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  • Dr, Tuesday Pearson

Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle: A Comprehensive Guide



A woman goes through her menstrual cycle every month for a minimum of 5 days, where her body experiences different changes. All this is in preparation for pregnancy and hormonal changes. Many young girls are still unaware of periods because they haven't gotten proper menstrual education from their parents or teachers. It’s important to know all about menstruation because, sooner or later, every girl will experience it in her life.


This is a menstrual cycle guide about female reproductive health and general well-being.


What Is Menarche?


Menarche (pronounced muh naar kee) is a time when you get your first period. Menarche is a very important time of a girl's life because it marks a milestone of entering into fertility. When a girl gets her first period, it is an indication of the fact that she can now get pregnant and conceive a child. Unless you have health conditions that can prevent you from getting pregnant.


Symptoms Of First Period Of Girl


When you're about to get your first period (menarche), these are the symptoms that you'll experience:

  • Cramps in your tummy, lower back, or legs)

  • You feel bloated in your stomach

  • Sore or erect breasts

  • Breakouts on your face

  • Different mood swings than usual

  • Fatigue and low energy

Before the actual blood flow starts, you'll notice a few drops of blood on your underwear or while you're peeing. This is an indication that your period has started, and soon enough, you'll get a heavy flow of blood coming out of your vagina from time to time. It starts heavy but then gradually slows down as the first 2 days pass. Remember that it lasts for 5 days for some girls, but it can also take up to 7 to 9 days in total for some girls. First menarche is always unpredictable and follows unique symptoms for every girl, so don't worry if your symptoms don't match with the ones we mentioned above.


Why Do Girls Have Periods?


Periods, also known as menstruation, are part of a girl's reproductive system and her entrance to fertility. There are multiple reasons why a girl gets her period:

  • It prepares you for pregnancy. Every month, a woman's body releases eggs from her ovaries (also called ovulation), where your uterus thickens to let the released eggs implant in your uterus.

  • One of the ovaries usually produces an egg throughout the menstrual period. This step is critical for reproduction because it allows the egg and sperm to combine to form a fertilized embryo.

  • As we said, every month, your body releases eggs in the hope of getting pregnant, so when that doesn't happen, the uterine lining is no longer needed. Therefore, menstruation is a way of shedding those tissues and preparing your uterus for new ones.

  • Some hormones like estrogen and progesterone are linked with your periods and are also vital for our body's functionality.

Periods prepare a woman's body for potential pregnancy and their overall reproductive system. Getting regular periods without any abnormalities is a sheer blessing.


When Is Your Period Officially Over for the Month?


The duration of your period can vary from person to person, as everyone's health is not the same. It can typically last anywhere between 2 - 7 days. However, for some women, it lasts longer, up to 9 days, and that's completely normal. Here are a few signs to know your period is officially over:

  • The first and the most obvious sign to know that your period is there's no bleeding at all. It will reduce in the last days of your periods, but you won't see a single drop of blood coming out of your vagina when it's over.

  • You'll notice a clear discharge of fluid from your vagina because your body is transitioning to normality now. The color of a normal discharge is often clear or off-white, which is considered healthy.

  • When you're no longer experiencing any symptoms like cramps, mood swings, and tenderness of your breasts.


4 Phases of Menstrual Cycle and Moods


Your period consists of 4 phases, and mood swings are part of them. It happens due to fluctuations in your hormones during each phase. It's important to have complete knowledge of your menstrual phases and how they affect your mood:


Periods (Day 1-5)


You will experience unusual and mostly unpredictable mood swings. You're happy in one moment and sob like a child in the next. These mood swings are often referred to as premenstrual syndrome "PMS," which you must have commonly heard.


Follicular Phase (Day 1-13)


Your estrogen begins to rise in this phase because your body is preparing for upcoming ovulation. During this phase, women are comparatively more energetic, and their mood seems to be good. You also feel the need to be social and creative during this phase.


Ovulation (Mid-cycle, around Day 14)


Women experience increased sexual desire and confidence during this phase as their estrogen levels are at their peak. Having social and emotional mood swings during this phase is completely normal.


Luteal Phase (Day 15-28)


This phase leads you to your coming menstrual cycle, and your PMS is at its peak. Some women also experience extended anxiety, depression, and stress during the luteal phase. It mainly happens because your progesterone levels fall due to no pregnancy.

These are the 4 menstrual cycle phases that every woman goes through every month. If you experience unusual menstrual phases and they’re interrupting the quality of your life, then we suggest you speak with an OBGYN. If you’re in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Joya can be a perfect choice for you!


Signs Your Daughter Is About To Start Her Period


It is not possible for any mother to determine when her daughter is going to have her first period. But being a mother, we understand that you have concerns regarding her first period and how she will manage everything. We can't tell exactly about the first periods of girls, but here are a few signs you can consider to determine:


Growth spurt


As we explained above, your estrogen levels grow during the period, so when your first period is arriving, you'll notice a growth of spurt down there. It can grow up to 1 to 2 inches.


Stomach Aches


Bloating is an early sign of your upcoming menstrual cycle days. You'll feel fuller in your stomach even if you haven't completed your usual meal. You can also have common digestion problems like nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, or constipation. These are your clues for periods.


Mood Swings and Fatigue


PMS is very common before and during periods due to hormonal changes. If you notice unreasonable mood fluctuations, this is also your sign for periods.


Tender and Firm Breasts


You'll find your nipples erected before and during your menstrual cycle and also the increase in their size.


Vaginal Discharge


Vaginal discharge can appear 6 to 12 months before the first menstruation. It is often light, thin, and white, with no odor. It is frequently caused by an increase in estrogen during this stage of development.


FAQs


Is it OK to wear a pad for 12 hours?


Absolutely not! Even if there's little or no blood flow at all, wearing a pad for over 12 hours can be dangerous. You must change your period product every 5 to 6 hours when the flow is light. Otherwise, change it in 3 to 4 hours when the flow is heavy.


How much blood is lost during periods?


According to the CDC, the average blood loss during a menstrual cycle is about 2-3 teaspoons. Heavy periods, on the other hand, can result in twice that amount of blood loss.


How many pads are normal for a period per day?


It depends on the blood flow you're having. In the first 2 days, when the blood flow is heavy, change your pads 8 9 times a day. When the flow slows down, you can change 4 to 5 pads each day.


Takeaway Message


We hope this comprehensive menstrual cycle guide has guided you regarding periods and everything regarding them. It can be overwhelming for those who are going to get their periods for the first time, but believe us; you’ll get used to it. It has many benefits for our body, especially our reproductive system.

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