The process in a woman of discharging blood and other material from the lining of the uterus at intervals of about one lunar month from puberty until the menopause, except during pregnancy is simply referred to as MENSTRUATION.
It is a natural process undergone by matured women on a monthly basis which is one of the natural bodily occurrences that announces puberty in women.
Menstruation (men-STRAY-shuhn) is a woman’s monthly bleeding. When you menstruate, your body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina. Most menstrual periods last from 3 to 5 days.
When periods (menstruations) come regularly, this is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep you healthy. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. A cycle is counted from the first day of 1 period to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens.
What happens during the menstrual cycle?
In the first half of the cycle, levels of estrogen (the “female hormone”) start to rise. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping you healthy, especially by helping you to build strong bones and to help keep them strong as you get older. Estrogen also makes the lining of the uterus (womb) grow and thicken. This lining of the womb is a place that will nourish the embryo if a pregnancy occurs. At the same time the lining of the womb is growing, an egg, or ovum, in one of the ovaries starts to mature. At about day 14 of an average 28-day cycle, the egg leaves the ovary. This is called ovulation.
After the egg has left the ovary, it travels through the Fallopian tube to the uterus. Hormone levels rise and help prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. A woman is most likely to get pregnant during the 3 days before or on the day of ovulation. Keep in mind, women with cycles that are shorter or longer than average may ovulate before or after day 14.
A woman becomes pregnant if the egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm cell and attaches to the uterine wall. If the egg is not fertilized, it will break apart. Then, hormone levels drop, and the thickened lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual period.
- Day 1 starts with the first day of your period. This occurs after hormone levels drop at the end of the previous cycle, signaling blood and tissues lining the uterus (womb) to break down and shed from the body. Bleeding lasts about 5 days.
- Usually by Day 7, bleeding has stopped. Leading up to this time, hormones cause fluid-filled pockets called follicles to develop on the ovaries. Each follicle contains an egg.
- Between Day 7 and 14, one follicle will continue to develop and reach maturity. The lining of the uterus starts to thicken, waiting for a fertilized egg to implant there. The lining is rich in blood and nutrients.
- Around Day 14 (in a 28-day cycle), hormones cause the mature follicle to burst and release an egg from the ovary, a process called ovulation.
- Over the next few days, the egg travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If a sperm unites with the egg here, the fertilized egg will continue down the fallopian tube and attach to the lining of the uterus.
- If the egg is not fertilized, hormone levels will drop around Day 25. This signals the next menstrual cycle to begin. The egg will break apart and be shed with the next period.
CAUSES OF PAINFUL MENSTRUATION.
Some women experience minimal or mild discomfort during menstruation, but others suffer from severe, debilitating pain that prevents them from doing their day-to-day activities. None of us knows what another woman’s pain is like, so it is useful to understand what periods should feel like and then decide if all is normal. Some women might have always experienced painful periods; others might develop pain. Period pain is more common in adolescents and women in their 20s, but can also occur in older women.
Period pain happens when the muscles in the uterus contract or tighten. Pain can include cramping and heaviness in the pelvic area, as well as pain in the lower back, stomach or even legs. Some women also experience nausea, vomiting, paleness, diarrhoea or loose bowels. Women who experience painful periods can have higher levels of prostaglandins – a natural body chemical that causes contractions of the uterus, bowel and blood vessels.
Period pain is the most common cause of pelvic pain.
Period pain is only considered ‘normal’ if:
- the pain is there only on the first one or two days of your period
- the pain goes away if you take period pain medications or use the contraceptive pill
- your ability to do your normal activities is not impaired.
If the pain is not like this, it is not normal.
Painful periods can be due to:
- pain in the uterine (womb) muscle (myometrium), especially if the pain is on the first one or two days of a period
- pain from endometriosis and/or adenomyosis, especially if the pain is present for more than one to two days before the period starts.
Many women with strong period pain have both these problems, and women with adenomyosis have a more painful uterus than other women, even if it looks normal.
Adenomyosis is a condition in which the cells that normally form a lining in the uterus also grow in the muscle wall of the uterus.
Endometriosis is a condition in which cells similiar to those found in the lining of the uterus (endometrium), grow outside the uterus. It used to be thought of as an uncommon problem of women in their 30s and 40s. We now know it is a common problem that usually starts in the teens (see our webpages on endometriosis).
Symptom relief for painful periods
If simple treatments for period pain don’t help, see your doctor to discuss the possible causes and what might be best to do in your individual case.
Some of the relief for painful periods are:
1.Applying heat on the belly or lower backs helps in relaxing muscles.
2.Regular exercises releases endorphins which is a natural feel hormone.
3.Relaxing with rest,warm baths or meditating relieves stress.
In conclusion, menstruation s a process that ought to be easy and stress- free but it is quite common int he present dispensation of human existence with many women having a hard timeon a monthly basis to undergo this natural occurrence.