In females the limits of reproductive life are very sharp. It begins with the onset of puberty. The MENARCHE (1ST MENSURATION) appears in a young girl around the age of 13 years. It comes to an end with MENOPAUSE (CESSATION OF REPRODUCTION) .
Beginning of MENSTRUATION on attaining puberty is called MENARCHE. Whereas physiological cessation of menstrual cycle and consequently end of reproduction life is called MENOPAUSE.

WHAT IS MENSTRUATION AND MENSTRUAL CYCLE?

Menstruation also known as period is the cyclic discharge of blood, mucus, unfertilized egg, cell debris and certain other substances from the inner linings of uterus at an average interval of 28 days in the reproductive life of human female, which ends around the age of 40-55 years. During this period about 13 eggs mature each year. Since the female has about 30-32 years of reproductive life, upto 416 eggs have a chance of reaching maturity. The remaining eggs are absorbed or degenerated.

The recurring ovarian cycles of about 28 days in the reproductive life of a female, accompanied by the release of usually one mature egg is called menstrual cycle in the human female.
The menstrual cycle consist of a series of changes taking place simultaneously in the ovaries and uterus wall (ENDOMETRIUM) stimulated by different concentration of GONADOTROPINS (hormones that act on gonads) like LH and FSH.
Throughout the reproductive life cycle of a female a series of events occur after every 26 to 30 days.

Besides bleeding from the vagina, you may have:

  • Mood swings.
  • Irritability.
  • Pain in stomach.
  • Pimples or acne.
  • Tiredness.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Constipation.
  • Pain in the joints.
  • Tinder breast i.e., pain or discomfort.

WHEN DOES A GIRL USUALLY GET HER FIRST PERIOD?

The first period usually begins at the age of around 13-15 years in a young girl. This beginning of period is termed as MENARCHE. However periods may also start earlier at the age of 8 years, which is considered normal. The age of Menarche is later in developing countries and earlier in developed countries. IN USA study shows, since 1950 there is a change seen in the menarche age of young girls.

WHAT IS THE NORMAL DURATION BETWEEN TWO SUCCESSIVE PERIODS?

The duration between two successive periods i.e., first day of one period and first day of next period varies from women to women. But usually in young women it last from 21 to 45 days and 21 to 31 days in adult women. But a female facing frequent long alteration in duration between two successive periods must consult a doctor.

HOW LONG DOES A WOMAN HAVE PERIODS?

The Menarche usually begins at the age of around 12-13 in a young girl and as mentioned earlier in some females the periods can come earlier at the age of 8 which are usually considered normal. The cessation of periods i.e., Menopause occurs between the age around 45-55 after which the periods stops, ending the reproductive life cycle of females. Thus the reproductive life cycle of a female i.e., the menstrual life cycle last for 32-45years.

PHASES OF MENSTRUAL CYCLE?

                 image courtesy- dailypost

During Menstrual cycle the ovaries and uterus undergo many changes. These changes are divided into 4 main phases.

  • MENSTRUAL PHASE

This phase is also called BLEEDING PHASE. It extends from 1st day to 4th day of menstrual cycle. If the fertilization of ovum does not take place, the high level of Progesterone inhibits secretion of Luteinising hormone and thus the level of LH hormone decreases. This results in decrease level of progesterone from corpus luteum. The linings of uterus degenerates and it breaks down due to the inadequate nutrition of superficial layers of endometrium. It leads to menstruation which lasts for 3-4 days during which blood is discharged. This bleeding is caused due to shedding of uterine lining rupturing the blood vessels. Starting from the onset of the menstrual flow, the ovary begins to form new eggs in follicle.

  • FOLLICULAR PHASE / PROLIFERATIVE PHASE

This phase extends from 5TH to 13th day of menstrual cycle. In this phase the anterior pituitary begins the secretion of Follicle Stimulating Hormone that stimulates the development of an ovarian follicle in the ovary.The ovum becomes eccentric and it is connected by few follicular called CUMOLUS OOPHORUS. A thick membrane is formed surrounding the outer surface of ovum called as ZONA PELLUCIDA. From the stroma of ovary there are two more membrane covering the follicle known as THECA INTERNA AND THECA EXTERNA.

As follicle grows, hormone estrogen is produced by it. Estrogen reactivates the wall of uterus so that it becomes thick and supplies it with lot of blood. This changes makes the uterus prepared to receive fertilized egg and to provide development of further embryo.

CHANGES IN UTERUS

Estrogen secreted by the follicular cells of ovary stimulates endometrial glands. This repairs the endometrium.The endometrial cells proliferate and thickness of endometrium grows about 3mm to 5mm.

  • OVULATORY PHASE

Ovulation is the process in which there is rupture of Graafian follicle with discharge of ovum into abdominal cavity. It is under the influence of luteinizing hormone. A sudden rise in the level of LH stimulates ovulation which occurs usually on 13th or 14th of menstrual cycle.The rupture of graafian follicle results in oozing out of follicular fluid. The ovum along with the radically arranged cells is released into the abdominal cavity. The ovum enters the fallopian tube through ostium assisted by fimbriae. The ovum is haploid since meiosis 2 is arrested at metaphase .If fertilization takes place the fertilized egg passes through fallopian tube and reaches the uterus on 3rd day after ovulation. The implantation of embryo in the uterine wall occurs 6th or 7th day. If fertilization does not occur the ovum degenerates.

  • LUTEAL PHASE/SECRETORY PHASE

This phase extends from 15th to 28th of menstrual cycle.
After the discharge of ovum, the rupture follicle and the remaining cells of the graafian follicle together form a yellow body called CORPUS LUTEUM. The corpus luteum acts as a temporary endocrine gland which secretes progesterone
Progesterone secretion is under the influence of luteinizing hormone. Progesterone helps in maintaining the thickness of endometrium, so it is also called PREGNANCY HORMONE.

HOW DOES ABORTION OCCURS?

The rupture follicle with remaining cells of graafian follicle together forms corpus luteum. The corpus luteum act as a temporary endocrine gland secretes progesterone under the influenceluteinizing hormone. Progesterone helps in maintaining the thickness of endometrium. Corpus luteum is active till the placenta takes up the function of secretion of hormone HUMAN CHORIONIC GONADO TROPHIN (HCG). HCG is similar to LH. Abortion occurs if corpus luteum becomes inactive before the formation of PLACENTA about three months of pregnancy.

WHY PERIODS/MENSTRUATION IS MISSING DURING PREGNANCY?

If the egg gets fertilized it gets implanted in the uterus and then there is no menstruation/periods till the pregnancy continues. This is because the level of hormone progesterone secreted by corpus luteum is increased and it prevents maturation of another follicle. Thus no shedding or menstruation takes place during this time. So missing of menstrual cycle or periods is the first indication of PREGNANCY.

WHEN FEMALES ARE MOST FERTILE/WHAT’S THE BEST TIME FOR FEMALES TO EXPECT PREGNANCY?

The ovum or the egg is the female gamete (sex cells) in the human beings and is highly specialized spherical cells. During fertilization the ovum fuses with the sperm (male gamete) after the sperm are released into vagina during sex. In ovulatory phase, ovulation occurs during the 13th or 14th day during which ovum enters the fallopian tube and reaches the uterus. After ovulation the ovum must be fertilized within 24 to 48 hrs, only during this time the ovum is viable for fertilization. Thus the best time for a female to expect pregnancy or the time at which the female is most fertile is on the 14th or 15th day of menstrual cycle.

WHY PERIODS ARE IRREGULAR?

Teenagers during their 1st couple of years of menstrual cycle may observe irregularity in their periods. Because during this time their body is still developing and ovaries may not release egg every month. Thus females having periods for 2 or less than 2 years, your irregular periods may be part of your normal body development.

In most females menstrual cycle becomes fairly regular as their hormone levels mature and synchronize in a required amount.
Other causes of late or missed period are:

  • STRESS

Stress is one of the major factor for missed period. It may be due to emotional stress or physical stress. Emotional stress like depression or mental loneliness and physical stress like severe illness, rapid weight loss, lot of physical activities or strenuous exercise, dieting are responsible for missed periods. Your periods will be regular when you make your daily activities normal.

  • PREGNANCY

Pregnancy is the most common factor for missed periods in females. Infact missed periods are the 1st indication of pregnancy. But it is best to consult your health care provider because the available home test kits are sometimes confusing and its always better to find out early pregnancy for starting parental care, which will help you to have a healthy baby. If you are pregnant your periods will be regular after the birth of your baby.

10 BEST HOME REMEDIES FOR IRREGULAR PERIODS

  • TURMERIC
    Turmeric is one of the most valuable medical herbs. Its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties relieve menstrual pain and cramps. Consume one or quarter teaspoon of turmeric with milk, honey or dark brown sugar. Consume it daily for several weeks till it shows result.
  • GINGER
    Ginger is highly recommended for getting rid of irregular periods. Boil small amount of ginger with a cup of water for 5-10 minutes and to it add a little sugar. Drink the mixture for 3 or 5 times a day post meal.
  • UNRIPE PAPAYA
    Consuming unripe papaya juice regularly for few weeks help regulating menstrual cycle as it has properties that helps in contracting the muscle fibres of uterus. Avoid it consuming during your periods.
  • ALOE VERA
    ALOE VERA is considered as one of the best remedy for treating the irregularities in menstrual cycle by naturally regulating the hormones. Extract aloe vera gel from aloe vera leafs and mix it with one teaspoon of honey and consume it daily before your breakfast.
  • SUGARCANE
    SUGARCANE is reach in fibre and maintains the hormone levels, resulting in eliminating the irregularities in periods. It is also rich in magnesium, sodium and other useful ions. Consume sugarcane one or two weeks prior to your periods for better regulation of menstrual cycle.
  • DRIED LATEX
    Consume small of powdered DRIED LATEX mixed with fried butter, milk and dash of honey for treating irregularities in periods. Dried latex contain compounds that helps in regulating the menstrual cycle.
  • CORIANDER SEEDS
    CORIANDER SEEDS are considered as the best home remedy for vanishing the irregularities in periods. It has a emmenagogue properties that not only stimulate the menstrual flow but also promote menstruation.Boil 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds in a cup of water and stain the solution. Consume this solution twice a day for better results.
  • GRAPES
    Consuming raw grapes or juice of grapes is great remedy for regulating the menstrual cycle. Grapes are great source of vitamin B, copper and vitamin C.
  • CALENDULA
    CALENDULA is a great source of flavonoids and quercetin that controls the blood circulation in body. It also contains analgesic properties that lessen the menstrual pain.
    Boil 2-3gm of marigold leaves with a cup of water and stain the solution. Consume the solution twice a day.
  • VITAMIN C
    VITAMIN C causes the release of estrogen in the body, which increases the contraction of muscle fibres of uterus that helps to start your period early.

WHEN IS A PERIOD CONSIDERED LATE?

A menstrual cycle is surveyed to be late if it hasn’t started 5 or more days after the day you anticipate it to start.

THE SAFEST DAYS FOR INTERCOURSE (SEX) TO AVOID PREGNANCY

There are some days in your menstrual cycle when you actually conceive a child. These are the days when you are not fertile. Think about it like these, for fertilization there must be fusion of egg and a sperm. An egg lives about a day after ovulation and the sperms are alive for about six days after sex or intercourse or when they are released in vagina. As per planned parenthood, “ the days near ovulation are the most fertile days”.

As mentioned earlier in the Ovulatory Phase , ovulation occurs on the 13th or 14th day of menstrual cycle during which the ovum or egg is released in the Fallopian tube, which then enters the uterus.

Thus the safe period i.e., the duration during which you need to be careful is from the day 1 today 7 of your menstrual cycle and day 21 to the rest of the cycle, when you can have sex without worrying of being pregnant. This period is not same for every women, it depends upon the length of menstrual cycle.

THINGS YOU SHOULD AVOID DOING DURING YOUR PERIODS

Bearing the pain, irritation and all over it the societies myth which hammers you mentally is tough enough, so being told to avoid some things that might be the one which makes you comfortable when nature mother strikes seems like further punishment. Though doing all the things during periods with a view that will keep you healthy, there are some small things that spoil your efforts and hammer your health. So we have enlisted such things that might be avoided.

  • Consuming the caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea may make you feel better during your periods. But studies show that caffeine blocks GABA in your brain, which increases your anxiety and heart beats. Thus it is better to consume green tea which soothes your cramps.
  • Exercising and other activities during your periods cause the release of associated endorphins which may lessen the cramping and pain to some extend during periods. So keep moving when your cycle starts.
  • Avoid using soaps, creams and sprays with artificial fragrance. They may tend to vaginal infection and end up causing vaginal infection.
  • Study reveals that having sex during menstrual cycle is actually ok, but there is a risk of contracting sexually transmitted disease. More over blood borne disease are easily transferred and females can also become pregnant during menstrual cycle. So it is advisable to always practice safe sex.
  • Keep regularly changing your pads or menstrual cups to avoid toxic shock syndrome. A cup should be changed every 12 hours and pad every 3 to 4 hours at minimum.
  • Avoid cleaning your vagina with water because it can disturb the normal microorganism of vagina leading to infections.