Sunday, December 5, 2021

Understanding you menstrual cycle

Females were definitely given a raw deal in the story of the Garden of Eden, just because they consumed the forbidden fruit.

The wrath that god unleashed on eve and the whole female bloodline was very cruel and eternally damning. The guys got it easy though. I men they just have to cultivate the land and work to sustain themselves. In any case, this has changed in the 21st century as nowadays it’s the women who work and sustain their families. Worse, apart from occasionally going through pregnancy and unbearably painful labour, every month women have to comprehend this nuisance called periods.

Somehow women on their periods are considered dirty. No one knows who came up with this irrational idea, but someone somewhere decided that periods are a monthly cleansing ritual, known as “go tlhatswa” in Setswana. In traditional Setswana culture after giving birth a woman is not allowed to eat with her bare hands until she finishes bleeding. It’s considered taboo because they are considered dirty and the reasoning is that they will be consuming their filth if they eat with bare hands. Some churches don’t allow women who are on their periods to attend service.

So, what really is this thing called menstruation? It’s a process that all women go through every month; they bleed. When you menstruate, your body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb).

Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina. Most menstrual periods last from 3 to 5 days. When periods (menstruations) come regularly, this is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep you healthy. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. A cycle is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens. The rise and fall in hormone levels during the month control the menstrual cycle. In the first half of the cycle, levels of oestrogen (the female hormone) start to rise. Oestrogen plays an important role in keeping you healthy, especially by building strong bones. Estrogens also make the lining of the uterus (womb) grow and thicken. This lining of the womb is a place that will nourish the embryo if a pregnancy occurs. While the lining of the womb is growing, an egg or ovum starts to mature in one of the ovaries. At about day 14 of an average 28-day cycle, the egg leaves the ovary. This is called ovulation.

After the egg has left the ovary, it travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Hormone levels rise and help prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. A woman is most likely to get pregnant during the three days before or on the day of ovulation. Keep in mind, women with cycles that are shorter or longer than average may ovulate before or after day 14. A woman becomes pregnant if the egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm cell and attaches to the uterine wall. If the egg is not fertilized it will break apart. Then hormone levels drop and the thickened lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual period. During your period, you shed the thickened uterine lining and extra blood through the vagina. Your period may not be the same every month. It may also be different than other women’s periods. Periods can be light, moderate, or heavy in terms of how much blood comes out of the vagina. This is called menstrual flow. The length of the period also varies. Most periods last from three to five days. But, anywhere from two to seven days is normal.

In both teens and women nearing menopause, hormonal changes can cause long periods along with irregular cycles. Even if the cause is hormonal changes, you may be able to get treatment. You should keep in mind that these changes can occur with other serious health problems, such as uterine fibroids, polyps, or even cancer. See your doctor if you have any abnormal bleeding. Technically a woman can only fall pregnant only three days during her cycle whilst the egg cell is still in the fallopian tubes. In most instances women suffer slight or drastic discomfort during their menstruation known as dysmenorrhea or period pains. Primary dysmenorrhea occurs in women who experience pain just before and during menstruation, but who are otherwise healthy.

Women who have had normal periods that later become painful may have secondary dysmenorrhea. This condition is usually accompanied by a problem affecting the uterus or other pelvic organs. All things constant, this cycle will occur every 28 days until menopause when the bleeding will stop. During and prior menstruation there are so many hormones being released into the body, which makes the women emotional, crying at the slightest provocation and having nasty mood swings. It varies from woman to woman and so does the intensity.
Sources: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications

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