Menstruation is the monthly shedding of the lining of a woman’s uterus (more commonly known as the womb). Menstruation is also known as the menstrual period, cycle or period. The menstrual blood—which is partly blood and partly tissue from the inside of the uterus flows from the uterus through the cervix and out of the body through the vagina.
The menstrual cycle describes the sequence of events that occur within a woman’s body as it prepares for the possibility of pregnancy each month. A menstrual cycle begins on the first day of a period and the average cycle is 28 days long; however, a cycle can range in length from 21 days to about 35 days. Girls begin their period at the average age of 12. However, a girl can begin menstruating as early as 8 years of age or as late as 16 years of age.
Some symptoms that accompany menstruation are; Moodiness, Trouble sleeping, Food cravings, Cramps in the lower abdomen and back, Bloating, Tenderness in the breasts, Acne, and so on.
The steps in the menstrual cycle are triggered by the rise and fall of chemicals in the body called hormones. The pituitary gland in the brain and the ovaries in the female reproductive tract manufacture and release certain hormones at certain times during the menstrual cycle that cause the organs of the reproductive tract to respond in certain ways.
However, there are some misconceptions about periods that we need to set straight. Details of blood can make everyone a little shy, sharing these tips might be helpful to try to clear a few things up about menstruation.
1: It’s OK to discard feelings when on our period.
There’s a very real physical change in a woman’s body during this time. In the days leading up to a woman’s period beginning — when she’s “PMSing” — her levels of estrogen while her levels of progesterone sharply increase.
Estrogen is linked to serotonin, the “happy hormone,” and progesterone is linked to the part of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and depression. The effects of hormones on mood are complicated, and while progesterone may depress some emotions, it has a mood-balancing effect.
It may be tempting to write off seemingly drastic changes in moods as “just hormones,” but mood changes caused by hormones are still real. It may happen on a more monthly basis but doesn’t invalidate a woman’s feelings.
2: Period blood is dirty blood
Period blood isn’t rejected body fluids or the body’s way of flushing out toxins. Think of it as evolved vaginal secretion — there’s a little bit of blood, uterine tissue, mucus lining, and bacteria. Period blood is very different from the blood that moves continuously through the veins. It’s less concentrated blood. It has fewer blood cells than ordinary blood.
3: Periods are a personal issue
Periods are humanitarian crises. In 2014, the United Nations declared that menstrual hygiene was a public health issue. Many people don’t have access to the proper hygiene, resources, and support they need for their periods. In India, girls miss school 1 to 2 days every month because of their periods, which can drastically affect their education and future.
4: Periods are shameful
The thought that periods are awful, shameful, and dirt needs to be done away with. The truth is, women have a long history of embarrassment to overcome. It’s so ingrained in our behavior that being put on blast for having our period doesn’t help.
We shouldn’t have to feel like we need to whisper about needing a tampon or hide a tampon up our sleeve. Periods aren’t anything out of the ordinary, and neither is talking about them.
The best way to eradicate the stigma is to stop seeing menstruation as shameful. Periods balance hormones, and it helps women stay young! Seriously, periods are part of women’s body’s answer to slowing aging and even reducing risks of cardiovascular disease.