A GUIDE TO MENSTRUAL CYCLE

WHAT IS FEMALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM?

The Female Reproductive System is designed to carry out several functions. It produces the female egg cells necessary for reproduction. The system is so designed to carry the egg to the site of fertilization. The next step for the fertilized egg is to implant into the walls of the uterus, beginning the initial stages of pregnancy. If fertilization and/or implantation does not take place, the system is designed to menstruate.

The Female Reproductive System includes parts inside and outside the body. The main external structures of the female reproductive system include:

The internal reproductive organs in the female include:

  • Vagina
  • Uterus
  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian Tubes

WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL CYCLE? 
Every month female body goes through a complex cycle known as Menstrual Cycle(or Period Cycle). This is the cycle of hormonal activity that repeat at about one-month intervals. The term menstruation refers to the periodic shedding of the uterine lining. (Menstru means “monthly.”) This cycle happens so that you can have a baby one day if you want to. The average menstrual cycle takes about 28 days and occurs in phases: the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase (ovulation), and the luteal phase. There are four major hormones involved in Menstrual Cycle:

WHY DO FEMALES HAVE PERIODS?

Every cycle, female ovaries release an egg known as ovum. The ovum then travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If you have sexual intercourse around this time, the ovum may be fertilized by the man’s sperm and you may become pregnant. The ovum then travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If you have sexual intercourse around this time, the ovum may be fertilized by the man’s sperm and you may become pregnant.

Every cycle your body prepares a special lining in your uterus just in case you become pregnant. This lining is called the endometrial lining and it is a soft spongy lining of tissue and blood to nourish and protect a growing baby.

If you do not become pregnant, your body sheds the endometrial lining and it leaves through your vagina. This is your period! Your period is a mixture of the endometrial lining and blood.

WHEN DOES MENSTRUATION START AND STOP?

A first period is known as Menarche. Usually a period starts about two years after the breasts first start to develop (known as puberty).  Studies have shown that the girls who have their first menstrual period after the age of 14 have a much lower risk of developing endometriosis in later life.

Women over 35 may start to notice that their menstrual cycle shortens to less than 28 days. The stopping period of Menstrual Cycle is known as Menopause. This can happen anytime after 45, and usually by 50, due to less progesterone being produced by the body.

WHAT ARE THE PHASES OF MENSTRUAL CYCLE?

The day count for menstrual cycle begins on the first day of menstruation when blood starts to come out of the vagina. In this section, the length of menstrual cycle has been assumed to be 28 days (which is the average among women). The entire duration of a Menstrual cycle can be divided into four main phases:

  1. Menstrual phase (Day 1 to 5) – This phase begins from the first day of the Menstruation and lasts till the 5th day of the Menstrual Cycle.The following events occur during this phase:
    • The uterus sheds its inner lining of soft tissue and blood vessels which exits the body from the vagina in the form of menstrual fluid.
    • Blood loss of 10 ml to 80 ml is considered normal.
    • You may experience abdominal cramps. These cramps are caused by the contraction of the uterine and the abdominal muscles to expel the menstrual fluid.
  2. Follicular phase (Day 1 to 13) – This phase also begins from the first day of the Menstruation and lasts till the 13th day of the Menstrual Cycle.. The following events occur during this phase:
    • The pituitary gland secretes a hormone that stimulates the egg cells in the ovaries to grow.
    • One of these egg cells begins to mature in a sac-like-structure called follicle. It takes 13 days for the egg cell to reach maturity.
    • While the egg cell matures, its follicle secretes a hormone that stimulates the uterus to develop a lining of blood vessels and soft tissue called endometrium.
  3. Ovulation phase (Day 14) – The Ovulatory Phase begins about 14 days after the follicular phase has started.The ovulatory phase is the midpoint of the menstrual cycle, with the next menstrual period starting about two weeks later. In this phase, the pituitary gland secretes a hormone that causes the ovary to release the matured egg cell. The released egg cell is swept into the fallopian tube by the cilia of the fimbriae.
  4. Luteal phase (From day 15 to 28) – This phase begins on the 15th days and ends till the last day of the cycle. The following events occur during this phase:
    • The egg cell released during the ovulation phase stays in the fallopian tube for 24 hours.
    • If a sperm cell does not impregnate the egg cell within that time, the egg cell disintegrates.
    • The hormone that causes the uterus to retain its endometrium gets used up by the end of the menstrual cycle. This causes the menstrual phase of the next cycle to begin.

WHAT IS MENSTRUAL HYGIENE MANAGEMENT(MHM)?

Although women spend 6-7 years of their life menstruating. But still the menstrual hygiene is neglected. Menstrual hygiene is a taboo subject; a topic that many women are uncomfortable discussing in public. Women need to take few steps to deal with the menstrual flow and to maintain general menstrual hygiene. The measures taken in order to help women continue their daily routine without being interrupted by your periods is known as Menstrual Management. It is fundamental to the dignity and the well-being of women and is an important part for their hygiene and sanitation.

Menstrual Management can be done by:

  1. Managing menstrual flow to prevent menstrual fluid from soiling the clothes.
  2. Maintaining proper hygiene and cleanliness.
  3. Eating a balanced diet to provide the body essential nutrients.
  4. Maintaining an active lifestyle while avoiding stress and tension.

 SANITARY PADS, TAMPONS, MENSTRUAL CUPS- WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Questioning about what is right to use whether sanitary pads, Tampons or Menstrual Cups actually shows that women are giving serious consideration to their menstrual management methods.

SANITARY PADS – Sanitary pads are also known as Sanitary Napkins or Menstrual Pads. These are the earliest form of female hygiene and are still widely used today. Pads are often preferred by women on light-flow days or for when they might be spotting between periods. The disadvantages associated with sanitary pads are that some women find the product uncomfortable or find that it isn’t suitable for certain types of physical activity. Pads need to be changed after every 3-4 hours. If not, they can cause rashes, fungal infections and even bad odor.

TAMPONS – According to a prominent study, Tampons are the choice of feminine protection for women younger than 41. Women often choose tampons for greater physical freedom during their period. The inside wall of the vagina is moist and this secretion fights bacteria and keeps the woman safe from bacterial infections. Once inside, tampons start absorbing even the secretion on the walls and this can lead to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Women who use tampons may have an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

MENSTRUAL CUPS – There are two types of Menstrual Cups. The first is a soft, flexible, disposable cup that resembles a diaphragm. The second is a bell-shaped cup made of rubber (latex) or silicone that can be reused after thorough cleaning. Both types of menstrual cups are designed to collect menstrual fluid—rather than absorb it—for disposal later. Menstrual cups are easy to insert, wash and reinsert. They’re comfortable, nontoxic, reusable, making them good for you. They are the most hygienic among pads and tampons. However, one needs to practice caution while using menstrual cups too. They need to be cleaned properly before reusing.

KNOW ABOUT THE MENSTRUAL PROBLEMS!

The menstrual cycle is a highly complex process, regulated by even more complex hormones. From time to time, women experience menstrual problems. The menstrual problems are :

  • IRREGULAR PERIODS (Oligomenorrhea)
  • HEAVY PERIODS (Menorrhagia)
  • ABSENCE OF PERIODS (Amenorrhea)
  • PAINFUL PERIODS(Dysmenorrhea)
  • BREAKTHROUGH BLEEDING(Metrorrhagia)

DO YOU KNOW THE MENSTRUAL MYTHS?

Menstruation was a mystery before science could explain it. So, a lot of different ideas and beliefs were created to explain periods in ancient societies and cultures. We call these ideas menstrual myths. The myths included:

  • Menstruation is a disease or a curse and it leads up to beliefs like a woman’s body is polluted when she is experiencing periods.
  • A menstruating woman is impure, dirty, sick.
  • A menstruating women should not take bath.
  • Menstruation leads to heavy blood loss and leads to anemia.
  • It is impossible to get pregnant while menstruation.
  • Period blood has a bad smell.
  • A menstruating women can contaminate food.
  • A menstruating women can not enter holy temples.

Try to know exactly about menstruation and then start separating them from the myths. Scientific facts related to menstruation can help you aware yourself as well as others.

Want to consult a doctor for menstrual issues. Dr. Renu Malik, Radix Healthcare is the best Gynaecologist in the city.

Submit a comment