When my period is over it feels like someone has just flipped a switch

Photo of a mother comforting her daughter on sofa

Gabrielle, 44 years old:

“A few days before my period starts I get irritable and my breasts hurt and feel tender. Sometimes I also feel quite depressed.”

I had my first period when I was 13. But I can’t remember much about that time. I still remember that I always had bad bellyache, and sometimes heavy menstrual bleeding as well.

Things have got worse over the years. A few days before my period starts I get irritable and my breasts hurt and feel tender. Sometimes I also feel quite depressed. I’m tired and exhausted, my digestion is sluggish and I have gas. The thing that bothers me the most is that a few days before my period starts, I start getting a lot of pimples on my skin, especially around my mouth.

Some months are worse than others. But I generally feel that I’ve gotten a handle on my symptoms over time. Except for the pimples – even my doctor says that there’s not much we can do about that. It’s just my . Nothing works – whether I stop eating sweet foods or try anything else, they always appear. My period never comes very regularly. But when I get pimples around my mouth, I know that it’s about that time of the month again.

The PMS symptoms start about two days before I get my period. Things get a little better once my period starts, but on my “heaviest” day the symptoms are a little worse too.

When my period is over, I start feeling much better. I stop being so irritable. It feels a bit strange, like someone has just flipped a switch.

Exercise helps with my cramps

I don’t take any medication and I try to relieve my symptoms by getting exercise and eating right. Exercise helps with my cramps. I like being outdoors, and I walk and jog a lot. Plus I have a dog, so I need to take him out once a day. I try to eat whole foods: for example, I usually go for foods with whole grain flour in them, rather than plain flour. I feel like that has helped me. A hot water bottle also helps, and every now and then a cup of tea.

I also tried birth control pills for a while, and then my symptoms weren’t quite as bad and the bleeding wasn’t as heavy. But after a while I didn’t want to take the pill anymore. I usually only take medication as a last resort. I know that things will get better on their own after a day or two.

Although things have been like this for a long time, I still get upset simply because it limits what I can do.

I have three daughters. One of them also has problems with her period. She gets bad bellyache. My oldest is now taking birth control pills, but she used to have problems too. She even took painkillers then, especially while she went to school.

Whenever one of them complains of bellyache it’s a sure thing that she’s getting her period. But in our home it’s not a big deal. My husband has gotten used to the mood swings too. We’ve been married for 25 years now. The children also recognize when it’s “that time of the month” again. You know what to expect and are ready for it.


Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Updated on May 18, 2022

Next planned update: 2025


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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