WHAT IS MENSTRUATION?
Menstruation is the cyclical shedding of the inner lining of the uterus that manifests as periodic bleeding from the vagina occurring throughout a woman's reproductive life. First menstruation for a girl (menarche) signals the onset of her reproductive life that usually ends with menopause (cessation of the cycles)
A menstrual period generally lasts from three to seven
(4-5) days. An average of about 100 ml of blood is lost. Menstruation also ceases during
pregnancy and often during breast-feeding.
A woman of any age needs a physical examination when her irregularity is more than slight, as when there are many months between periods.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MENSTRUATION?
The uterine wall is made up of two layers, first a muscular layer - myometrium (comprises almost 99% of the uterine wall) and the endometrium - inner thin layer of cells, to which the foetus gets attached during pregnancy. Accordingly, every month the endometrium has to be prepared to accept the embryo. This happens through a series of hormonal fluctuations.
In order to understand what exactly happens, let's understand the hormonal changes. Click here to see the axis. The hypothalamus, which is situated in the brain, controls all the hormones of the body. In this case hypothalamus (Click here) releases a hormone that called as gonadotropin-releasing hormone in turn acts on the pituitary gland (Click here) which in turn releases hormones acting on the Thyroid gland. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland ultimately act on the ovary to produce oestrogen and progesterone - the female sex hormones.
Without going into intricacies let us remember that there is more of oestrogen in the first half of the cycle whereas there is more of progesterone in the latter half. For better understanding changes occurring in the uterus are divided into three phases. The day when bleeding starts is counted as day 1. In a 28-day cycle the changes are as follows:
- - More about Physiology of Menstruation - -
PHYSICAL CHANGES DURING MENSTRUATION
It's normal to gain weight and retain fluids during menstruation. You may also experience a dull ache in the lower abdomen and mild cramps. Some women break out in acne, probably related to hormones secreted by the ovaries. Breasts may be swollen and tender.
EMOTIONAL CHANGES DURING MENSTRUATION
SEX DURING MENSTRUATION
There is no reason to abstain from sex. However be sure to use contraceptives even during this time.
ANY OTHER PRECAUTION?
Yes! If you use an IUD, check to see that it is in place after each menstruation.