“Shhh, don’t shout nobody should hear you and nobody should know.”
That is how the topic on menstruation has always been. It should not be talked about and it is something to be ashamed of. No wonder why there is a belief that all women menstruate at the end of the month.
I always felt that even the science classes on mensuration were not fully delivered because tutors found it difficult to explore the subject, calling it ‘a girls’ thing’. One thing we need to know is that menstruation is a biological process, just like food digestion. It is something that both men and women should talk about and know in detail. Lack of knowledge on the subject is what actually makes it uncomfortable for both women and men. If we didn’t talk about menstruation behind closed doors, most of us would know what is below.
- Menstruation is what most people call having your period. During menstruation, the woman’s body sheds the lining of the uterus and blood flows out through a woman’s vagina.
- Menstrual blood is actually no different from a cut on your knee or a nose bleed. One small difference is that there is some tissue as well, since menstruation involves shedding the uterine lining after ovulation
- Menstruation usually happens each month, and lasts from 3 to 7 days. A cycle is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long.
- Menstruation usually begins when a girl is between 9 and 16 years old and continues until she is 45 to 55.
- Menstruation differs from woman to woman. For some, it starts as early as 9 years old for some it starts as late as 16 or 17. It is however advisable for one to get a medical opinion, if they get to 16 without experiencing their first period.
- Most girls usually start menstruation at the age of 12. A woman may get her periods until the age of 50. However this varies from woman to woman.
- A woman’s period can change throughout her lifetime. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens.
- Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of a woman’s body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep a woman healthy. It also prepares her body for pregnancy each month.
- A single menstrual period usually releases between two tablespoons and less than half a cup of blood, including clots. If the amount exceeds a cup for a single period, that could be a sign of a serious medical problem.
- A woman can use, pads, tampons or menstrual cups during menstruation. The choice depends on one’s preferences. However this is sometimes determined by the cost and availability. (That is why we need all sanitary products to be affordable and easily available. We could actually do with price controls)
- A pad should be changed every few hours, or when it is soaked with fluid. This will depend with one’s flow. Pads are made either of cotton or organic cotton. Some pads are for light flows and others for heavy flows. At night, one will need to use a thinker pad.
- Tampons can fit inside the vagina and it should not be painful to put on one. Practice is however necessary. Some tampons come with applicators and others have to be inserted using the hand. Tampons have a string that hangs outside the vagina, which should make it easy to remove. They also come in different sizes.
- A tampon should be removed every 3 to 4 hours, this is very important. It’s safest to use the least absorbent tampon you need. If a tampon is left in place for a long time it can cause a rare illness called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). This condition is the result of toxins produced by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. It is caused by bacterial infection. Symptoms include vomiting, high fever, diarrhea, muscle aches, sore throat, dizziness, faintness or weakness, and a sunburn-type rash
- Tampon insertion does not cause a woman to get aroused. A woman can use a tampon and still be virgin. (Just so you know)
- Just like tampons, menstrual cups can be inserted into the vagina. One should also practise in order to insert them correctly. If left for too long, they also cause TSS.
- When using a menstrual cup, cleaning is key. When washing it, use oil-free unscented soap every 12 hours. If you happen to be using a public ablution facility, rinse it with clean water and do the thorough wash later. It is advisable to boil menstrual cups for five to ten minutes at the end of each cycle. (NB: Tampons, pads, menstrual cups are not luxuries, please remove heavy taxes on them.)
- The medical name for cramps is dysmenorrhea. Menstrual cramps occur when the uterus contracts to help the lining separate and leave the body. Some women experience these just before and/or during menstruation. If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissue of the uterus. Pain results when part of the muscle briefly loses its supply of oxygen. Pain can range from mild to severe, can typically last for 12 to 72 hours, and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and even diarrhea.
- To relieve menstrual pain, one should take ibuprofen, aspirin, any other pain reliever or whatever is recommended by a medical practitioner. Other remedies include, massaging the lower back and abdomen, exercising, placing a heat pad or hot water bottle on the lower back and abdomen. Regular exercise reduces the risk of menstrual pain. Soaking in hot bath also helps.
- According to www.plannedparenthood.org, physical and/or emotional changes that one may feel in the week or two before menstruation begins are called Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Symptoms include, feeling tired, food cravings, acne, constipation, breast tenderness, headaches joint or muscle pain, mood swings trouble falling asleep upset stomach, constipation, crying depression or diarrhea.
- Pain relievers can also help with PMS. It is true for most women that birth control pills help with PMS but one needs to consult their doctor first.
- Excessive bleeding may lead to menorrhagia, a condition where the uterus lining is built up very thick. A thyroid problem or fibroids can also lead to heavy bleeding and one needs to get medical attention when that occurs.
- A woman can experience irregular periods until 18 years of age. For most women, periods tend to regularise after that age. However some women can experience irregular periods for most of their lives. An irregular period is one that comes earlier or later than usual or expected. A missed period is usually a sign of pregnancy, but one should confirm with a pregnancy test. Reasons for a menstrual cycle change could include, birth control menopause, over exercising, poor nutrition, stress, sudden weight gain or loss and travel.
- On healthcommunities.com, it is stated that, bleeding between menstrual periods is another common type of menstrual problem. Abnormal uterine bleeding can be a symptom of another medical condition, which can vary from minor to serious. Women who experience abnormal uterine bleeding should contact a health care provider.
- If one has vaginal sex during their period, they can get pregnant. A sperm can survive in the human body for up to one week. The risk of getting pregnant is higher when one has sex towards the end of their cycle.
- Research has shown that, smoking cigarettes can kill a woman’s eggs and lead to early menopause.
- During menstruation, a woman’s level of progesterone which lowers a woman’s libido is at its lowest. This leads to an increased sex drive.
- Women experience brutal periods during winter. Duration tends to be longer and pain is more severe.
- A heavy flow can cause an iron deficiency in the body. Low iron levels trigger anemia which can lead to fogginess, fatigue and mood swings.
Main image taken from en.wikipedia.org