My body, my period – From Menstrual Cycle to Menopause.

Throughout history, talk about women’s periods has been the subject of stories, prejudices that it is urgent to deconstruct.

Ever needed to talk to someone about periods but didn’t really know how? Now’s the time…

How long should a normal period be?

A 2004 study, published in the scientific journal Contraception, which analyzed the menstrual regularity patterns of 130 women between the ages of 18 and 40 for 30 weeks, confirmed that only between 10% and 15% of them had a cycle of 28 exact days. However, in most cases -46%-, the menstrual cycles did not have a regular periodicity and varied up to seven days between one period and another.

Phases of the menstrual cycle:

The four main phases of the menstrual cycle are:

  • menstruation
  • the follicular phase
  • ovulation
  • the luteal phase.
alt= Woman, Menstural Cycle Infographic Illustation, period.

Normally, you ovulate in the middle of your menstrual cycle. If the egg your ovaries release isn’t fertilized, your hormone levels drop, causing you to shed the lining inside your uterus, and you get your period.

A menstrual cycle begins with the first day of the period and ends with the beginning of the next period. A full menstrual cycle usually lasts between 24 and 38 days but the length can vary from cycle to cycle and can also change over the years. Since everyone’s periods are different accordind to (Department of Medicine Queen’s University)

Does having your period hurt?

Beside the bleeding, some girls and women get cramps or other symptoms during their periods that may be uncomfortable. This is typically due to the hormones your body releases during menstruation that cause the uterus to contract so it can shed it’s lining. Other signs and symptoms of menstruation may include headache, acne, bloating, pains in the low abdomen, tiredness, mood changes, food cravings, breast soreness.

Can I get pregnant during my period.?

It’s time to squash that age-old myth: Your period doesn’t protect you from pregnancy. There are a couple of reasons why. First, some women may bleed when their ovaries release an egg each month, called ovulation, and mistake it for their period. You’re at your peak fertility when you ovulate. So if you have sex during this time, it could actually make you more likely to get pregnant.

Second, you may ovulate before your period is over or within a few days after the bleeding stops. Since sperm can hang out in your body for up to 3 days, having sex during your period could lead to conception.

If pregnancy does not occur, the corpus luteum withers and dies, usually around day 22 in a 28-day cycle. The drop in progesterone levels causes the lining of the uterus to fall away. This is known as menstruation. The cycle then repeats.

Tampons and pads aren’t your only choices.

You have more options to help you manage that time of the month. A menstrual cup is a flexible cup that fits inside your vagina and collects blood during your period. Period panties are super-absorbent, and you can wear them on their own on your lighter days or with a tampon during heavier times. Reusable cloth pads can be washed and worn again.

These products can be cost-savers, since you can reuse them, and they also create less waste. In some cases, they give you more time between changes. For example, you need to change a tampon every 4 to 8 hours, but you may be able to go up to 12 hours with a menstrual cup before you empty it.

There are pros and cons to all these options, just as there are with tampons and pads. But you can find one that works best for you with some trial and error.

Perimenopause.

Hormone changes that happen during perimenopause (Perimenopause varies greatly from one woman to the next according to Harvard Medical School).

The years before menopause when your body starts to make less estrogen can throw you for a loop. The time from one period to the next may get shorter or longer, and you may have heavier or lighter bleeding during your period. This phase can last up to 10 years before you start menopause and stop getting your period for good.

Gradual life changes are normal, but sudden, unusual issues like very heavy bleeding or missed periods are not. Talk with your doctor if you notice that something seems off.

Menopause.

Going through menopause is a very unique and varied experience, just like the struggles of fertility, pregnancy, and menstruation.

Menopause is a point in time when a person has gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, is a natural part of aging and marks the end of your reproductive years. On average, menopause happens at age 51.

Many women report no physical changes during perimenopause except irregular menstrual periods that stop when menopause is reached. Other women experience symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats (heavy sweating from hot flashes at night, often disturbing sleep), and thinning and drying of vaginal tissue that can make sex painful.

This is how Michelle Obama opened up to People about her menopause experience.

Find out more inspiration:

Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui talked about getting her period at the world’s most prestigious sporting event. Read more about how strength training affects the menstrual cycle.

Kiran Gandhi ran the London Marathon while free bleeding to highlight how people are shamed for having periods.

Rupi Kaur posted a photo of her bleeding through her pants and onto her bed—and Instagram deleted it twice.

• Stacy London is the CEO of State of Menopause.

• Kamili Wilson, is the founder of Menopause Made Modern, a content plataform for people of color.

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