What is Menstruation? A Women Health Clinic Guide
Periods. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing!
At least that’s how many women feel about menstruation. Menstruation can be a downright downer. If you’ve somehow managed to make it through with even the mildest menstrual symptoms, you’re still probably dealing with cramping, bloating, bleeding, and ruined underwear.
A survey report by a renowned Women’s Health Clinic revealed that menstruation is uniquely mammalian and even within the class, only 10 species of primates, 4 species of bats, 1 species of spiny mouse, and the Elephant Shrew menstruate.
It is said that most other mammals go through estrous, in which the uterine lining is reabsorbed rather than shed.
Even more unique is that you’re a human, reading this, and you menstruate or know someone who does, and one thing that sets you apart from your mutually menstruating mammal friends is that you can comprehend the natural and necessary process of periods.
Once a woman reaches puberty, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, she’ll start menstruating.
How Menstruation Cycle Works?
Menstruation is also referred to as a period, a visit from Aunt Flow, monthlies, menses, and “the curse”, among other things. It’s generally characterized by bleeding from the vaginal opening. It’s not all blood though, it’s also mucosal tissue.
Specifically, it’s the unused endometrial lining, the endometrium, of the uterus. The uterus is a pear-shaped reproductive organ in the lower abdomen of women. It’s located above the vagina and is connected to the ovaries via fallopian tubes. The ovaries are two glands that produce va (eggs), each located on either side of the uterus. They’re also responsible for the production of the hormones, progesterone, and estrogen.
Duration Of Menstruation Cycle
Menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman but on average last 28 days. While menstruation itself lasts anywhere from 1-7 days. The rise and fall of hormones dictate the menstrual cycle. There are two major phases of the cycle, each lasting about 14 days: the follicular phase, and the luteal phase.
During the follicular phase, which begins on the first day of menstruation, the follicle-stimulating hormone starts the process of ova development. This means that even while you’re cursing a leaky pad to the depths of a bathroom trash can, your ovaries already have next month’s menses in mind.
An ovum will develop in one of the two ovaries, and estrogen cues the endometrial lining of the uterus to thicken and become enriched with blood. After approximately two weeks of uterus preparation and ovum development, ovulation occurs.
Ovulation is when the ovum travels from the ovary, where it was developed, into the fallopian tube, and comes to rest in a portion of the tube called the ampullary-isthmic junction. Here the ovum awaits fertilization via insemination; the introduction of semen into a woman’s uterus by way of the vagina.
Ovulation signals the end of the follicular phase and beginning of the luteal phase. While the ovum awaits fertilization, it’s sustained by the supply of blood to the uterus. Meanwhile, the ovary that sent the ovum, also sends a care package in the form of progesterone.
Hormone That Is Responsible For Menstruation
This hormone is produced from the same follicle where the ovum developed by a temporary structure called the corpus luteum. Progesterone signals the endometrial lining to stop thickening and is also necessary for embryonic development.
The ovaries ensure that the uterus is bathed in it during the beginning of the luteal phase in the off chance fertilization. The ovum will descend into the uterus and, if fertilized, will implant itself into the thickened endometrium.
However, more often than not, the ovum is not fertilized and around day 21 of your cycle, that same progesterone will peak then begin to drop off. This kicks off the process of menstruation. The endometrial tissue breaks down and the cramping begins.
Cramping aids the uterus in detaching the tissues which, along with the accompanying blood, flow out of the vagina and ruin your favorite pair of khakis. Menstruation signals the end of the luteal phase and ushers in the follicular phase once again.
An ovum begins development when your period begins and in true, out with the old, in with the new, fashion, the endometrium starts to thicken as soon as you trashed your last tampon.
Average Volume of Menstrual Fluid
The average volume of menstrual fluid discharged is between 2.5 to 4.5 tablespoons. That’s approximately ¼ cups of panty wasting period blood. 54% of women surveyed in a pool of 36,000 say they’ve ruined every pair of underwear they own thanks to Aunt Flow and her hygiene hijinks.
You can fight her though, menstrual management comes in many forms and each woman finds her own preferred method.
Disposable pads and tampons are the most common but menstrual cups and reusable pads are making a strong comeback in today’s more eco-conscious environment. No matter what you choose to use, know that even if you picked the wrong sanitary napkin this month, the menstrual cycle will give you another crack at it next month, and the next month, and probably the next month, because it’s a cycle that lasts from puberty to menopause.
If you have questions or concerns about your period, you should talk to your healthcare provider. Her Smart Choice is a reputed women health clinic and offers free, comfortable and confidential consultations. Our doctors are experts on women’s healthcare and are here to provide you with the best clinical care options that suit your needs.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out and make an appointment or call our 24/7 answering service. Your peace of mind is important to us.