Unlocking the Mysteries of Menstruation: Myths, Facts, and Phases

Understanding Menstrual Cycle and Sex Hormones Function

Menstruation, also known as menses or a period, is the monthly shedding of the uterine lining. The menstrual blood, a combination of blood and tissue, flows through the cervix and exits the body via the vagina. Often considered a natural occurrence, menstruation holds cultural significance, symbolizing femininity and fertility. Despite cultural beliefs, menstruation is a physiological process crucial to women’s reproductive health.

Phases of a Normal Menstrual Cycle and Its Significance

Initiating during puberty, the menstrual cycle marks the beginning of a woman’s reproductive phase. Controlled by hormones like estrogen and progesterone, the menstrual cycle comprises four phases.

  1. Menses Phase (Days 1-5): The shedding phase, where the uterine lining is expelled if pregnancy doesn’t occur. Normal bleeding lasts 3 to 5 days.
  2. Follicular Phase (Days 6-14): Estrogen rises, thickening the uterine lining, and follicle-stimulating hormone triggers ovary follicle growth.
  3. Ovulation (Day 14): A surge in luteinizing hormone prompts the ovary to release an egg.
  4. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): If not fertilized, the egg travels to the uterus, and progesterone prepares the uterine lining. Hormone levels drop if no pregnancy occurs, leading to menstruation.

What is Abnormal Menstruation and When to Consult a Doctor?

Abnormal menstruation deviates from the standard menstrual cycle, indicating potential reproductive health issues. Specific terms include:

  • Menorrhagia: Excessive bleeding (more than 80mls per cycle).
  • Dysmenorrhoea: Severe menstrual pain, sometimes associated with endometriosis.
  • Polymenorrhoea: Frequent periods (more than once a month).
  • Oligomenorrhoea: Infrequent or scanty periods (less than 6 times a year), common in polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Keeping a menstrual calendar aids in tracking patterns and detecting abnormalities. Contact your gynecologist if you experience irregularities, bleeding between periods, increased pain, or other concerns.

Understanding the menstrual cycle empowers women to monitor their reproductive health and seek medical advice when necessary.

When to Contact Your Gynecologist:

  • No menstruation by age 16
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Unusual bleeding duration or heaviness
  • Severe menstrual pain
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Postmenopausal bleeding
  • Irregular period intervals (more than 35 days or shorter than 21 days)
  • Suspected pregnancy

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