertilized egg implants. When the egg does not get fertilized, your estrogen levels spike about one week before your period begins.
Estrogen signals peristalsis of the uterus. These mild muscle contractions allow you to push out all of the unneeded extra linings.
The continuous squeezing of any muscle can cause pain and cramping. So this normal part of the process can be a simple ache.
If it feels more than a little achy, you may be experiencing a hormonal imbalance. When progesterone drops too quickly and estrogen rises fast, it can cause sudden and extreme uterine contractions that really hurt. Signs of this imbalance include acne, mood swings, gluteal weight gain, and heavy periods.
When your ovary pushes out an egg into the fallopian tube, it can sometimes hurt. Follicle growth stretches out the membrane on your ovary.
Remember, the follicle and fallopian tubes are very narrow structures with something moving through them. The blood and fluid released during the transition may also irritate your peritoneum.
Check your cycle tracker to see if this matches your ovulation date. Count the number of days between the first days of each period for the last several months and then divide the average by two.
This will calculate ovulation for most women. But it can vary depending on the length of your period and other factors.
Implantation Cramping a Week Before Period
Sometimes cramping one week before your period calls for congratulations. You could be pregnant!
Around one week prior to your expected period, a fertilized egg will nestle into your uterine lining. Some women can feel this happening.
The body may react with mild cramping in the center of the lower abdomen and back. You might also notice implantation bleeding.
It might trick you into thinking that your period came a week early. But you will notice that it only produces small amounts of pink or brown blood and will not last as long as normal menstruation. You can check in a few days with a home pregnancy test!
Certain triggers can throw off the date of your expected period by a week. These may include stress, weight loss, medications, illness, and more.
As your period begins, your uterus contracts to push out the endometrium. Cramping begins before any blood shows because the blood stems from your lining tearing away from your uterine wall.
In the case of earlier-than-expected menstruation, you may notice other normal period symptoms as well. Bleeding should begin soon.
Abnormal Cramps Week Before Period
Sometimes cramping can signal something outside of the norm going on within your body. Changes in hormones during your cycle can cause an onset of conditions that require a doctor’s care.
Ovarian cysts may cause cramping along with pain on one or both sides of your lower abdomen. These may go away without treatment, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Uterine fibroids cause more centralized pain. You will also notice pelvic pressure and painful intercourse.
Endometriosis causes your uterine lining to grow on structures outside of your uterus. This causes extremely painful cramps and can lead to infertility when left untreated.
Period Cramp Solutions
Feeling crampy can affect your life in major ways. At times, it may even cause you to miss work, skip fun social events, and act irritable.
Even when period crams come from a perfectly normal cause, it doesn’t mean that you must suffer through them. Try some simple home remedies to help ease your discomfort.
Taking the right supplements for PMS every morning can help ease your discomfort while diminishing other unpleasant symptoms as well. Check out the science behind some key period vitamins, minerals, and herbs.
Vitamins B6 and B12 both reduce inflammation which can cause enhanced cramping during your menstrual cycle, making them great PMS vitamins. B6 triggers the release of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and reduces histamine while B12 breaks down homocysteine.
Calcium citrate regulates muscle contractions, which can settle down rigorous cramps. By reducing bloat, magnesium glycinate also makes cramping less noticeable.
Chasteberry fruit extract balances out the levels of estrogen and progesterone. Creating equilibrium can make your cycle through life much smoother.
Period vitamins cannot substitute a doctor’s care for conditions caused by abnormal cramping. But they may still help ease your discomfort, with the exception of pregnancy, in which case you should only take supplements recommended by your doctor.
Use heat along with supplements to help ease your cramping. Place a heating pack on your lower back and abdomen.
Warmth relaxes muscles. So it will calm a rigid uterus that is causing you pain.
Warming up the body also dilates blood vessels. This increases blood flow to the area which helps with healing and muscle recovery.
Try heated rice packs scented with lavender oil. The sweet scent will calm and relax you.
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling crampy. Fortunately, your daily PMS vitamins also boost energy to get you in the mood for this type of activity.
Moving around increases your body’s natural endorphins that relieve pain and make you feel better overall. Begin in Child’s Pose with your knees open to the outer edges of your mat.
Move into a slow Cat-Cow wave to ease muscles in your back and abdomen. After a while, transition to a few Sun Salutations, mainly to pump up your feel-good chemicals.
End with a long Half-Pidgeon on each side to open your hips. Breathe slowly and deeply, which will further help you cope with discomfort by calming your fight or flight response.
Skin-to-skin contact releases healing chemicals and natural painkillers inside the body. Pressure from the massage further relieves discomfort and relaxes muscles.
Splurging on a massage or asking your partner for one will put you into a state of bliss while offering long-term cramp relief. You can even reap the benefits by massaging yourself!
Place your hands on your hips and use your thumbs to work your lower back. Use much gentler pressure in the front and use your fingertips to massage your abdomen.
Appreciate Your Cycle
Symptoms like cramps a week before a period give the menstrual cycle a bad name. But remember each phase makes it possible for women to grow new life.
Even if you want to stick with getting your period for a long while, the process keeps your reproductive parts happy and functioning for the day all of that changes. Shop now for a formula made to make your cycle a happy one.