Menstruation, also called menorrhea, period or menstruation, is the bleeding experienced by women and some female mammals when the egg, which is expelled from the ovary to be fertilized, is not fertilized. It occurs in the last phase of the menstrual cycle, called the post-ovulatory phase, when the endometrium, which had been thickening in preparation for receiving, retaining, and nourishing the fertilized egg, is shed. In total, the amount of flow of a menstruation is between 40 and 50 mL. It is composed of blood, endometrial tissue and other vaginal fluids. This fluid flows out of the vagina, on average, for three to seven days.
Menstruation is a physiological event of sexually mature women, which repeats itself cyclically every 28 or 29 days approximately, although in 90% of the women it varies between 24 and 36 days.
During menstruation, vaginal bleeding occurs as a result of the desquamation of the functional layer of the endometrium.
This physiological bleeding is a consequence of the sudden drop in the levels of ovarian hormones, which occurs if a blastocyst has not been implanted.
The ovary synthesizes and secretes different hormones:
Menstruation is part of the female sexual cycle, which prepares a woman’s body each month for a possible pregnancy. A cycle is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range from 21 to 35 days in adult women, and from 21 to 45 days in young women.
For the menstrual cycle to occur, there must be a fluctuation in body chemicals called hormones during the month.
The female sexual cycle is composed of four stages: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase and the luteal phase.
It has as a fundamental element the follicle. Its development and maturation presents three basic general characteristics:
Under the successive action of estrogens and progesterone produced by the ovary, the endometrial mucosa undergoes cyclical changes in its functional layer that differ in three stages:
Proliferative or estrogenic (from the 5th to the 13th day of the cycle).
Secretory or progestational (from 14th to 29th day of the cycle).
Menstrual or disintegrating (from the 1st to the 4th day of the cycle).
There are numerous medical terms related to menstrual problems
The lack of menstruation from the medical point of view, can be classified as physiological or pathological. Amenorrhea is considered when there is no bleeding in at least 3 consecutive menstrual cycles unrelated to pregnancy and may be due to hormonal imbalance, medical treatments or uterine problems. Amenorrhea requires medical treatment.
The absence of menstruation is considered physiological or normal in the following cases:
The first menstruation is called menarche. Just as some girls enter puberty earlier than others, so does the period. The average age of menarche is 12 years old, but it varies from girl to girl (it can occur between 8 and 16 years old).
In pregnancy. Amenorrhea is always present in pregnancy. Therefore, if a young woman with constant presence of menstruation stops menstruating for a few months and has had sexual relations without practicing any measure of contraception, then pregnancy can be considered as a possible cause of amenorrhea.
The amenorrhea that occurs during breastfeeding has its origin in a hormonal drop in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and is of variable duration. The endometrium does not grow or develop due to a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone, and an increase in the release of prolactin.
The permanent cessation of menstruation has its physiological cause in the decline of estrogen secretion by loss of function of the ovarian follicles. Menopause usually occurs around the age of 51.
The absence of menstruation in a woman, is an important symptom, can be primary or secondary.
Primary amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menstruation in women 16 years of age or older.
Secondary amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menstrual periods for three or more months in a woman who has already begun to menstruate and who: is not pregnant, is not breastfeeding, and is not in menopause.
Menstruation is bright red in most cases, but altered blood pigmentation is often a strong indicator of menstrual cycle changes or related diseases. The main colors that women can detect in their period are
Pale red or pink: this is normal in the first bleeding, at the beginning of a woman’s fertile life or in women who use hormonal contraceptive methods (especially birth control pills).
Orange: usually indicates a vaginal infection. It is common to be accompanied by pain, irritation and/or itching.
Dull red: most likely caused by blood that was not expelled from the uterus during the past period, so it dried up and took on a dark or slightly purple color. It is not considered a medical problem, unless accompanied by other discomforts.
Brown or black: similar to the previous point, it is the remains of endometrial tissue left in previous periods. It usually occurs in women with irregular menstrual cycles.
There is much to learn about menstruation (also called “the period” in colloquial language). Here you will find the answers to some of the questions that teenage girls ask most often.
At what age do most girls get their periods?
Most girls get their first period around 12 years of age. But it’s okay to have it any time between 10 and 15 years old. Every girl’s body has its own calendar.
There is no right age for a girl to get her period. But there are some signs that a girl will get her first period soon:
Most of the time, girls get their periods about 2 years after their breasts begin to develop.
Another sign is vaginal discharge (a kind of mucus), which a girl sees or notices in her underwear. This discharge usually appears about 6 months to a year before a girl has her first period.
Menstruation occurs due to changes in the body’s hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers. The ovaries release the female hormones, which are called estrogen and progesterone. These hormones cause the inner lining of the uterus (which may later become the womb) to increase in size. The inner lining grows until it is ready for a fertilized egg to nest in and begin to develop. If no egg is fertilized, the lining breaks down and the uterine tissue comes out of the vagina in the form of blood. This same process happens over and over again.
The inner lining of the uterus usually takes about a month to grow, and then it is shed during menstruation. That is why most girls and adult women have their periods about once a month.
Ovulation is the release of an egg by an ovary. The same hormones that cause the lining of the uterus to increase also cause an egg to leave one of the two ovaries. The egg moves through a narrow tube, called the fallopian tube, into the uterus.
If the egg reaches the uterus and is fertilized by a sperm, it attaches to the wall of the uterus, where it will become a baby over time. But, if the egg is not fertilized, the uterus sheds the tissue that lines its interior and bleeds, causing menstruation.
During the first few years when a girl starts to menstruate, her periods may not be regular. This is normal at first. But, when a girl has been menstruating for about 2 or 3 years, she should get her period about every 4-5 weeks.
Yes, a girl can get pregnant as soon as she starts having periods. In fact, a girl can get pregnant just before her first period. This is because the girl’s hormones were already active before she had her period. The hormones may have caused ovulation and an increase in the lining of the uterus. If that girl had sex, she could get pregnant, even if she never had a period.
Periods usually last about 5 days. But they can be shorter or longer.
Periods usually come every 4-5 weeks. But some girls have it a little more or a little less often.
There are several ways to collect menstrual blood. You may need to experiment a little bit to find out which one works best for you. Some girls only use one method while others switch between several different methods.
Most girls use pads the first time they have their period. The pads are made of cotton and come in many different shapes and sizes. They have several adhesive strips that stick to the underwear.
Many girls prefer to use tampons instead of pads, especially when they want to play sports or swim. A tampon is a cotton swab that girls insert into their vaginas. Most tampons have an applicator that helps them to be inserted well into the vagina. The tampon absorbs blood. Don’t leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours at a time because it can increase your risk of getting a serious infection called toxic shock syndrome.
Some girls prefer to use a menstrual cup. Most menstrual cups are made of silicone. To use a menstrual cup, a girl must insert it into her vagina. Menstrual cups collect blood until they are removed and emptied.
It may feel like a lot of blood is lost, but a girl usually only loses a few tablespoons of blood with each period. Most girls need to change their pad, tampon, or menstrual cup 3 to 6 times a day.
When women reach menopause (around age 45-55), they stop having periods. Women also stop having periods when they are pregnant.
PMS is when a girl has physical and emotional symptoms that occur before and/or during her period. These symptoms can include moodiness, sadness, anxiety, bloating, and acne. The symptoms go away after a few days of menstruation.
Many girls have menstrual cramps, especially in the early days of menstruation. If the menstrual cramps are too uncomfortable, try a:
Putting a blanket or heating pad on your belly
take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin or generic) or naproxen (Aleve or generic)
Most girls do not have any menstrual problems. But call your doctor if you do:
Menstruation is a natural and healthy part of a girl’s life. It shouldn’t get in the way of things like exercising, having fun and enjoying life. If you have any questions about menstruation, ask your doctor, a parent, your health teacher, your school nurse or your older sister.
Sanitary pads, tampons, and menstrual cups (sometimes called “feminine hygiene products”) absorb and collect blood and tissue that comes out of the vagina during your period.
They are the products that make it possible for you to live a normal life during your period by keeping your clothes or sheets from getting blood on them. Tampons and menstrual cups are placed inside the vagina, while sanitary pads are attached to underwear.
Sanitary pads (sometimes called “wipes”) are narrow pieces of absorbent material that stick to underwear. Some have “wings” that fold over both sides of the underwear to protect it from leaks or stains. Some pads are made of disposable material (used once and then thrown away). Others are made of fabric and can be washed and reused.
Tampons are like small plugs made of cotton that are placed inside the vagina to absorb menstruation. Some come with an applicator to help you put them in. They have a string attached to the end so they can be easily removed.
The menstrual cups are shaped like a bell or cup. They are made of rubber, silicone, or soft plastic. The cup is worn inside the vagina and collects the menstruation. Most are reusable: they are only emptied when necessary, washed and reused. Others are disposable: they are thrown away after using them once or after a menstrual cycle.
Tampons and menstrual cups cannot get stuck, get lost inside your body or move to another part of your body. The muscles in your vagina hold them in place (without you knowing it) and stay inside your body until you take them out. In most cases, you cannot feel your tampons and menstrual cups when they are in the right place. Both can be used in water and during any type of sport or activity.
It’s totally up to you. Think about your lifestyle and what suits you best. It’s helpful to try different products or ask a friend or family member about what works for them.
During your period, it is common to use different things at different times. For example, some people may use tampons during the day and pads at night. For extra protection, you can also use a sanitary pad or a daily protector (a thin sanitary pad) while using a tampon or menstrual cup, just in case it leaks.
Some people find that wearing a tampon or menstrual cup inside the vagina is more comfortable and convenient because it is not seen and usually not felt. Other people think that sanitary pads are more comfortable than tampons or cups, or prefer them because they do not want to put an object inside the vagina. However, you cannot use a sanitary pad in water, as it may move around or feel uncomfortable during some activities. Therefore, use a tampon or menstrual cup if you want to swim or play sports during your period.
Many people like the convenience of products that are used once and then thrown away, such as tampons and disposable sanitary pads. They are also easier to find in stores. Others choose reusable protection items, such as menstrual cups or cloth sanitary pads, because they save money and are better for the environment.
Tampons, scented pads, vaginal deodorants and douches should not be used, as they can cause irritation or infection in the area. Some people worry about the way their period smells, but there is very little chance that someone else will notice that you have your period. Just make sure you change your pad, tampon or cup frequently.
Sanitary pads come in different sizes: they can be thin for light flow (daily pads); regular size; or thick for heavy bleeding (“maxi” or “night”). You can use the size that is most comfortable for you.
Stick the wipe to your underwear using the adhesive strip on the back. Some reusable pads are held in place with a snap or the elastic in your underwear.
Change it every few hours or when it is completely soaked in blood.
Wrap the pads in the wrapper or in toilet paper and throw them in the trash. Throwing used pads or wrapping in the toilet will cause the toilet to become clogged.
Each woman should choose the type of towel or pad that best suits her needs at each time of her period and change it every four hours, at most.
The care of our intimate area is extremely important. Even more so when we reach the stage in our lives when the body presents hormonal and physiological changes, . For this reason, if you are starting the developmental stage and period, you should read this post.
It is important that you know the care that you must give to your body, especially to your intimate zone, as this study carried out by the University of Chile assures you. This is a stage in which you should learn which type of pad or menstural cup you want to choose.
Likewise, it is also fundamental to know how often you should change your towel during your period.
Tampons come in different sizes: (different absorption levels) small, regular and super. It is best to use the lowest absorption level, which lasts a few hours. Some tampons come with applicators – small sticks made of cardboard or plastic that help you put the tampon in your vagina – and others do not, so you have to insert them with your finger.
Inserting a tampon usually doesn’t hurt, but it takes some practice at first. Try different types of tampons until you find out which one you like best, but don’t use them unless you’re on your period.
If inserting a tampon is too painful for you, talk to a doctor or nurse.
You may have a condition or it may simply be that the hymen covers the vaginal opening. Either way, your doctor or nurse can help you figure out what is causing the pain and decide what to do about it.
There are different types of menstrual cups, and they all come with step-by-step instructions and pictures. The cups may look a little big, but, in most cases, you won’t feel them once they are in place.
If putting on a cup is too painful, talk to a doctor or nurse. You may have a condition or it may simply be that the hymen covers the vaginal opening. Either way, your doctor or nurse can help you figure out what is causing the pain and decide what to do about it.
It does not matter if your blood flow during the period is abundant, moderate or scarce. It is recommended that you wash your intimate area every time you change your feminine towel. Try to dry the area well before putting on the other pad or intimate towel.
The feminine towel that you take off must be disposed of properly. After you remove the towel, you should fold it so that the inside of the towel is not visible. Try placing it in the packaging of the new pad you have placed in your underwear.
It is very important to know that the pad should not be disposed of in the toilet. It is made of a material that will not disintegrate and cause blockage in the toilet.
It would also pollute the environment. That is why you should place a special basket in your bathroom so that you can dispose of the towels during your period and then throw them away.
Always remember that taking care of your body and especially your intimate area is really important. If you notice any change you are not used to, especially if it is related to your menstruation, immediately go to a specialist who can tell you if it is normal or not.