With the onset of puberty, the menstrual cycle makes its appearance, confirming that the little girl will be soon turning into a woman, who will be ready for childbearing. There are already a lot of changes in the body preceding the onset of monthly periods, which will have confused the teenager enough. Hence, it is important to provide proper guidance and create awareness among the girls; so that the onset of periods would not add to the already existing confusion during this new phase of their life.

Commencement of menstrual cycle

Normally a girl will start menstruating between the ages of 10-16 yrs and ceases to menstruate at menopause when she nearing the 50 yr mark. The first onset of period, known as menarche, will happen only when all reproductive organs in the girl have matured and are working together. The age of Menarche is decreasing among the girls from developing nations, where now it usually starts between the ages of 8-13 years.

The process of menstruation

Most of the cultures and religions have attached a stigma to this natural process, making it something that women usually do not talk about in open. It is important to create awareness among people that menstruation is a mere process that prepares a female’s body for pregnancy.

Every month, one of the two ovaries produces a mature ovum or egg, which can be fertilized to develop into a fetus. The walls of uterus thicken when the ovaries release a hormone known as estrogen, in preparation for the fertilized egg and to provide nutrients for it on its arrival.

After ovulation, if fertilization occurs, then the pregnancy ensues; which means the woman is not going to menstruate until childbirth. But, if the released ovum is not fertilized, the enriched uterine lining, known as endometrium, breaks down and is slowly disposed of through the vagina.

The process lasts between 5-7 days in a normal cycle, during which time about 50-250 milliliters of blood is lost. Though the perfect menstrual cycle has a gap of 28 days, a period which occurs between 25-31 days is considered to be normal.

Signs and symptoms

Many women go through a lot of irritating symptoms during the menstrual period. Most of them also experience premenstrual discomfort commonly known as PMS. Bleeding through the vagina involuntarily is one of the main signs of the period. The other symptoms are mood swings, crying spells for no apparent reason, nervousness, fatigue, headache, and depression.

Some women experience terrible painful cramps known as dysmenorrhea during the starting 1-2 days of the period. During earlier times, the symptoms were considered purely psychological, due to which many women suffered through their periods. Mercifully, medical research has now proved that the hormonal and chemical changes taking place in the body are responsible for the PMS, which have brought forth new medications for relief of the symptoms.

Some women are lucky enough to experience positive sensations like relief, creative energy, exhilaration and increased sex drive with more intense orgasms during the rising and falling of hormonal levels of their periods.

When to get help

The normal menstrual cycle occurs every month and lasts about 7 days. A minor deviation from the schedule should not be a cause of concern; but, if the period lasts more than 8 days, has heavy bleeding, commences within 2 weeks of last cycle, the discharge has clots, there are severe menstrual cramps, or if there is bad odor in the discharge, then it is important to get medical advice.

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