Menstruation cycles and their role in pregnancy and women health issues

Menstruation cycle or monthly periods are the release of blood from a woman’s uterus (womb) through her vagina. Monthly periods in women may start at any age from 12 to 15 years, about a couple of years later when her breasts begin to develop. A girl should see a doctor if she starts having her periods before the age of 08 years, or if she doesn’t get her first period by the age of 15.

A girl may start getting watery vaginal discharge about 06 months to a year prior to the start of her periods. Menstruation cycle happens due to changes in hormones. The ovaries in the reproductive system start releasing female hormones estrogen and progesterone that cause the lining of the uterus to thicken. The built-up lining is ready for a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilization, the lining breaks down and bleeds, resulting in periods.

Periods may last from four days to a week, and a menstruation cycle usually lasts between 24 to 38 days, when the cycles start again. The menstruation cycle is counted from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. If you do not have periods for 90 days and you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, you should see your gynecologist.

Menstruation cycle has below four phases:

The menses phase: This phase lasts from day one to day five, when the lining of the uterus is shed through the vagina when there is no fertilization. Most women will bleed from three to five days during this period.

The follicular phase: This phase typically lasts from 6th to 14th day of the menstruation cycle. The level of estrogen hormone rises which causes the lining of the uterus to grow and thicken. Follicle hormone also causes follicles in the ovaries to grow. During this period, one of the developing follicles with form fully mature egg or ovum.

Ovulation: This phase runs from the day 14 to day 28 of the menstruation cycle. There is sudden increase in the level of luteinizing hormone that causes ovaries to release the egg. This event is known as ovulation.

Luteal phase: This phase lasts from day 15 to day 28. After its release, the egg begins to travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus. The level of progesterone hormone rises that helps in preparing the uterine lining for a pregnancy. If pregnancy occurs (the egg is fertilized by sperm), the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall and you become pregnant. If there is no pregnancy, the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones begin to drop and the thickened uterus lining is shed through the vagina that appears like dirty, thick blood.

Some of the common menstruation problems include:

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): Hormonal events before a period can trigger some issues such as headache, fatigue and retention of fluid. Exercise and dietary changes may help.

Dysmenorrhea: It results in painful periods. The uterus is squeezed harder than necessary to dislodge its lining. Treatment options include pain-relieving medications and contraceptive pills.

Heavy menstruation bleeding: Also sometimes called menorrhagia, this condition can result in anemia due to excessive loss of blood, and hence hemoglobin. Treatment options include the use of intrauterine device (IUD) and contraceptives.

Amenorrhea: This is the absence of menstruation cycles. Absence of menstruation is normal during pregnancy, lactation period and postmenopause, but if it occurs during a woman’s fertilizing years (typically from 12 years to 50 years) it is an abnormal condition. Possible causes include high body weight and excessive exercises.

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