For some women, the period of menstruation is one of the best periods of womanhood, why for some other women, it’s the most annoying and tiring period of womanhood. I know most ladies crave to know exactly what happens in their bodies during their menstrual cycle; they want to know why they have cramps and some others want to know what happens after the menstrual period.
Before we jump into the why’s and what’s questions about menstruation, let’s know a little about menstruation.
Period or Menstruation
Menstruation (or period as some of us call it) is a duration of days (in a month) or time of the month when a woman/female experiences normal vagina bleeding or flow of blood from the vagina. This flow of blood from the vagina (or normal vagina bleeding) occurs because of the hormonal changes in a woman’s body. What happens prior to the blood flow is that hormones (Luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone) are released (in a large amount) which stimulates the release of an egg (ovulation).
After the release of the egg(ovulation), estrogen and progesterone hormone is released which helps to build-up the lining of the uterus (womb) making it ready for fertilized egg.
When the egg is not fertilized, the level of estrogen and progesterone hormone will reduce and this reduction will stimulate the release of prostaglandins, and then the lining of the uterus will undergo involuntary contraction (spasm) and blood supply will be withdrawn.
After the withdrawal of the blood supply, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) starts to die and breaks or shed down along with blood from capillaries, the unfertilized egg, the mucus, and epithelial cells.
Ovulation lasts for 12 – 48 hours but a woman can still be fertile for up to 7 to 10 days.
Normal menstruation lasts for 3 – 5 days although 2 – 7 days can also be considered normal.
Eumenorrhoea – means normal or regular menstruation.
Amenorrhoea – mean absence of menstruation
Menorrhagia – means excessive bleeding during menstruation.
Dysmenorrhoea – means painful menstruation or cramps
Hypomenorrhoea – means scanty menstruation
Oligomenorrhoea – means infrequent menstrual periods.
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) – is a term used for the uncomfortable or unpleasant symptom(s) a woman experiences during her menstrual cycle that temporarily alters her normal functioning. The duration of these symptoms is between a few hours to 14 days (more or less).
These Symptoms of Your Period includes
- Moodiness or mood swings
- Vomiting and nausea
- Change in appetite or loss of appetite
- Diminished libido or decreased sex drive
- Sometimes swelling of hands, feet, and ankle
- Muscle spasm
- Heart palpitation
- Minor vision problems
- Pimples or acne
- Bloating (G.I.T. symptoms)
- Decreased coordination and organization
- Cramps (could be severe or mild) in the lower abdomen.
A woman starts her period when the body is ready and prepared to. But mostly period or menstruation starts between the ages of 8 – 15. Some girls can also start late, maybe at the age of 17 or 18. Most at times, the first period or menstrual flow starts 2 years after the breast starts to develop.
What causes menstrual pain or cramps?
Like I said earlier, prostaglandins are released to help the lining or walls of the uterus (endometrium) break down and shed. When the muscles in the uterus start to tighten up or contract, pain may occur, this pain becomes severe when a woman has high levels of prostaglandins. This pain can also occur in the pelvic region.
How to stop menstrual pain or cramps
- You can apply a hot water bottle, hot pads, or towels on the abdomen.
- Drink more water and fluids as often as possible.
- Avoid fatty, sugary, or salty foods or substances when you are on your period.
- Eat more of anti-inflammatory foods e.g. tomatoes, berries, cherry, etc.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, cigarette, and caffeine during menstruation.
- Sipping hot Lipton tea or chamomile tea helps to reduce menstrual cramps or pains.
- You can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like naproxen, ibuprofen or diclofenac potassium tablets. NSAIDs help to reduce the production of prostaglandin.
- Chewing ginger or taking ginger capsules helps relieve pains during menstruation.
- Curcumin (gotten from the root of turmeric) helps to relieve menstrual pain and other pre-menstrual symptoms. It can be taken days before the start of menstruation.
- Fish oil and Vitamin B1 (thiamine) – fish oil and vitamin B1 (thiamine) supplements can be taken daily during menstruation to help reduce pain.
- Mild exercises like squats, sit-ups, or short-distance jogging can also help relieve pains during menstruation. Also taking a walk help to relieve contraction.
- Vitamin D helps to decrease prostaglandin production therefore taking vitamin D can reduce menstrual pain significantly.
- Taking magnesium is important for body enzymes, regulation of blood pressure, regulation of blood sugar level, and relieving premenstrual symptoms and also reduces the risk of endometriosis.
- Massage on the abdomen, waist, and back for at least 5 minutes daily helps relieve menstrual pains and cramps. Massage can be done with creams or ointments containing essential oils.
- Acupuncture and acupressure also help to relax the body during menstruation.
- Good sleep is also a means of relaxation and helps to relax the body and relieve contractions.
- Warm baths are effective and help relax muscles and also soothe the pain. It is important to bath with mild soap to reduce allergy.
How to Calculate the Menstrual Cycle
A menstrual cycle is counted starting from the first day of the present period to the first day of the next period.
In young girls, menstrual cycles can be between 21 to 45days
While in adult females, the menstrual cycle can be between 21 to 35 days.
But the average cycle is 28 days.
How to count or Calculate Ovulation
Ovulation mostly occurs 12 – 14 days before period or menstruation starts.
The most fertile days are 3 days into ovulation. 12 – 14 hours after ovulation a woman becomes less fertile.
The possibility of getting pregnant during periods is low.
The life span of sperm inside the uterus can be up to 5 days after sex and there are high possibilities of pregnancy occurring if there is sperm in the fallopian tubes or uterus during ovulation.
You may have questions like
Is it safe to have sex during My Period?
It’s safe because the chances of getting pregnant are low but it’s unhygienic to have sex during menstruation. Although some people consider sex more enjoyable during menstruation because the blood flow from the vagina serves as a lubricant during sex. But it is very unhygienic because sex during menstruation is one of the fastest ways of getting STI’s (if your partner is infected).
Must the blood flow out of the vaginal during menstruation be red?
Changes in blood color during periods/menstruation is normal. It can sometimes be dark red or brown. This is due to a blood reaction with oxygen. But if the color becomes greenish, gray, or pink watery discharge please see a doctor.
It’s important to report any irregularity in the menstrual cycle to your doctor, and note that not all pain relievers are good for menstrual cramps some are harsh on the gastrointestinal tract and could cause intestinal bleeding.
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