Menstruation, menstrual cycle, ragnagnas, English women who land... They accompany most women in all stages of life: from adolescence, during their fertility period, their pregnancy and until menopause.
- What is a period?
- How does the menstrual cycle work?
- At what age does menstruation start?
- What are the effects of menstruation on health and the body?
- How do contraceptive methods affect menstruation?
- How can I protect myself from blood loss during the day and night?
- Are there any contraindications to follow during menstruation?
- How to calculate the length of your period and menstrual cycle?
What is a period?
Menstruation occurs about 400 times in a woman's life, i.e. a little more than 3,600 days in total, 13 times a year. This bleeding corresponds to the breakdown of the endometrium within the uterus. Nowadays, women have many solutions to live with their periods: menstrual panties, tampon, towel, hormonal contraceptive, etc.
In order to better understand what menstruation is all about, we have detailed below all the information you need to know about the cycle and the menstrual flow. Unfortunately, even today and for generations, there is a taboo on menstruation and its social acceptance. It is therefore important to talk about this subject to democratize it and to free the word!
The color of menstruation
The color of men struation can vary depending on several factors. Blood tissue will change color depending on its exposure to oxygen in the air, its viscosity and its quantity.
- Bright red bleeding is usually present at the time of heaviest menstrual flow around the second or third day of menstruation. It is blood that does not have time to oxidize since it flows quickly and abundantly.
- Some blood flows can be very dark red or black when they take the form of blood clots.
- Blood can be reddish or dark brown and very thick at the beginning of menstruation.
- At the beginning and end of menstruation, you may see brown blood. Don't worry, this color is due to the fact that it took longer to detach from the wall of the uterus and to cross the vagina to arrive in your panties.
- Spotting, ovulation bleeding or the use of a hormonal contraceptive can cause pink, light red or pinkish colored discharge.
- If the color of your discharge is gray or grayish, it could be a sign of infection or miscarriage. Consider consulting a health care professional!
The length of the menstrual cycle
A "normal" cycle lasts about 28 days, but it can vary from 25 days to 33 days. This is different from the length of a period. The cycle begins when your period starts and ends the day before your next period. However, some variations in these average lengths can be a sign of a menstrual disorder.
How does the menstrual cycle work?
The female cycle is made up of different phases that are part of a pattern that is repeated from the young girl until the menopause.
Let's take the example of a 28-day cycle:
- The beginning of the cycle will always begin with menstrual bleeding, which lasts an average of 5 to 6 days. This is called the follicular phase.
- The ovulatory phase: 14 days after the menstrual period, ovulation takes place. This is the moment when the body is ready to receive sperm and create an embryo. At this time, the oocyte(s) released by the ovaries will become an egg.
- This is followed by the post-ovulatory phase, also known as the luteal phase, when, under the influence of progesterone, the body prepares to eliminate the layer of the uterus that did not receive an embryo, the endometrium.
Is it possible to have a period twice in the same menstrual cycle?
It is possible to have vaginal discharge several times in the same month. You can have bleeding at the time of ovulation and have some spotting phases. However, having your period several times a month is a sign that you have short or irregular cycles.
The end of menstruation at the beginning of the pregnancy
It is not uncommon for a woman to have a period while pregnant, especially in early pregnancy. This phenomenon is called anniversary menstruation. But amenorrhea, at the end of the menstrual cycle, is normally one of the symptoms of pregnancy. Those who have a regular menstrual cycle will be able to guess the beginning of a pregnancy when menstruation is late or absent. In this case, don't hesitate to take a pregnancy test!
At what age do periods start?
The first menstrual period appears at puberty in girls, generally between 10 and 16 years old, although it is not unusual for it to arrive a little earlier or later. The average arrival of the first menstrual period is usually around 12 years, and often within 2 years of the appearance of the breast.
What are the effects of menstruation on my health and body?
Menstruation can have several impacts on your health and your body. Between premenstrual syndrome, which occurs a few days before, and menstruation itself, most of the classic symptoms are exacerbated fatigue and pelvic pain due to the contractions of the uterus to evacuate the endometrium!
Premenstrual syndrome: the symptoms of menstruation
Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is a sign that your period is imminent! Several symptoms of menstruation and its arrival can alert you:
- extreme fatigue and/or insomnia
- stomach pain, diarrhea due to uterine contractions and/or bloating
- a depressive state
- a sore chest
Possible disorders due to menstruation
Menstrual disorders of varying degrees can also affect your menstrual cycle. Among these, we can mention the following main disorders:
- Dysmenorrhea, painful periods
- Hypermenorrhea, abnormally abundant and long periods, or its opposite,hypomenorrhea
- Anemia, the well-known iron deficiency of menstruating women, if your blood loss is abundant or even hemorrhagic
- amenorrhea, which is the absence of menstrual flow
- Oligomenorrhea, very long cycles longer than 35 days, or its opposite, polymenorrhea, shorter than 25 days
- Metrorrhagia, bleeding outside of the menstrual period
The case of endometriosis
Endometriosis, a gynecological condition that affects about 1 in 10 menstruating women, is due to a disruption of cells similar toendometrial tissue that are found in other places in the body. Because these endometrial cells and their reactions are closely linked to the hormone levels in the menstrual cycle, localized pain at these sites in the body can occur before, after or during each period.
How do contraceptives affect menstruation?
Contraception and menstruation are often linked because the various contraceptive methods have an impact on menstruation or the production of the uterine lining to prevent ovulation or implantation. Their format and mode of action differ but the result is the same: avoid pregnancy.
- Hormonal contraceptives based onestrogen, such as the patch, the vaginal ring or the estrogen-progestin pill, or simply progesterone, such as the hormonal intrauterine device, the implant or the microdosed pill: under the action of hormones, they act on the thickness of the cervical mucus and limit the development of the endometrium and cause "false periods" called withdrawal bleeding.
- Non-hormonal contraceptives, such as condoms, copper IUDs and spermicides: these are mechanical barriers to fertilization without hormones, so menstruation is natural and follows the woman's basic rhythm.
How to protect yourself from blood loss during the day and night?
When you are in this phase of your cycle, the first question that comes to mind is that of period protection to contain your period. There are a plethora of solutions to absorb or retain the blood flow and each woman must adapt her choice according to the abundance of her losses, her personal comfort and her sporting or non-sporting activities of the day. Sanitary protection can be disposable or reusable: at Elia, we have a particular weakness for menstrual panties, which are durable and can be adapted to the different flows of day and night, but there are also tampons, sanitary napkins, panty liners, cups, menstrual sponges... The choice is wide! There are also particular techniques such as free instinctive flow, which consists of retaining blood in the vagina, but which is more suitable for use during the day.
Are there any contraindications to use during my period?
There are no formal contraindications orforbidden sports activities, it is rather a very personal question of comfort and feeling at ease during this period. Sport during menstruation is for example recommended to relieve menstrual pain, but some women prefer to rest so as not to accumulate additional fatigue. Swimming or bathing also makes menstrual logistics a little more complex than usual, but there are now menstrual bathing suits, which in addition to the classic tampon at the pool, present an absorbent solution to not deprive yourself. Having your period should neither be a fate nor a handicap: live it as you wish, you have every right!
How to calculate the length of your period and menstrual cycle?
There are several ways to calculate the length of your menstrual cycle and your periods. These methods are effective to anticipate the sight of bleeding but also to avoid or promote the occurrence of a pregnancy:
- Today the easiest way is to use the services of an application for menstruation on your smartphone that will give you alerts on the moment of ovulation and on the arrival of your blood loss. Some examples ofapps that might suit you: Clue, Flo, Glow, Menstrual Period Tracker, Eve
- Period calendar. This method can be reliable and used only for women who have regular losses.
- Use a female cycle necklace that will help track an ovulation and fertility period. Each bead on the necklace is color-coded to represent a day in the cycle.
- The mucus method also called the ovulation method. By observing her vaginal secretions several times a day from the last day of menstruation, you can determine the stages of your menstrual cycle.
- Symptothermia is a method that combines measurements of resting body temperature, a cervical mucus calendar and classical calendar methods.
- Lactational amenorrhea can be used after childbirth if the mother is breastfeeding her baby. During the period of exclusive breastfeeding and especially during the first 6 weeks after delivery.
The FAQ of menstruation
What happens in the body when you have your period?
When a woman menstruates, she shedsendometrium, which detaches from the uterine wall, passes through the cervix and into the vagina, resulting in monthly bleeding. This is the result of hormonal variations, which trigger the thickening of the uterine lining at the beginning of the menstrual cycle, and then when the ovum that has matured during ovulation is not fertilized, the endometrium disintegrates, forming the bloody discharge.
What should I do if my period worries me?
When a woman has her period, she evacuates theendometrium, which detaches from the uterine wall, passes through the cervix and then the vagina, resulting in monthly bleeding. This is the result of hormonal variations, which trigger at the beginning of the menstrual cycle the thickening of this uterine lining, then when the egg matured during ovulation is not fertilized, the endometrium disintegrates, forming the bloody discharge.