Menstrual Cycle: Symptoms, Phases, Period Tracking & More
Menstruation is natural and an important part of a woman’s well-being, and it is great that you are interested in learning about your menstrual cycle. The more you know, the better!
It is completely understandable if you are shy about discussing menstruation. Many young girls are, and hence they prefer reading about it in private. We will try to educate you with the help of this article.
You can learn about the duration of a normal menstrual cycle, the symptoms, distinct phases, and ways to track and monitor the cycles. This may sound like a lot now, but with time you will get the hang of it. Let’s take a closer look at menstruation and the menstrual cycle.
What is Menstruation?
Menstruation [say-MEN-stroo-AY-shuhn] is the technical name for your period, which is when blood discharges from your vagina. It starts shortly after the beginning of puberty in girls, usually between the ages of 12 and 13. Girls have gotten their first period earlier or even at an older age.
Did you know the first occurrence of menstruation is called menarche?
Let us get you familiar with the menstrual cycle phases in the form of days.
What is a Menstrual Cycle?
It is a four-week course and your period days are a part of it. The menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period and ends when the next period begins. The menstrual cycle has different phases that differ from woman to woman.
Overview of the menstrual cycle phases
The menstrual cycle has four phases:
1. Menstruation Phase
This is your period cycle.
2. Follicular Phase
The phase when bleeding stops and the uterine lining begins to develop again.
3. Ovulatory Phase
In this phase, the ovaries release the egg for fertilisation.
4. The Luteal Phase
This is the last phase where, either the egg is fertilised by the sperm cells or uterus linings break down and shed away. These phases keep on repeating over and over every month, leading to periods.
Here is a detailed guide to better understand these phases.
Changes that you will Notice
Days 1 to 5 or 7
The first day of the period is considered day 1 of the cycle. Bleeding is usually heavy for the first 2-3 three days, and it slowly stops by the 5th or 7th day.
Days 6 to 14
Once the bleeding stops in 5 to 7 days, the uterus lining starts to prepare (becomes thicker and enriched with blood and nutrients) for the possible pregnancy.
Day 14 to 25
Nearby the 14th day, an egg is discharged from one of the ovaries and it travels down the fallopian tubes and reaches the uterus. Here fertilisation occurs if the sperm is present.
Days 25 to 28
If the egg was not fertilised, then the uterus prepares to clear its inner lining, which is no longer required. The generated egg also breaks down and gets released with the linings.
This is how the cycle is completed, and it begins again on day 1. On average, the menstrual flow repeats in 21 to 40 days and lasts for three to seven days. The average duration of the cycles is around 5 days.
Tracking your menstrual cycle
Tracking will help you understand what is normal for your body and what is not. Especially now when you are learning about the menstrual cycle and its symptoms.
You don't have to worry. It is not like you have to make complex math calculations. Tracking your menstrual cycle is simply keeping a record.
You just need to document:
• The day when your bleeding began and ended
• The number of days your period lasted
• The days of heavy bleeding
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and other behavioural changes
Usually, women document their cycles in a diary or mark them on the calendar. To make it easier, you can also use a Kotex period tracker. You just need to add some basic details, and the period tracker will help you keep track.
Irregularities in the menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is not a perfect sequence that works like clockwork. There are hiccups and delays, and irregularities. Some delays can even extend for months or even years, but the reasons are not always serious.
An irregular cycle is common in the initial 1-2 years after your first period, as your body is adapting to the hormonal changes.Also, a single missed period, delayed or early period, happens sometimes due to hormonal changes.
But if your menstrual cycle is consistently irregular, it could be a sign of infection or a health problem. Some of the reasons for irregular period cycles are:
• Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
This common hormonal imbalance prevents an egg from developing normally in the ovaries, leading to irregular menstrual cycles or missed periods.
• Eating disorders, excessive weight loss/gain or extreme exercising
Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, etc.), drastic weight loss or gain and sudden increased physical activity can also disturb menstruation regularity.
• Stress and anxiety
Excess stress and anxiety can also lead to menstrual irregularities, uncertainties in periods, or even quicker and smaller menstrual cycles.
• Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
This is an infection in the reproductive organs, which can cause uneven menstrual bleeding.
• Uterine fibroids
This noncancerous development in the uterus leads to longer and heavier cycles than usual.
Periods stop during pregnancy. Thus, missed periods can be a sign of expected pregnancy.
Common menstruation problems to watch out for
Some of the common menstrual problems most women faces are:
• Periods become irregular after a few regular cycles
• Bleeding continues for more than seven days
• Periods cycle repeats in less than 21 days or does not repeat for more than 45 days
• Intense and prolonged pain during the period
• Heavily uncontrolled bleeding as compared to usual days
• Bleeding in between periods
• Periods unexpectedly stop for more than 90 days, and you're not pregnant also.
The above signs should not be overlooked. Consult a doctor for advice.
Familiarising yourself with your menstrual cycle and how it works is important. It can help you avoid health problems. Do share this information with any of your friends or family members and help them learn as well.
A natural and significant aspect of women's health is the menstrual cycle. Discover the symptoms, phases, period tracking, and more at Kotex.