Menstrual Cycle - Monthly Periods !

1. What do you mean by menstrual cycle..?
 Menstrual cycle is the normal physiological cyclical/periodic shedding of the endometrium (innermost layer of the uterus) in women of reproductive age group under the influence of chief hormones like estrogen and progesterone. The average duration of menstrual cycle is 28+/- 7 days inclusive of the first 3 to 6 days of bleeding. It is divided into two phases: proliferative and secretory. Proliferative phase is due to the effect of estrogen wherein the uterus prepares a bed for the implantation of the fertilized egg. Secretory phase is due the effect of progesterone wherein if at all the fertilizaton process has not taken place then the entire endometrium is shed out.

 2. From what age does this start..?
The beginning of menstruation called MENARCHE, the onset of which varies among different women depending on their race, hormonal factors and genetics. On an average it is between 12.5 years to 14.5 years. Onset of menstruation before 10 years is pathological, also absence of menses by 16 years of age is also pathological.

3. How would the person get to know about this for the first time..?
The development of secondary sexual characters precedes menstruation. Secondary sexual characters in women include development of breast (termed thelarche) followed by development of pubic hair (termed pubarche) followed by menarche. So the sequence of events is Thelarche ----> Pubarche----> Menarche. The first symptom of menstruation is bleeding/ spotting of blood per vagina which can be associated with prior bouts of crampy type of pain in the lower abdomen, especially in the early morning hours. Sometimes women can experience a lot of other symptoms like emotional disturbances in the form of mood swings, increased appetite,breast pain, depression, sleeplessness etc termed the PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME which is attributed to the neurohormonal orchestra. 

4. What are all the symptoms of this..?
The emotional and physical changes occurring during menstruation are myriad. The classic description includes pain in the breasts, feeling of weight gain, sleeplessness, easy fatiguability, weight gain,depression, irritability, bloating, increased appetite, increased craving for sweets etc. 

5. What are the physical and the emotional changes happen during this period..?
Pain during menstruation termed dysmennorhea is a crampy lower abdominal discomfort that begins with the onset of menstrual bleeding and gradually reduces in intensity over the next 2-3 days. Dysmennorhea can be physiological or pathological. In physiological dysmennorhea pain is due to increased production of local chemicals in the uterus termed prostaglandins which are the mediators of pain.These prostaglandins  cause increase in intensity of uterine contractions, increased sensitivity of the nerves and hence pain. Pathological or secondary dysmennorhea is due to an underlying disease  in the pelvis or the reproductive tract. 

6. If any pain experienced, how to get rid of it..?
Local application of heat, consumption of vitamin rich foods, yoga and exercise offer some benefit in reducing pain in physiological dysmennorhea. If the pain is too intense NSAIDs offer symptomatic relief in majority. 

7. What are the do's and don't's that needs to be followed during this period..?

1. Use clean, dry sanitary pads every time.
2. Drink plenty of water.
3. Maintain utmost level of personal hygiene.
4. Consume balanced diet.
5. Exercise regularly, helps alleviate pain.

1.Don't use old cloth/washed cloth pieces as napkins.
2.Don't use alcohol/coffee/tea/cigarettes - these agents increase estrogen levels in the body and worsen the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
3.Don't feel shy/embarrassed. You are going through a very natural process like any other woman in the world.
4.Don't consume excess salt - increases water retention.
5.Don't be too lazy. Follow an active lifestyle to keep yourself busy.

8. Is it safe to plan for a baby during this time..?
The onset of blood flow marks the first day of your menstrual cycle. In a normal cycle Ovulation (release of egg from the ovary) occurs on the 14th day of the cycle. Fertilization of the egg by a sperm results in pregnancy. Roughly by the knowledge of menstrual cycle, the safe period and unsafe period for intercourse can be known. It is better to avoid sexual intercourse during menses as it can be painful and also it can lead to infections of the reproductive tract.

This article makes an honest attempt to help the women understand the biological changes in their body during menstrual cycle and not to feel guilty about it and take necessary actions to help them in being healthy and hygienic. We completely respect THE WOMAN and THE MANKIND !

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  1. Awesome article by . Have shared it on my facebook page.

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