The menstruation cycle is a regular cycle that a woman’s body experiences in order to prepare the body for pregnancy. Most women have about 11 to 13 menstruation cycles each year, which usually averages out to about one menstruation cycle per month.
The Menstruation Cycle in Women
During the menstruation cycle, a woman’s body sheds the lining of the uterus called the endometrium, which is grown in order to prepare for a fertilized egg. This is called the menstrual period, or more commonly just a period. This bleeding will last from the early teen years – sometimes as early as 8 or 9 years old – until the woman experiences menopause, usually around the age of 50.
The menstruation cycle lasts from the first day of bleeding until the first day of the next cycle of bleeding. The average menstruation cycle lasts about 28 days, or a month, however it is completely normal for women to experience cycles that are shorter or longer than 28 days.
Menstruation cycles are controlled by a woman’s hormones. Each cycle is the result of the brain sending hormone signals to the ovaries and uterus, telling them to prepare for a pregnancy.
Two particular hormones, estrogen and progesterone, have the biggest role in the changes the uterus experiences during each cycle.
Estrogen causes the uterus to build up its lining called the endometrium. Progesterone in the body increases when the ovary releases an egg during ovulation, which is experienced during the middle of a menstruation cycle. Increased levels of progesterone keep the lining of the uterus thick and prepared for pregnancy.
When the egg is not fertilized, this causes a big drop in levels of progesterone and estrogen, which then causes the lining in the uterus to break down–which begins the menstrual period.
Women usually begin their cycle around the ages of 11 and 14, although in recent years this age has begun to lower. The menstruation cycle is usually irregular for the first few years, but will often even-out by the time a woman is in her 20s.
Women usually begin to experience less frequent menstrual periods during their menstruation cycle by the time they are in their 40s, and will usually go through menopause when they reach the age of 50.
Menstrual bleeding is generally the only time during a menstruation cycle that women need to use special products to handle symptoms caused by the cycle. In particular, the menstrual bleeding. Most women use products like pads, tampons, or menstrual cups to soak up and contain menstrual blood.
These products should be changed regularly to avoid bacterial growth and possible infection.
Pain During a Menstruation Cycle
Women may experience pain and discomfort during various stages of their menstrual cycle, particularly the menstrual period. The menstrual period can be accompanied by cramping, which may be mild or moderate but can also become severe. Women experiencing a menstrual period may also suffer from general soreness, backaches, headaches, a sensitivity to hot/cold foods or to light and nausea or dizziness.
Not every woman experiences all of these symptoms or any of these symptoms during their menstrual cycle, but they are not uncommon. Most symptoms can be relieved through rest and relaxation, although there are a variety of home medical treatments the market which can relieve menstrual cramping, such as over-the-counter medications or heating pads.
Heat can be used to relieve menstrual cramps in other ways, such as taking hot baths or visiting steam rooms. Generally, most women’s symptoms can be lessened through at home remedies, although more severe pain may need to be managed by a physician if it is causing an inability to function and perform daily tasks.
Symptoms Before Your Menstrual Period
Some women also experience symptoms before their menstrual period, which are called premenstrual symptoms. These symptoms indicate that a menstrual period is approaching, usually in about 5 to 7 days. These symptoms include tenderness in the breasts, acne, leg and back cramps, an increase in water weight and bloating, a decrease in energy and even the feeling of being angry, tense, or unusually impatient.
These symptoms can range from mild to more severe. Emotional symptoms, such as feeling angry or upset, are common and often continue throughout the menstrual period. These symptoms can be caused by an increase or decrease in hormones in the body or as a result of a poor mood due to the general low feeling caused by periods.
Pain may also be experienced during the middle of the menstruation cycle when the ovary releases an egg. This usually passes within a day or two.
The menstruation cycle is also different in every woman, which can cause irregular or frequently changing lengths and intensities of menstrual periods. This is especially true in the first few years after a girl begins to experience the menstrual cycle.
For example, a woman might experience 5 days of menstrual bleeding one month, only three days of menstrual bleeding the next month, and 9 days of menstrual bleeding the next. This can be caused by hormonal imbalances or even simple stress.
Irregular or inconsistent menstrual cycle or periods are not always a sign for concern, but if they are accompanied by unusual pain, discharge or anything particularly worrisome, a physician should be contacted.