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Complete information about menstruation

Menstruation. Complete information about women´s menstruation. Types of menstrual cycles and their duration.

Menstruation, also called a period, menstrual cycle or menstrual period.

Menstruation is the natural bleeding that a woman experiences out of her vagina once a month. Part of it is blood and part of it is the tissue lining of the uterus.

The first menstruation is known as the menarche and it doesn’t appear until the whole of the female reproductive system has matured and working together.

Menstruation usually appears between the ages of 8 and 13.

Menstruation: cycles and duration

The menstrual cycle controls the time between one period and the next which is counted from the beginning of the menstruation until the next. Menstrual cycles can be of 28, 24, 30, or more days.

After the menarche (first menstruation) the menstrual cycles last around 21 to 45 days.

The duration of the menstruation varies in relation to the person. Some last 2 or 3 days, while others can last up to 7 days.

The menstrual flow can also vary because you can lose more blood than the norm. Although it can appear a lot, the approximately average quantity is only 30 millilitres for a whole menstrual cycle (about 2 large spoonfuls).

What happens during the menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle consists of two phases. These phases are:

*First phase of the menstrual cycle:

- The levels of oestrogen increase which makes the layer the lines the uterus increase in size and expand.

- The follicle-stimulating hormone makes an egg start to mature in the ovaries.

- On approximately day 14 of a typical menstrual cycle (that lasts 28 days), the hormone luteinizing increase its production provoking the release of the egg from the ovary, this is what we know as ovulation.

*Second phase of the menstrual cycle:

- The egg starts to travel down the fallopian tube towards the uterus.

- The progesterone levels increase, helping to prepare the re-lining of the uterus for a pregnancy, but if the egg is not fertilised by a sperm it dissolves and is expulsed during the menstrual cycle. 

Menstruation: types of menstruation

The following indicates the different types of menstruation that a woman can have:

Dysmenorrhea: is a period that is accompanied by severe, painful and frequent cramps.

Dysmenorrhoea can be caused by; myomas or fibromas in the uterus, Pelvic inflammatory disease, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, infections, tumours, polyps in the pelvic cavity, etc. This can be classed as:  

        1st/ Primary Dysmenorrhoea: It starts from the beginning of menstruation and on some occasions for life. The severe and frequent cramps are provoked by contractions in the uterus which are strong and abnormal.

       2nd/ Secondary Dysmenorrhoea: This dysmenorrhoea is usually as a consequence of other physical causes such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, etc.

Amenorrhea: Is the absence or lack of the menstrual flow. Amenorrhea can be:

       1st/ Primary Amenorrhea: The first cycle of menstruation doesn’t start until 16 years of age.

The most common causes of amenorrhea are usually; delays in the menstrual cycle, absence of a hymen, hypoglycaemia, drastic weight loss, extreme obesity, congenital abnormalities of the genital system, etc.

       2nd/ Secondary Amenorrhea: The menstrual cycle starts at a normal age, but then it stops for a period of at least 6 months or longer without there being any normal causes like the menopause, breast feeding and pregnancy for example, etc.

The most common causes of secondary amenorrhea can be; pregnancy, obesity, drugs, thyroid disease, drastic weight loss, very vigorous athletic activity, emotional anguish, disease/ tumour of the pituitary gland.

Some of the symptoms associated with amenorrhea can be: changes in the voice, headaches, vaginal dryness, weight gain, change in the size of the breasts, excessive weight loss, increase in hair, etc.

Menstruation: personal care during menstruation

During the menstrual cycle, for your intimate protection you can use:

- Sanitary towels: These are stuck inside the underwear in order to be able to catch the menstrual flow and not stain your clothes. They can vary in size, thickness and style. Some have wings which fold and stick over the edges of you underwear, others are can be thicker in order to absorb a heavier flow and some contain a deodorant too.

Sanitary towels should be changed every 4 to 6 hours or when you start to notice that they feel wet or uncomfortable.

- Panty liners: Are slimmer, shorter and finer protectors than sanitary towels which are usually used when the menstrual flow is much lighter (last day of the menstrual cycle).

- Tampons: They are positioned in the vagina and the collect the menstrual flow before it leaves the body. They usually come with a plastic or cardboard applicator which makes it easier to slide it into your vagina and also have a string at the end of them that hangs out and allows you to pull it out easily without having to insert your fingers into the inside of the vagina.

Tampons should be changed every 4 to 6 hours or before if it is needed.