Periods are normal and healthy but very complicated process involving the brain, ovaries and uterus. Hence, the misunderstandings. Whether it is your first period of life or 100th, there are always some questions revolving around it. We spend hours searching for the answer to our question but the truth is periods aren’t rocket science. . The solution to most of the problems lies in the basics and that is happening because we don’t know or overlook how our menstrual cycle works. All you need to know and understand is the basics of your period cycle.
Once you understand your cycle you can identify what is normal for you. When you’ll ovulate, when you’ll menstruate and why you had your period early or missed, all this can be identified from your cycle. This article has all the information you need about menstruation and the menstruation cycle from the very basics.
What is menstruation?
Menstruation, commonly known as a period, is the normal monthly phenomenon occurring in female mammals in which the shedding of the uterine lining occurs. The blood is discharged through the vagina consisting of blood and the mucosal tissues. A usual menstrual cycle is of 28 days but it could vary in some women.
The occurrence of the first menstrual cycle in girls is called menarche. It usually happens between the ages of 10-16. However, some can start before the age of 10. It’s a milestone in women health. menstruating at the average age of 12. Whereas, when the period stops permanently in life, it is called menopause. In this, a woman stops producing eggs. This happens after the age of 50.
What is a normal menstrual cycle?
Understanding how menstruation works can help you understand how your own cycle works. The entire menstrual cycle or period cycle is of 28 days. These days are divided into 4 phases. During these phases, a lot happens in a female body which includes the thorough activities of the brain, ovary and uterus. However, according to research, the length and patterns of the menstrual cycle could vary from woman to woman.
1. Menstrual Phase (Day 1-5)
It is the phase when the bleeding occurs. It usually lasts for 3 to 5 days but for some women, it could last up to 7 days. In this phase, through the vagina, the bleeding occurs and it consists of the blood, mucous and uterine tissues. The level of progesterone and estrogen is very low in the body.
2. Follicular Phase (Day 6 -14)
The follicular phase starts from the 6th day and lasts up to the 14th day. When the bleeding stops, the uterus once again starts preparing itself for the cycle. During this time, the level of estrogen in the body rises, which causes the endometrium in the uterus to grow and thicken. Meanwhile, during this phase, the hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland to start releasing Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH causes follicles to grow in the ovary.
3. Ovulation Phase (Day 14)
The rising estrogen levels during the follicular phase trigger the pituitary gland to start releasing luteinizing hormone. On the 14th day of the cycle, the surge in LH releases the egg. If sperms are present, fertilization may take place. If the egg is not fertilized, it disintegrates after about 24 hours. Once the egg is released, the follicle seals over it and this is called the corpus luteum.
Corpus Luteum releases hormones, progesterone and estrogen. The rise in these hormone levels keeps your uterine lining thick and ready for a fertilized egg to implant.
4. Luteal Phase (Day 15-28)
The luteal phase starts from the 15th day and lasts up to the 28th day until the period starts. The released egg reaches the uterus through fallopian tubes. The level of progesterone rises which prepares the uterine lining. If the sperms are present, fertilization occurs, if not the egg starts disintegrating. The drop in estrogen and progesterone level happens and the lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual phase.
General overview of the menstrual cycle:
The menstrual cycle includes several phases. The exact timing of the phases of the cycle is a little bit different for every woman and can change over time. This is a general overview, considering the cycle is of 28 days.
|Phase name Days (approximate)||Events of the menstrual cycle|
|The Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)||The first day of menstrual bleeding is considered Day 1 of the cycle. The period can last anywhere from 3 to 8 days, but 5 days is average.|
|The Follicular (Days 6-14)||When the bleeding stops, the endometrium begins to prepare for the possibility of a pregnancy. It grows and becomes thicker. The level of progesterone starts increasing.|
|Ovulation (Day 14)||On day 14, an egg is released from one of the ovaries and begins its journey down the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The level of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is responsible for ovulation|
|Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)||In this phase, the journey of the eggs starts. It reaches the uterus through fallopian tubes. If the egg is fertilized, pregnancy occurs. If the egg is not fertilized, the level of progesterone and estrogen drops which signal the uterus to prepare to shed the lining. The cycle begins again on Day 1 menstrual bleeding.|
What is normal bleeding?
Normal bleeding varies from woman to woman. The total blood loss over the course of the period is around 2-3 tablespoons but secretions of other fluids can make it seem more.
The period may be short, long, heavy, mild depending on person to person. Normal menstrual bleeding has the following features:
- Your period lasts for 3-8 days.
- Your period comes again every 21-35 days (measured from the first day of one period to the first day of the next).
The doctor should be consulted in case of both excessive bleeding and very low bleeding.
What are some of the symptoms of normal menstruation?
Normal menstruation can have many symptoms every month.
2. Cramps in the lower abdomen and back
5. Difficulty in sleeping.
What Is Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
Pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS is the time that occurs before periods starts. It is a very common condition. The exact causes are unknown however, it is believed that the fluctuations in the hormone levels of the body are the reason behind it. It affects the physical, emotional health and the behaviours of a woman. includes mood swings, acne, bloating, anxiety etc. These symptoms are a general indicator that you may start your period shortly. They go away on their own once the bleeding starts.
What symptoms may indicate a need to contact my doctor about my period?
If you feel there is something not right with your cycle, consider consulting a doctor. Some of the symptoms for which we highly recommend consulting with a doctor are-
1. If your periods have not started by the age of 16.
2. Your periods are not regular.
3. If your period doesn’t come every month timely.
4. If your period stops suddenly
5. If you are bleeding too heavily or too lightly.
6. If you are bleeding for more than the usual days.
7. If you are bleeding in between the cycle.
8. Excessive and unbearable period cramps during the periods.
9. If you have a problem using a period product like pads, tampons or menstruation cups.
10. If you feel the fertilization has occurred and you are pregnant.