PMS & Cramps

PMS

PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. It’s when the hormones that control your menstrual cycle cause changes in your body and emotions around the time of your period.​

Some people get PMS every time they have their periods. Others only get PMS every once in awhile. You may have all or just some PMS symptoms. And some people don’t get PMS at all. There are two main kinds of PMS symptoms: the ones that affect you physically and the ones that affect you emotionally.​

Physical symptoms of PMS include:​

  • Craving certain foods or being more hungry than usual
  • Tender, swollen, or sore breasts
  • Feeling bloated (puffy or full in your stomach)
  • Gaining a little weight
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling in your hands or feet
  • Aches and pains in your joints or muscles
  • Feeling more tired than usual or needing more naps
  • Skin problems, like pimples
  • Upset stomach
  • Cramps or pain in your belly​

Emotional symptoms of PMS include:​

  • Feeling sad, depressed, tense, or anxious
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling more irritable or angry than normal
  • Crying suddenly
  • Not feeling very social or wanting to be around people
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep​

In order for a doctor to officially diagnose you with PMS, you need to have PMS symptoms for at least 3 months in a row. They must start in the 5 days before your period and interfere with some of your normal activities, like school, work, or exercise. If you think you may have PMS, keep a record of your period and symptoms each day for at least 2-3 months.​

Other conditions, like perimenopause and thyroid disease can act like PMS, so visiting a doctor is the only way to know for sure what’s going on.​

Some people have really severe PMS that’s called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). PMDD symptoms can be really scary and may include feeling out of control, depressed, having panic attacks, or even feeling suicidal. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of PMDD, see a doctor as soon as possible.​

Cramps

Menstrual cramps are one of the most common symptoms to have before/during your period. They can be very painful, or just a little uncomfortable. The cause is, during your period, your uterus contracts – meaning it squeezes or cramps up. This makes the lining come off the walls of your uterus and leave your body. When your uterus cramps up, it’s helping the period blood flow out of your vagina.​

Most people get cramps during their periods at some point in their lives. They usually feel like throbbing pains in your lower belly. They can start a couple of days before your period comes, and sometimes continue throughout your period. Cramps are usually worse during the first few days of your period, when your flow is the heaviest.​

You can get cramps as soon as you get your first period. Your periods may get more or less painful throughout your life. For many people, cramps become less painful as they grow older.​

You can calm cramps by taking pain medicine (like ibuprofen). Putting a heating pad where it hurts, taking a hot bath, exercising, resting or stretching your body can also help.​

Sometimes people have period cramps that are so painful it’s hard to do everyday things (like go to school or work). If your period pain is really bad, and over-the-counter medicine doesn’t help, talk with your doctor. They can help with other ways to manage the pain, or they may want to check to see if there’s something more serious going on.​

Cramps that are really bad may be a sign of:​

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – an infection in your reproductive organs.
  • Endometriosis – a condition where the lining of your uterus grows outside of your uterus.  
  • Adenomyosis – when the tissue that lines your uterus grows into the muscle wall of your uterus.
  • Uterine fibroids – non-cancerous tumors that grow inside your uterus, in the walls of your uterus, or on the outside of your uterus.​

Cramps caused by these conditions may start when you’re older. And they might get worse as time passes. They can also last longer than other cramps or last longer than the last day of your period.

Pads, Tampons and Cups

Pads (sometimes called sanitary pads) are narrow pieces of material that you stick to your underwear. Some have “wings” or flaps that fold over the sides of your underwear to protect against leaks and stains. Some pads are made out of disposable materials – you use them once and throw them away. Other pads are made from fabric, and can be washed and reused.

Pads come in different sizes – they can be thin for when you’re not bleeding much (pantyliners), regular, or thick for heavier bleeding (“maxi” or “super” pads). You can use whichever kind feels most comfortable to you.​

  • Stick the pad in your underwear using the sticky strip on the back. Some reusable pads are held in place with snaps or the elastic in your underwear.
  • Change your pad every few hours, or when it’s soaked with blood.
  • Wrap used pads in the wrapper or toilet paper and throw them in the bin. Flushing used pads or wrappers down the toilet will clog it up.​

Tampons are little plugs made of cotton that fit inside your vagina and soak up menstrual blood. Some tampons come with an applicator that helps you put in the tampon. Tampons have a string attached to the end, so you can easily pull them out.​

Menstrual cups are shaped like little bells or bowls, and they’re made of rubber, silicone, or soft plastic. You wear the cup inside your vagina, and it collects menstrual blood. Most cups are reusable – you just empty it, wash it and use it again. Other cups are disposable – you throw it away after one use or one period cycle.​

Be aware: tampons and cups can stretch and even break your hymen (a membrane that sits at the opening of the vagina and partially covers it, breaking it means ‘’losing your virginity’’).

Period Prohibitions

There are certain acts of worship you are not allowed to perform when you are on your period. Once your period has ended and you have done ghusl (purifying wash), you can resume the acts of worship that you weren’t allowed to previously perform. The below are the period prohibitions:​

Prayer​

Women are not allowed to pray during their period until it ends and ghusl is performed. But, be mindful of the time you started your period:​

  • If your period started at the beginning of the prayer time and you had enough time to complete one full rakaa, you will have to make it up once you are purified. 
  • If your period started at the end of the prayer time, i.e. fajr – before the sun rose, and you had enough time to complete a rakaa, you will have to make it up once you are purified.​

But don’t worry if you started your period just a moment after the prayer time began or ended, you do not have to make them up.​

You can however, do dhikr, takbeer, say Subhaan-Allaah, praise Allah, say Bismillaah when eating and so on and read hadeeth, fiqh and dua’s, or saying Ameen to dua’s, and listening to the Quran.​

You can also go out to Eid prayers during your period to witness and join the celebrations – just make sure to avoid the prayer place.​

When it comes to reading the Quran, scholars are divided. The hadeeth that says women who are on their period or have not yet purified themselves after intercourse should not recite the Quran is weak. Plus the logic: is that obviously women had their periods at the time of the Prophet (S.A.W) and if reading the Quran was not allowed, like prayer was not, this would have been explained to us. The Mothers of the Believers would also have known and told people.​

The general advice though is that it is better for a woman on her period to not recite the Quran out loud except when she has to i.e. she is a teacher.​

Fasting

A Muslima is not allowed to fast when they are on their periods – whether obligatory or nafil fasts, but you have to make up any obliatory fasts that you missed.​

If you start your period during a fast, the fast becomes invalidated even if your period comes moments before Maghrib. You have to make up that day if it was an obligatory fast. ​

If you only feel the symptoms of your period before Maghrib and there is no blood until after sunset, then your fast is complete and it isn’t invalidated.​

If dawn comes and you are still on your period, you shouldn’t fast that day even if you did your ghusl just moments before dawn. But, if your period ended just before dawn and you intended to fast, the fast is valid even if you didn’t do ghusl until after dawn.​

Tawaaf around the Kaba​

A Muslima on her period can do everything that pilgrims do but they are not allowed to circumambulate the Kaba.​

So, if you do tawaaf when you are pure and then your period came immediately after, or during sa’ee, there is nothing wrong with that.​

Tawaaf al-wadaa’ (the farewell tawaaf) is waived​

If you complete the rituals of Hajj and Umrah and then your period starts before you leave, you can go without doing the farewell tawaaf.​

But the tawaaf that is required for Hajj and Umrah is not waived and you must do it once you are purified.​

Staying in the mosque​

A Muslima on her period is not allowed to stay in the mosque.​

Intercourse​

It isn’t permissible for a Muslima to have sex with her husband when on her period.​

Divorce​

A husband and wife are told to divorce at a time when they haven’t had sex and the wife isn’t on her period. It is sinful for a husband to divorce his wife when she is on her period.​

If the divorce happens when you are on your period, you have to make up and resume the marriage until you have had another period – so, you become pure, start another period and become pure again. Only then, should you decide to either stay married or get divorced (don’t have sex either until you decide).​

The exceptions to this are:​

  1. You get divorced before sex or intimacy.
  2. You get divorced during pregnancy.
  3. You compensate your husband to divorce you.​

Even though divorce and periods have specific rules, there is nothing wrong with entering into a marriage contract when you are on your period –  there is nothing to suggest otherwise. But remember not to have sex during your periods.​

Calculating the waiting period after divorce by means of the menstrual cycle

If you decide to divorce before sex or intimacy with your husband, there isn’t a waiting period for the divorce to be effected.​

But if you were intimate or have had sex, you have to observe the waiting period which takes one of the following forms: ​

  1. If you menstruate, you have to wait for three complete menstrual cycles after the divorce, i.e. your period comes then you become pure, then it comes again and you purify yourself, then your period comes again and you become pure. That is three complete menstrual cycles, regardless of whether the time between them is long or short. So, if your periods stopped because you are breastfeeding, you have to wait until it starts again and you complete three menstrual cycles.
  2. If you are pregnant, you have to wait until the pregnancy ends – no matter how long you had left.
  3. If you don’t have your periods anymore i.e. because of menopause or an illness that stopped it completely (hysterectomy), the waiting period is 3 months.
  4. If your periods stopped because of a known reason, wait for it to return, then complete the waiting period according to your menstrual cycle.
  5. If your periods stopped and you don’t know why, scholars say you should wait for a full year – nine months for pregnancy and three months for the waiting period.

The menstrual cycle

Your menstrual cycle helps your body prepare for pregnancy every month. It also makes you have a period if you’re not pregnant. Your menstrual cycle and period are controlled by hormones like estrogen and progesterone.​

You have 2 ovaries, and each one holds a bunch of eggs. During your menstrual cycle, hormones make the eggs in your ovaries mature – when an egg is mature, that means it’s ready to be fertilised by a sperm cell. These hormones also make the lining of your uterus thick and spongy. This lining is made of tissue and blood with lots of nutrients to help a pregnancy grow.​

About halfway through your menstrual cycle, your hormones tell one of your ovaries to release a mature egg – this is called ovulation. Most people don’t feel it when they ovulate, but some ovulation symptoms are bloating, spotting, or a little pain in your lower belly that you may only feel on one side.​

Once the egg leaves your ovary, it travels through one of your Fallopian tubes toward your uterus.​

If pregnancy doesn’t happen, your body doesn’t need the thick lining in your uterus. Your lining breaks down, and the blood, nutrients, and tissue flow out of your body through your vagina – this is your period.​

If you do get pregnant, your body needs the lining – that’s why your period stops during pregnancy. Your period comes back when you’re not pregnant anymore.​

When can I get pregnant during my menstrual cycle?​

You have the highest chance of getting pregnant on the days leading up to ovulation (when your ovary releases a mature egg) – these are called fertile days.​

Your egg lives for about 1 day after it’s released from your ovary, and sperm can live in your uterus and Fallopian tubes for about 6 days after sex. So you can usually get pregnant for around 6 days of every menstrual cycle: the 5 days before you ovulate, and the day you ovulate. You can also get pregnant a day or so after ovulation, but it’s less likely.​

Ovulation usually happens about 14 days before your period starts – but everyone’s body is different. You may ovulate earlier or later, depending on the length of your menstrual cycle. Many people track their menstrual cycles and other fertility signs to help them figure out when they’re ovulating.​

Some people have very regular cycles, and other people’s cycles vary from month to month. It’s really common for young people to have irregular periods. Since your period can be unpredictable, it’s hard to know for sure when you’ll ovulate (even if you’re carefully tracking your menstrual cycle).

Irregular periods & Istihaadah

Irregular periods​

You have irregular periods if the length of your menstrual cycle keeps changing and your periods may come early or late. After puberty, many women develop a regular cycle with a similar length of time between periods. Keeping track of your periods and symptoms on a menstrual cycle calendar or in an app is good way to learn what’s normal for your body, and help you know if anything changes. But it’s not uncommon for it to vary by a few days each time. There are many possible causes of irregular periods and sometimes they may just be normal for you.​

Common causes include:​

  • puberty – your periods might be irregular for the first year or two
  • the start of the menopause
  • early pregnancy 
  • some types of hormonal contraception
  • extreme weight loss or weight gain, excessive exercise or stress
  • medical conditions – such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a problem with your thyroid​

There might not be anything wrong, but it’s a good idea to get checked out to see what the cause might be. When to see a doctor​

  • your periods suddenly become irregular and you’re under 45
  • you have periods more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days
  • your periods last longer than 7 days
  • there’s a big difference (at least 20 days) between your shortest and longest menstrual cycle
  • you have irregular periods and you’re struggling to get pregnant.​

Istihaadah​

It is important as a Muslima to recognise the difference between your period and istihaadah (non-menstrual vaginal bleeding). A lot of the time, istihaadah bleeding happens when your period is irregular.​

The key thing to look out for when distinguishing the two are:​

  • Colour: menstrual blood is darker.
  • Consistency: menstrual blood is thick and heavy, whilst the blood of istihaadah is thin.
  • Smell: menstrual blood smells whereas the blood of istihaadah doesn’t.
  • Clotting: menstrual blood usually doesn’t clot but the blood of istihaadah does because it comes from a vein.​

If you have just finished your period and then started bleeding again, look to the above guide to know whether it is your periods again or istihaadah.​

There is a maximum length of time to be on your period for muslima’s – 15 days. Do your ghusl (purifying wash) on the 16th day as bleeding that is longer than 15 days is classed as istihaadah.​

For istihaadah bleeding, make sure to do your wudhu for each prayer.​

What happens if I had a regular cycle and then experience istihaadah?

So, you used to have regular periods – coming around the same time every month and lasting the same number of days. You are now having irregular bleeding and you don’t know what counts as your periods and what counts as istihaadah:​

  • You know your regular regular cycle i.e. how many days between your periods (usually 21-35 days apart) and how long it lasts:
    • Act as though you are on your period on your next calculated menstrual  cycle, even if the blood looks different. This means don’t pray e.t.c and then do ghusl and go back to praying when you believe your period has ended according to your previous cycles (even as you continue bleeding).​
  • If you know how many days your periods last but you can’t remember when in the month it used to come but you think you know i.e. you think it is as the end of the lunar month:
    • Go along with when you think it might be and then stick to however many  days you know your periods usually last (must not be over 15 days).​
  • If you don’t know how long your periods last because you don’t know when in the month it used to come:
    • Start counting your period from the beginning of each lunar month.​

What happens if my periods were always irregular?

So, if you always had irregular bleeding:​

  • If you never had a regular period before – you have been experiencing istihaadah since the first time you got your periods:
    • Distinguish between the different types of blood. You are on your period if it is dark / thick or has a distinctive smell to it. Anything other than that is istihaadah.
  • If you can’t tell the difference between your period and istihaadah i.e. because the blood is all the same:
    • You should follow the general period patterns of women, so your periods last six / seven days every month starting from the first time you saw blood. Anything after that is istihaadah.

Menstruation

Menstruation (also known as having your period) is when blood from your uterus drips out of your vagina for a few days every month. You start getting your period during puberty, usually when you’re around 12-15 years old but some people get them earlier or later than that. There’s no way to know exactly when you’ll get it, but you may feel some Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms a few days before it happens.

If you don’t get your period by the time you’re 16, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor.

Most people stop getting their period when they’re between 45 and 55 years old – this is called menopause.​

Your period may start and stop around the time it did for other people you’re related to, like your mom or sisters.

Most people get their period every 21-35 days – around once a month (that’s why periods are sometimes called “that time of the month”). The bleeding lasts for 2-7 days – it’s different for everyone. Your period might not always come at the same time each month, especially when you first start getting it. It can take a few years for your period to settle into its natural rhythm, and some people never get regular periods throughout their lives.

There are lots of ways to deal with the blood that comes out of your vagina when you have your period. You can use pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup.​

How do I know if my period is coming?

Some people get signs that their periods are coming – like bloating, pimples, sore breasts, and feeling emotional. Many people get cramps in their stomach, lower back, or legs before their period. These symptoms are called PMS. Not everybody has signs that their periods are about to start. And sometimes the signs change month-to-month. As you get older, it usually gets easier to tell when your period is coming.​

Many people mark the days they have their period on their calendar or on an app. Keeping track of your periods will help you know when your next period is coming. It can also tell you if your period is late or early. It’s really common to have periods that don’t come at the exact same time every month – especially when you’re a teenager.​

Keeping a pad in your bag can help you be prepared for your period, no matter when it shows up. If you start your period and don’t have a pad, you can ask a parent, friend, teacher, or the school nurse for one. Some bathrooms also have vending machines where you can buy a pad. If you’re REALLY stuck somewhere without a pad, you can fold up a bunch of toilet paper or a clean sock or washcloth and put it in your underwear to soak up the blood.​

If your clothes accidentally get stained, you can wrap a sweater around your waist or ask to go home. You can also keep a change of clothes in your locker / car.​

What’s a normal period?

Normal periods are different from person to person. They can also change over your lifetime. During your period, it’s normal to bleed anywhere from 2 to 7 days. It may seem like a lot of blood comes out, but most people only lose about 1-6 tablespoons of blood and tissue during each period. Period blood can be red, brown, or pink. It’s also normal for it to be kind of clumpy at times. If your period is so heavy that you have to change maxi pads every hour, it’s best to see a doctor.​

During the first few years of your period, it might not always come at the same time every month. You may bleed more or less, or have different PMS symptoms month-to-month. As you get older, periods usually get more regular and it’ll be easier to know what’s “normal” for you.

Even though it’s normal to have periods that aren’t always regular, missing a period can be a sign of pregnancy.​

How do I know if my period has ended?​

  1. You might get a white discharge which comes from the womb to show that the period is over, or
  2. You are completely dry.