The menstrual cycle has several discreet events, the most noticeable of which is the menstrual period. Some women also experience minor discomfort around the time of ovulation, or release of the egg, but for many this event goes entirely unnoticed. During the average 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14. Ten days after ovulation—on day 24 of her cycle—a woman is rapidly approaching menstruation, which is often accompanied by a host of bothersome symptoms.
Many women experience some breast tenderness in the days before they expect to get a period. For some, this discomfort is nothing more than a minor irritation, whereas others find it to be extremely uncomfortable and even painful. Mother Nature, a website dedicated to finding home remedies for symptoms, suggests that soft, supportive bras without underwires can help relieve breast pain—some women even go so far as to sleep in them.
The hormonal changes that precede a woman’s period can lead to bloating in the abdomen and the extremities, particularly the fingers and feet. The Mayo Clinic notes that this symptom is largely due to water retention and recommends staying well hydrated—as paradoxical as it seems—to relieve the bloat. The Mayo Clinic also suggest eating a high-fiber diet and reducing salt intake in the days to week before a menstrual period.
Crabbiness, tearfulness and general irritability are classic signs of an impending period. By day 10 after ovulation, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels are falling quickly, and changes in hormone concentrations bring about moodiness and increased mood volatility. Period Symptoms, an Internet site providing information about the menstrual cycle, notes that some women find it helpful to track periods to gain a bit of warning before the moodiness sets in.
The body’s major task during menstruation—assuming that the egg released during ovulation was not fertilized—is to rid itself of the spent uterine lining and prepare for the ripening of another egg. Around the tenth day after ovulation, falling hormone levels cause the lining of the uterus to atrophy, or waste away, and begin to slough, or peel away from the uterine wall. The uterus, a very muscular organ, then begins a series of slow contractions that last for several days to peel this lining further and expel it. Many women feel cramps in their lower abdomen or lower back—these are signs that the uterus is working to push out the old lining in preparation for forming a new one in the next cycle.