The shedding of the lining of the uterine (endometrium) is called menstruation or a period. Menstruation is also called as menses. During the reproductive age, all the female humans and some female mammals have regular menstruation or periods. Periods which include bleeding through the vagina is mainly found in humans and identical animals like primates. The shedding of the uterine lining is re-absorbed in many mammals. In human, a period or menstruation is bleeding from the uterus or womb, is released through the vagina. In every 28 days women have a period. However, in some women the period may occur in every 24 days and in some women it may occur in every 35 days. It is a part of the menstrual cycle of a woman. “Menses” is derived from the Latin word menses which means “Month” and the word “menstruation“, is derived from the French word menstrual which mean “monthly”.
A girl starts having periods when each and every part that makes up a girl’s reproductive system is mature and works together. A girl’s period starts between the ages of 8 to 16 years. Usually periods start when a girl is at an age of 12 years. Periods are one of the many signs that say that a girl is becoming a woman. Menstruation is an important phase in a girl’s puberty. Approximately 6 months, prior to getting her first menstrual cycle, a girl may feel clear vaginal discharge. It may itchiness or may have a strong odour. This has nothing to worry as it is completely normal. Regular periods occur till the menopause is reached by the women. Usually menopause for the women arrives between the ages of 45 years to 55 years.
Commencement of the menstrual cycle or periods may be welcomed with impatience and joy by some girls whereas some other girls may feel uneasy or scared. Fear and uneasiness are mainly found in the girls who are unaware of the reproductive system and the menstrual cycle, well.
The earlier a girl gets her first period, the higher is the chances of getting obese children in the future.
SYMPTOMS: When a woman has her period, her flow of blood through the vagina may seem heavy. In most of the women, the blood lost during a period amounts between 5 to 12 teaspoons. Women experiencing blood flow heavier than the normal are said to be in a condition called menorrhagia, which with the help of medicines may be treated.
Premenstrual Tension (PMT) or Premenstrual Syndrome:
During the menstrual cycle of a woman, the collection of physical, emotional and psychological symptoms is called premenstrual tension or premenstrual syndrome. The following symptoms may be felt by some of the women, prior to the days of having their menstrual cycle:
- Headache (including migraine).
- Swelling or tenderness of the breast.
- Lack of concentration.
- Emotionally disturbed.
Immediately after the commencement of the menstrual cycle, symptoms that are listed above usually improve. The symptoms completely go away by the end of the period.
CONSEQUENCES OF MENSTRUAL DISORDERS: Disorders of menstruation or periods include the following:
- Menorrhagia (heavy bleeding): There is excessive bleeding or long periods in menorrhagia.
- Amenorrhea (Absence of period): Amenorrhea is considered primary when a girl does not have her first period till the age of 16 years and it is considered secondary when a woman getting her regular period stops getting it for at least 3 months.
- Oligo-menorrhea (infrequent or light menstrual): In oligomenorrhea, the periods generally occur more than 35 days apart. It may be a matter of concern if periods occur more than 90 days apart.
- Dysmenorrhoea (painful cramps during periods): Menstruation causes primary Dysmenorrhoea itself. Uterine fibroids or condition like endometriosis causes secondary Dysmenorrhoea.
- Painkillers: Women having pain and discomfort during their periods may have some painkillers like aspirin, Tylenol (paracetamol), ibuprofen.
- Exercise: To reduce the level of pain and discomfort felt by the women during their periods, exercise has been found to be of a great help.
- Relaxation techniques: These may include medication, massage and breathing exercise.
- Hot water bottle: Holding a hot water bottle against the areas of the abdomen may help in reducing the discomfort.
- Warm bath: A warm bath may also reduce the pain and discomfort of a woman during her period.