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Menstruation (also known as Menses or Menstrual/Monthly Period or Period) is a periodic discharge of blood and uterus lining through the vagina. The menses is a major sign of puberty in girls. A girl will notice some vagina discharge months before her first period which might be disturbing for some who do not have prior knowledge on Menses. Menarche is the term used for the first period experience while menopause is the end of a woman’s fertility and thus stoppage of menstruation. A woman’s body prepares for pregnancy every month and when there is no sperm to fertilize the woman’s egg, the womb sheds its lining in form of blood from the vagina.
The age at which period starts differs depending on biological make-up, puberty and nutrition. Normally, it starts between ages 12-16 and stops from age 50 and above (Menopause). A “Menstrual cycle” is the time between a woman’s periods which may last between 21-45 days. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. The time starts from the first day of bleeding in a month to the first day of bleeding in the following month. To calculate it, two months are taken into consideration. For instance, if a woman sees her period on the 19th of March for that month and sees the other on the 14th of April, she starts counting from the 19th of March to the 14th of April and between these dates are 27 days. Thus, her menstrual cycle is 27 days. There might be variations which might be due to stress, diet, and increased sugar intake. But, she can get her normal cycle by calculating for four or six months, which will still fall in the range of 27 days. It is important to note that menstrual cycle differs in girls and women.
The bleeding during menstruation lasts between 3-7 days and this also varies in women. The flow rate at which blood comes out of the vaginal also varies which could be mild, average or heavy. There are signs associated with Menstrual Period. Some signs are before (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) while some during the period (Menstrual Syndrome). The most common sign in most girls and women is pain in the abdomen (Menstrual cramps or pains) which occur when the muscle of the uterus contracts or excess release of Prostaglandin. Others are back pain, irritation, vomiting, pimples, changes in diet which could be loss of or increase in appetite, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, restlessness, sleepless nights, emotional and behavioural changes, lack of concentration, mood swings, physical changes such as breast swelling, breast tenderness, sex drive, fatigue, headache, sweating.
Sanitary pads and towels, tampons, liners, menstrual cups are used to absorb the bleeding during menstruation. Pads, towels and liners are put on the pants while tampons and menstrual cups are inserted into the vaginal. Tampons absorb the blood while cups holds and catch the blood. Swimmers prefer the use of tampons and it is advisable to be used during the day. These two (tampons and cups) are found to be risky as they have adverse effects if not properly inserted. Ladies are advised to make use of sanitary pads and other absorbents that are external. Pant liners are used to avoid pant stains in case of any leakage. They are also used in light flows.
Women with heavy flow of blood are advised to make use of clean towels instead of constant change of pads which may be inconvenient and hinder the day activities. Towels should be washed, sun dried, ironed and folded neatly in a safe environment till the next month. Other absorbents should be changed when due and disposed appropriately. Ladies should take care of menstrual pads because it is one of the major cause of vagina infections. Ladies should note the sanitary towel that works for them.
Irregularities in Menstruation
Irregularities in menstruation include long days of bleeding (more than a week), heavy flow that include the change of sanitary pads in an hour or two, irregular Menstrual cycle (28 days in a month and 45 in another), painful experience during the period to the extent of getting admitted in the hospital. Girls that have undergone genital mutilation or circumcision have the highest tendency to experience pains during menstruation.
Reasons for Menses Irregularity
Normally, menstruation stops due to pregnancy but there are other reasons for delay or suspension of periods. Stress is a major cause. When a woman is worn-out, worked-up, or has change in schedules, there is always reduction in the hormonal pH which hinders ovulation and menstruation. Sickness, infections, gain in weight, loss in weight, increase intake of sugar, salt or alcohol, mis- calculation of menstrual cycle, excessive exercise can lead to suspension of menstrual period. Fear and anxiety of being pregnant can lead to stress which in turn can cause delay in periods. Changes in medication, birth control pills impact on the body which can affect the menstrual cycle. Tumors and fibroids can also cause Irregularities and pains in period.
How to Cope During Menstruation period
Menstrual pain can slow down or hinder a day activities, it can lead to being sluggish and inactive. To avoid this, measures should be taken. They include prescribed pain-reliever pills and herbal medicines, taking of hot baths, exercises, stretching, reduction of sugar intake, salt, alcohol, caffeine intake before and during the period, hot towels and pads can be placed on the abdomen to reduce cramps, massage of the body, back and abdomen. In cases of severe pain, doctors and gynecologists should be consulted. Herbs like Aloe Vera, Unripe Pawpaw, and Ginger are also helpful to reduce cramps.
Sexual intercourse during periods exposes women’ bodies to infections. During menstruation, the pH of the vagina is higher and less acidic, the cervical is wider and less tight, uterus lining that prevent the entrance of dangerous organism is absent, thus, increasing the chances of infection. All these risks that women are exposed to makes sexual intercourse during menstruation wrong, which might shorten the length of the period. All activities that lead to Irregularities and painful menstrual periods should be avoided. A good hygiene should be attained during periods so as to prevent foul smell, irritations and vagina infections.
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