My Body

MY BODY CHANGES: THE PERIOD AND MENSTRUAL CYCLE

What is the rule, period or menstruation?

It is the cyclical bleeding that flows through the vagina from the uterus, produced by hormonal changes when the woman reaches sexual maturity.

At what age does it appear?

Most women have their first period between the ages of 10 and 16. The first period, called menarche, appears between 18 months and two years after the breasts develop. A few months before, a transparent mucus is usually expelled from the vagina.

What is the menstrual cycle?

It is the time between the first day of the rule and the day before the next. It usually lasts between 21 and 45 days.

The duration of the period varies from one girl to another, even within the same person. It generally lasts from 2 to 7 days. This is due to the influence of seasonal, emotional, travel and other factors.

What happens inside me during the menstrual cycle?

With sexual maturity, the sex hormones stimulate the ovaries that release an egg once a month. It’s ovulation. Sometimes it causes a slight pain in the lower abdomen and a slight bleeding a day or two after ovulation.

The expelled egg goes to the uterus through the tubes, and if it is fertilized by a sperm, it sticks to the wall of the uterus, which has thickened and is ready to have a baby.

If it is not fertilized, the uterus sheds the lining of its interior and expels it through the vagina through menstruation. (Figure 1)

Figure 1. Phases of the menstrual cycle. Taken from Erwin J. Haeberle. Copyright 2003 All rights reserved. Center for the Improvement of Human Sexuality, Coral Springs, FL, USAbody changes during menstruation1. Preparation for ovulation. The endometrium begins to grow after menstruation.

2. Preparation for implantation. The endometrium is preparing for the implantation of a fertilized egg.

3. Menstruation. If implantation does not occur, the endometrium sheds and is expelled through menstruation.

In the figure : A. Endometrium B. Cervical mucus plug C. Detachment of the endometrium and its expulsion D. Unplugged area

This happens almost every month until menopause arrives. If the egg is fertilized, the woman would be pregnant and, therefore, would not have her period.

Why are my menstrual cycles irregular?

The organism takes time to mature, so there are cycles in which no egg is released. This gives rise to irregularity in menstrual intervals (from 15 days to several months), few or very abundant periods and that the days of bleeding do not always last the same. It is normal in the first two years after menarche. But many women continue to have irregular periods well into adulthood.

What is premenstrual syndrome?

They are the physical and emotional changes before the rule. You may have a headache, breast tenderness, swelling, acne , sadness, tiredness, crying, trouble sleeping, muscle or joint pain, stomach problems, constipation, or diarrhea.

What to do with painful periods ?

Although menstruation is natural, it can hurt. The pain is relieved with heat in the abdomen, massage or analgesics such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen .

Is there anything you can’t do when you have your period?

You can do everything the same as before, even have sex. But you have to increase hygiene .

Is it possible to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex during your period?

Yes, although it is not usual

And before having the first rule?

Also, because an ovulation has occurred before.

For this reason, it is important that you ALWAYS protect yourself to avoid pregnancy, with a condom or another method . With the condom , you will also protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections .

Pads, tampons and daily protectors.

When you have your period, you need something to absorb the blood, like a pad, tampon, or vaginal cup (Figure 2). Tampons and cups are placed inside the vagina. They can be put from the first rules, if they are small. It is better to read the instructions before putting it on. They are useful if you play sports.

Figure 2. Methods of menstrual protection body changes during menstruationYou should wash your hands well before inserting or removing a tampon. Change pads and tampons every 3-4 hours, even if there isn’t much flow. This prevents the accumulation of bacteria and odour.

Under what circumstances should you see a doctor?

  • If your period lasts more than a week

  • If you have to change your pad or tampon a lot (every 1-2 hours)

  • If more than 3 months pass between one period and another

  • If you bleed between periods

  • You are 16 years old and you have not had your first period

  • If it hurts a lot before or during your period

  • If your rules were regular and they are not anymore

  • If you have itching, foul-smelling discharge or redness in the genital area

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