Menstrual Cycle

What is menstruation, better known as a Period?

Every month, you release a single egg from your ovary that begins a trip through the fallopian tube, ending up in the uterus (also called the womb). Before the egg is released from the ovary, the uterus builds up its lining with extra blood and tissue. If the egg is fertilized by a sperm cell, it stays in the uterus and grows into a fetus, using that extra blood and tissue to keep it healthy and protected as it’s developing.

Most of the time though, the egg is only passing through! When the egg doesn’t get fertilized, the uterus no longer needs the extra blood and tissue, so it leaves the body through the vagina. This is called a menstrual period and is also known as mahvari , menses or tareekh. Some of you refer to it as ‘getting down’ , ‘getting my chums’ , ‘time of the month’ or even ‘aunty’ Getting a period lets a girl know that puberty is progressing and the puberty hormones have been doing their job.

Check it out - A cool scientific animation showing how the egg travels from the ovaries to the uterus.

“Animated Visual” Menstrual Periods.

When can a girl expect a period and how long does it last?

Anywhere between 9 and 16 years. But don’t compare yourself with friends who may be getting it sooner or later than you – each of you is unique with individual biological timings. If it still worries you that you haven’t started your periods yet, then write to advice@srhmatters.org and get an answer in 24 hours. A period usually lasts from 2-days to 7 days.

What is a menstrual cycle/Period and how can I calculate mine?

The length of time between your periods is your menstrual cycle. So it’s really easy to calculate your cycle. Count from the start of one period to the start of the next. Some of you will have a 28-day cycle while others may have a 24-day, 30-day or even 35-day cycle.

A quick journey through your fertility cycle.

What is Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)?

The Blues and the Blah’s…

Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS is the name for some physical and emotional symptoms that may occur a week or two before your period is due to start. Some of the symptoms of PMS are.

  • Cramps
  • Pimples
  • Headaches
  • Cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gains or bloating
  • Sore breasts
  • Tiredness
  • Poor concentration
  • Food cravings
  • Feelings of anxiety

The symptoms may be mild for a few of you and severe for others. In either case, do remember that this is a natural phenomena and a painkiller can help ease the pain. If the symptoms are too severe or if they persist even after the period starts write in to our panel specialist (advice@srhmatters.org) for a suggestion and get an answer within 24hours.

Why are periods painful?

Periods cause hormonal changes in the body. Some of you produce a hormone called Prostaglandin in excess which causes cramping in the uterus muscles. You can ease this by taking a mild painkiller, by putting a hot water bottle against your tummy or taking a hot bath.

Oestrogen is another female hormone that gives women an overall feeling of contentment and wellbeing. Oestrogen levels go down a week before your period starts – this explains the high and low moods accompanying your period that some of you experience.

So how do I deal with PMS?

You can manage and reduce your PMS symptoms by trying the following self-care approaches (Courtesy: www.mayoclinic.com):

Modify Your Diet:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals each day to reduce bloating and the sensation of fullness.
  • Limit salt and salty foods to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
  • Choose foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Choose foods rich in calcium. If you can’t tolerate dairy products or aren’t getting adequate calcium in your diet, you may need a daily calcium supplement.
  • Take a daily multivitamin supplement.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
  • Get going on your Vitamin B6. Found in whole grains, bananas, meat and fish, not only is it thought to relieve fluid retention (often the cause of sore, tender breasts); it can also help with depression.

Incorporate exercise into your regular routine

Engage in at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, cycling, swimming or other aerobic activity most days of the week. Regular daily exercise can help improve your overall health and alleviate symptoms such as fatigue and a depressed mood.

Reduce stress

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Try yoga or call in the masi for a massage as ways to relax and relieve stress.

Record your symptoms for a few months

Keep a record to identify the triggers and timing of your symptoms. This will allow you to discuss the issues with your physician who will help you to intervene with strategies that may help to lessen them.

Some Myths and Facts about PMS

Myth

You should always rest and never exercise during your period.

Fact

Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, but don’t be afraid to exercise as there is no impact on the menstrual flow. If anything, it’s a good way of managing PMS and cramps because it increases the supply of oxygen to the muscles.

Myth

A bath during menstrual flow intensifies cramps

Fact

It’s perfectly fine to take a bath during your periods; in fact it is very important to do so for hygienic reasons. Bleeding or spotting during a bath is normal and there is no reason to be alarmed about it.

Myth

Menstrual blood is ‘dirty’ blood

Fact

Menstrual blood is simply the shedding of the lining of the uterus so that rebuilding can take place. There is nothing ‘dirty’ about it at all

Myth

Foods such as eggs, chicken, mutton, dry fruits are to be avoided as they are hot (garam) and the onset of periods may be earlier

Fact

You should eat everything and anything including the above plus seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Myth

Women lose loads of blood during a period

Fact

It may feel like a lot, but the amount is actually much less than it looks. On average, only about four to six tablespoons of blood are lost.

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Also see:

http://www.thesite.org/healthandwellbeing/generalhealth/womenshealth/premenstrualsyndrome