Menstrual cycle refers to the natural changes that occurs to a woman’s body to prepare it for pregnancy. The average length of menstruation also called menses, “uterus weeping” is 28 days.Menstrual cycles of length 20-40 days are normal while menstrual cycles above 40 days are considered unusual.
The time of onset of menses is called menarche.
Stress, upsets,weight changes and excessive physical activities can cause irregular menses.Absence of menses is called amenorrhea while painful menstruation is dysmenorrhea.Starving oneself under the guise of watching weight can lead to anorexia which can cause menses to cease.
The menstrual cycle has 4 phases:Menstruation, Follicular, Ovulation and the Luteal phases.
FOLLICULAR PHASE: Hormones are released from the pituitary gland which makes the lining of the uterus to thicken in anticipation of the embedding of a fertilized egg.
OVULATION :The release of a fertilized egg from the ovary is called ovulation.Women are more fertile at this phase of the menstrual cycle.The egg breaks down if a woman doesn’t engage in baby making activity within 6-24hrs.Ovulation doesn’t occur mid-cycle.An easy way to approximate when ovulation would occur for women with regular menses is to subtract 16 from the number of cycles and adding 4.For e.g a woman with 22 day cycle is likely to ovulate between days 6 and 10 of her cycle.(22-16=6, 6+4=10)
Another way of predicting ovulation is by using the cervical mucus. A woman’s cervical mucus just before ovulation is clear and slippery like raw white egg and can be stretched between the fingers.A cervical mucus that differs in color and texture, sticky,gummy or crumbly, white or milky yellow indicates the abscence of menstruation.
Ovulation kits obtainable from pharmacies can also be used to time ovulation.
LUTEAL PHASE:The breast may be tender or lumpy under this phase.
MENSTRUATION:The lining of the uterus(womb) breaks down when pregnancy doesn’t occur and flows out via the vagina.The uterus weeps for a pregnancy that didn’t occur. It may last 3-7 days.Menstrual fluid comprises cervical mucus,blood and vaginal secretions.A woman loses 50-100ml of blood each time she is having her period.Love them.Bear with them.
SEX AND MENSTRUATION:A woman in a monogamous relationship can engage in baby making activities during her period.Condoms should be used if babies are not needed st this period.The risk of transmitting infections is higher during the menstruation phase.
Migraine, painful menstruation,amenorrhea can all be taken care of by talking to your doctor or healthcare practitioner.