Most people who get periods experience some cramping and pain in the few days before their period begins and into the first few days of menstruation. But can you experience cramps a week before your period? The short answer is yes, it’s possible, but cramps in that timeframe may be caused by something else.

Here we’ll talk about what cramps a week before your period may mean, and most importantly, how you can get some relief.

Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can vary widely by person, and while it’s not totally common, changes in estrogen and progesterone can cause cramping as much as a week before your period begins.

Cramps a week before your period may also be caused by other things. Here we’ll discuss what else may be causing early cramps.

Endometriosis

The World Health Organization says that endometriosis affects as many as 10 percent of reproductive age people with ovaries. With this condition, tissue similar to that found in your uterus (endometrial tissue) grows outside your uterus on your ovaries, bowels, or abdomen.

Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can affect the tissue, causing pain and inflammation as much as a week before the period should begin. Symptoms of endometriosis include, but aren’t limited to:

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are abnormal growths on your uterus. Some people who experience fibroids have no symptoms, and others may feel pain or discomfort. Symptoms may include:

Cysts

Ovarian cysts develop on an ovary. Most cysts will go away without treatment, though you may experience certain side effects while the cyst is present. These side effects include:

  • feeling full or bloated
  • pressure or cramping in your pelvis

Call your doctor if you experience vomiting, fever, or severe pelvic pain.

Implantation

If sperm fertilizes an egg, it’s possible to feel cramping when an egg implants into your uterine wall. This usually happens close to the time a period is expected, but depending on when ovulation and conception occurred, the implantation cramping could happen as much as a week before your period.

Other symptoms of implantation can include spotting or bleeding.

Ovulation pain

Some feel nothing during ovulation, and others will feel a twinge of cramping when an egg is released. You may also see discharge or spotting accompany ovulation pain.

Early period

Certain lifestyle changes and other factors may cause your period to come early. If your period is early, you may think you’re having cramps a week in advance, but it’s actually closer to the start of your cycle. You will likely experience other PMS symptoms too, like headache or fatigue.

Factors that may cause a period to arrive early include:

Menstrual cramps can be disruptive and debilitating at times, especially when they occur for as long as a week before your menstrual cycle arrives. Here are some ways you can relieve cramps and pain using home remedies for period relief.

  • Use a heating pad or take a hot bath, which helps relax your uterine muscles.
  • Take a pain reliever like ibuprofen, or something specifically designed for menstrual cramps, like Midol.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid excess salt, alcohol, and caffeine — anything dehydrating can worsen cramps.
  • Certain supplements like calcium, magnesium, and zinc may ease cramps.
  • Try acupressure.
  • Try yoga or other gentle exercise, which can relax your uterine muscles.

If you’re not sure if what you’re experiencing is routine menstrual pain or something else, or you have other concerning symptoms, talk with a medical professional. Make sure to connect with a doctor if your pain is causing a fever or vomiting, or if pain is so severe it’s making you miss school, work, or other events.

Period cramps are caused by prostaglandins, which help your uterus contract but also cause cramping and pain in your pelvis. It’s possible to experience period cramps a week before your menstrual cycle is set to arrive, but these pelvic cramps could also be caused by something else like endometriosis, fibroids, or ovulation pain.