The menstrual process

The menstrual cycle is a series of changes that take place in a woman’s body in preparation for an eventual pregnancy. It is triggerd by the key process of ovulation: the monthly release of an egg by one of the ovaries. Also, the uterus prepares itself for pregnancy: the uterus lining gets thicker and thicker, preparing to host the fertilized egg during the pregnancy.

If the egg is not fertilized, the uterus lining is elliminated through the cervix and into the vagina and then out of the body. After that, the entire process begins again in the next cycle.

This cycle is unique in every woman. It can last for 21 days, or up to 35 and the flow can last for two or seven days. the menstrual cycle can be regular or irregular, but it tends to shorten and be more regular with age.

It is advisable to keep track of the menstrual cycle, in order to determine eventual problems that might occur. Certain indicators such as end date, length, pain level and flow are to be tracked.

Irregularities can occur from different causes:

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Eating disorders, severe weight loss or excessive exercising
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Endometriosis (is a disorder that causes the uterus lining to form outside the uterus, causing pain)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs
  • Uterine fibroids (noncancerous tissue growth of the uterus)

A medic should be consulted if one of the following symptoms occurs:

  • periods suddenly stop for more than 90 days
  • periods become erratic after having been regular
  • bleeding occurs over seven days
  • heavy bleeding unlike the usual — having to change a pad or tampon every 1-2 hours
  • periods are less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart
  • bleeding occurs between periods
  • Severe pain during the period
  • Geting a fever and feeling sick after using internal tampons (sign of toxic shock syndrome)

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When does it start

The first period can occur around age 11 or 12, or as early as 8 or as late as 16 years of age. In the beginning some girls can have regular periods and some might miss a period. It can take a while before periods become regular, in terms of both duration and flow.

Hygene during menstruation

Several products are avaliable and can be used to soak the menstrual liquid. Pads, panty liners or tampons are of common use. They can be used depending on the flow level of each day.

Pads

Pads are attached to the underwear and collect menstrual liquid. They are avaliable in different sizes and styles. The right pad is the one that feels the most confortable, taking into accound body size, flow and activity.

Pads have to be changed every 4-6 hours or whenever they stop feeling confortable.

Panty Liners

Panty liners are similar to pads but only thinner and smaller. They can be used in days with low flow or together with tampons, just to be sure.

Tampons

Tampons have to be inserted in the vagina to soak up the menstrual flow. Most come with applicators that make them more easy to insert. They all have a little string in the back that is used for removal after usage.

Tampons have to be changed often, especialy during days with heavy flow. They differ in sizes and ammount of flow they can absorb.

Relieveing pain

Often, periods are associated with mild stomach cramps and back pains, which are both normal. A few days before the period starts, a series of signs can manifest themselves:

  • Bloating
  • Sensitive breasts
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in the mood
  • Headaches

Cramps and similar symptoms can be relieved by taking aspirin, ibrupofen or certain suitable medicines. Also exercising and being active can help reduce pain, or placing a heating pad on the stomach.

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