I am in my mid-20s but continue to suffer from mood swings when I get my period. I also feel bloated, have sore breasts and the occasional skin breakout. Why do these symptoms happen, and what can I do to ease these symptoms? I read that exercise and eating certain foods can help.


Bloating, mood swings, sore breasts and skin breakouts are common symptoms when women are menstruating. Some women also suffer from cramps in the lower belly or back, and fatigue during this time.

They could be due to changes in the levels of female hormones (i.e. progesterone and oestrogen) during the menstrual cycle. Changes in brain chemicals like serotonin and that in the body like prostaglandins may also play a role in contributing to these symptoms.

To alleviate these symptoms, you can:
• Take warm baths or apply a heat pack over the lower abdomen, and massage to manage painful cramps and body ache. Over-the-counter medications like NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can also help;
• Limit salty foods and keep well hydrated with water to help reduce bloating. To promote a good balance of fluids, avoid carbonated beverages, alcohol, spicy and oily food, and eat more protein-rich foods such as chicken and fish, as well as potassium-rich food such as bananas and tomatoes; and 
• Drink plenty of water. Adopting a good skincare routine can help with skin breakouts that occur when hormonal changes lead to an increase in oil production and clogged pores.

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise to help release serotonin, the so-called happy hormone, calming activities like massage, yoga and medication, and period-friendly food rich in fibre, magnesium, calcium and omega-3 can also help.

If pain or other symptoms are unbearable or are affecting your quality of life, seek medical advice.