What is Menstruation
Menstruation is the Monthly discharge of female caused by shedding of uterine tissue, blood and mucous tissue from the uterine walls. It occurs when an ovum is not fertilized by a sperm cell of male. This menstruation occurs once in every month as a cycle where, the reproductive organ of female, ovary releases ovum which is said to be ovulation. Generally menstruation starts for a girl at the age of puberty i.e., 8-13 years and the first menstrual cycle is known as Menarche. The age at which menstrual cycle stops is nearly 50 years and called as Menopause.
How does it occurs
The reproductive system of female consists of Ovaries which synthesize and releases ovum by ovulation. The released ovum travels through the Fallopian tube to reach uterus. Meanwhile if the sperm of male entered through vagina of female reaches ovum through Fallopian tube, fertilization occurs where two haploid cells ovum(n) and sperm(n) fuse together forming a diploid embryo(2n). The formed embryo now reaches uterus and gets attached to the uterine endometrium (inner layer) which is called implantation, later develops into fetus with the help of hormones. If the sperm cell have not reaches the ovum, fertilization does not occur and thereby starts the menstrual cycle.
Role of hormones
Hypothalamus region of brain consists of pituitary gland. It secretes Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRh) which synthesize and secretes Follicle Stimulating hormone (FSH) and Leutinizing hormone. FSH is involved in the stimulation of growth of follicles in ovaries. LH plays an important role in the release of ovum by ovulation and formation of corpus luteum. The other hormones secreted by ovaries are Estrogen and Progesterone. Estrogen produces secondary sexual characteristics like development of breasts, endometrium thickening, regulation of menstrual cycle etc., whereas Progesterone thickens the uterine endometrium and maintains uterus during pregnancy. If ovulation (release of ovum from follicle) is followed by fertilization (fusion of sperm with ovum) then Pregnancy occurs. If ovulation is not followed by fertilization, Menstruation occurs.
What happens during Menstruation
It is a cycle of 28 days with 4 phases.
1. Menstrual Phase – It occurs for the first 3-5 days of 28 day cycle. The thickened endometrial wall containing blood and tissues will breakdown and shed off from the uterus along with the unfertilized ovum. This is said to be the menstrual flow and this is initiated by reduced secretion of Leutinizing hormone of pituitary and also by estrogen and progesterone.
2. Follicular Phase – It occurs from 6-13th day of the cycle. Follicle stimulating hormone of pituitary secretes Estrogens. These Estrogens stimulates the proliferation of uterus by rapid cell division and increased blood vessels. As a result the uterine endometrium gets thickened .
3. Ovulatory Phase – It occurs on 14 th day of cycle. Leutinizing and Follicle stimulating hormones of pituitary reaches the highest level at this ovulatory phase. Rapid secretion of hormones induces the rupture of graffian follicle and release of ovum causing ovulation.
4. Secretory/ Luteal Phase – It occurs from 15-28 days of the menstrual cycle. After ovulation, the remaining cells of graffian follicle will get degenerated and converted to corpus luteum. This secretes a large amount of progesterone which maintains the endometrium thick, to favour the implantation of embryo (if fertilized) during pregnancy. If the fertilization has not occur, the hormone levels will be decreased, disintegration of endometrium occurs leading to the onset of another menstrual cycle.
- Hormonal imbalance
- Obesity (excess fat)
- Use of contraceptives
- Medical conditions
- Fibroids (tumors)
- Heavy Excercise
- Drinking Excess Alcohol
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Improper hygiene
Problems associated with periods
- Muscle and Hip pain
- Stomach pain
- Back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive or prolonged bleeding which indicate Fibroids, tumors production
- Irregular menstrual cycle indicates Hormonal imbalance like hypothyroid, diabetes etc.,
- Lighter flow indicates stress
- Unbearable period cramps may indicate Endometriosis, inner tissue layer grows out of uterus
- Amenorrhoea, absence of menstrual cycles
- Menorrhagia, Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Dysmenorrhoea, painful periods or menstrual cramps
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, growth of many cysts in the ovaries
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Physical pelvic examination
- Ultrasound for Uterus
- Blood tests
- Endometrial Biopsy
- A Pap smear
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
- Pain killers are prescribed to relief from pain.
- Hormonal birth control pills
- Apply heat with heating pads
- Papaya is rich in vitamin-A and C and has anti-inflammatory property.
- Calcium rich foods
- Jaggery rich in Iron
- Turmeric has antibacterial property
- Sesame seeds
- Lemon and Honey
- Maintain proper personal hygiene
Women’s health decides the happiness in a family. As menstruation is a biological cycle inside the body that occurs every month right from the puberty to menopause, Proper care has to be taken. Iron, calcium and vitamin rich supplements has to be taken with proper exercise and staying happy without any stress are the only secrets to face these menstrual days. Stay healthy, hygiene and be happy.