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What Causes Nausea Before Your Period, and How Is It Treated?

Why it happens

Feeling queasy? You may experience a range of symptoms in the second half of your menstrual cycle. This period of time after ovulation and before bleeding begins may trigger things like headache, fatigue, and nausea. These symptoms are part of what’s called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Experts estimate that some 85 percent of menstruating women experience at least one or more symptoms of PMS each month.

You may feel nauseous as your body goes through hormonal changes before your period. The usual cramps and headaches may also make you feel sick to your stomach and generally unwell. Your cycle also triggers a group of chemicals in your body called prostaglandins that may cause anything from headaches to nausea to diarrhea.

Keep reading to learn how you can try to prevent and treat nausea at home. The first step is creating a plan of action and finding what remedies work for you.

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Home remedies

Home remedies for quick relief

If you’re feeling nauseous, there are things you can do right now that may help.

You can
  • Get fresh air or sit in front of a fan.
  • Apply a cool compress to your forehead.
  • Drink water to stay hydrated.
  • Eat bland foods, like bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day to keep blood sugar steady.
  • Try ginger candies or sipping ginger ale made with real ginger.
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood, or engage in other moderate exercise for 30 minutes.

Natural remedies

Natural remedies for continued relief

Not only are herbal teas warm and comforting, they may also have the power to help knock out your nausea. They’re also generally safe to drink throughout the day.

Ginger

Ginger, for example, may help with anything from PMS and pregnancy nausea to seasickness. Although scientists don’t universally agree that this herb cures nausea, many studies favor ginger over placebos. The anecdotal evidence is strong, too. In fact, you’ve probably heard people suggest drinking ginger ale to help ease a stomach illness.

You can make a simple ginger tea by taking a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeling it, and simmering for 10 to 20 minutes with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water.

Ginger teas, like Swanson Organic Ginger Root Tea, are also available at your local grocery store or online.

Chamomile

Chamomile has been used in medicine for thousands of years. It’s said to be a digestive relaxant and may help with anything from flatulence to motion sickness to nausea and vomiting. Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with other premenstrual symptoms like uterine cramping.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh chamomile flowers, you can make tea by pouring a cup of boiling water over 3 to 4 tbsp. of the buds. Let steep for five minutes, and consider flavoring with a sprig of mint. Otherwise, try making bagged tea, like Taylors of Harrogate Organic Chamomile Tea.

Peppermint

Peppermint is yet another herb that may ward off nausea and vomiting. Studies on people undergoing chemotherapy have shown that peppermint may help significantly with nausea and vomiting. It also happens to taste great.

You can make fresh peppermint tea by tearing up a handful of fresh peppermint leaves. From there, steep for between three and seven minutes in 2 cups of boiling water. Strain and drink. There are also bagged peppermint teas available at stores, like Traditional Medicinals Peppermint Tea.

Essential oils

Not into tea? Some people swear by aromatherapy to help with nausea and other conditions. In other words, you may feel better after inhaling ginger, chamomile, or peppermint essential oils using a machine called a diffuser. That said, studies are mixed on whether or not aromatherapy provides much relief.

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Supplements and medications

Supplements and medications for long-term relief

Vitamins and supplements are another option, especially if you’re looking for long-term relief.

Vitamin B-6

Vitamin B-6, for example, may have the power to ease nausea and vomiting.

In a study on nausea during pregnancy, women were given vitamin B-6 throughout the day. In a group of 31 women, 15 had nausea before the study. That number dropped almost by half — to just eight — after taking the vitamin. Doctors suggest taking between 50 and 100 milligrams of vitamin B-6 daily.

Other vitamins and minerals that may help ease nausea include:

Other supplements that may help ease nausea include:

NSAIDs

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications may also help ease your PMS symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help reduce pain, inflammation, and prostaglandins in the body. Varieties include aspirin (Bayer) and ibuprofen (Advil).

Always speak with your doctor before starting new vitamins, supplements, or medications. Some may interact with certain medical conditions or medications that you’re already taking. You should also read labels carefully to ensure you’re purchasing quality supplements from reputable manufacturers.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms you may experience

Premenstrual symptoms vary from woman to woman. That said, there are a number of other things you may experience along with nausea.

This includes:

  • acne breakouts
  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • backache
  • pain in joints or muscles
  • appetite changes
  • issues with concentration
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • depression
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Premenstrual nausea vs. pregnancy nausea

Is it premenstrual nausea or pregnancy nausea?

In some cases, it may be difficult to tell whether your nausea is the result of PMS or a sign of pregnancy.

To figure it out, consider the timing of your symptoms:

  • Nausea related to pregnancy generally begins around the 9-week mark. Some women report feeling it sooner, but it often gets worse during this time frame.
  • Nausea related to your menstrual cycle, on the other hand, would happen soon after ovulation and before your menstrual period begins.
  • Pregnancy-induced nausea may last for weeks on end, through the first trimester and sometimes beyond.
  • PMS-induced nausea generally subsides 12 to 16 hours after the start of your period, but may last as long as five to six days. Typically, though, it should be gone once the bleeding ends.
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Early symptoms of pregnancy

Early symptoms of pregnancy

Feel you may be pregnant? There are other early signs that may help clue you in. Nausea — with or without vomiting — is one of the more classic symptoms associated with pregnancy. While it’s often called “morning sickness,” nausea may strike at any point during the day.

Other early symptoms include:

  • missed or late period
  • breast tenderness and swelling
  • increased urination
  • fatigue

If pregnancy is a possibility, consider taking a home pregnancy test or contacting your doctor for a blood test. Early and regular prenatal care is important to fostering a healthy pregnancy.

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See your doctor

When to see your doctor

You may also want to make an appointment with your doctor if premenstrual symptoms like nausea are interfering with your everyday life. In some cases, taking hormonal birth control may lessen your symptoms from month to month.

In other cases, you may have a condition called premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD). This more severe form of PMS may respond well to lifestyle changes, but some women find prescription medication helpful in the long term.

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