Menstrual cycle changes are body changes that accompany the changes in the circulating levels of female hormones in the blood during the menstrual cycle.
The single most remarkable change is the flow of menstrual blood, but that is just one of the many changes taking place.
In this article, I will review the different categories of changes that occur during the cycle and a brief discussion of the specific changes under each category.
The menstrual cycle changes you experience are the direct effects of the hormonal changes in your body. These changes are
These are the trigger changes. They cause the physical and psychological menstrual cycle changes. The two major hormones involved are estrogen and progesterone. The levels of these hormones change during the different phases of the cycle as shown in the diagram
Morphological refers to the outward changes in a woman's body and overall physical outlook. These are very important menstrual cycle changes because they may affect a sensitive aspect of a woman's life, her outlook. They are also part of the secondary sexual changes that occur as a girl enters puberty because they are all due to the action of female hormones. The most noticeable outlook changes are those of the skin, breast and body weight.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and is sensitive to estrogen and to some degree progesterone. The cyclical changes in these female hormones cause changes in the skin affecting many skin properties as outlined below
In summary, the luteal and menstrual phases are the phases during which the amount of estrogen is lowest and the skin is most susceptible to spots, acne, dryness and damage.
The breasts also undergo changes as part of the overall menstrual cycle changes occurring. During the follicular phase, estrogen causes the breast tissue to grow.
During the luteal phase, progesterone causes the breast tissue to swell as the milk glands increase in size within the breasts. Some women also experience slight pain in the breasts especially with touch
Mild fluctuations in body weight may occur as one of the menstrual cycle changes. It is mainly due to water retention. Changes in appetite and physical activity may also be contributory factors.
Estrogen suppresses the immune system. High levels of estrogen during the follicular and early luteal phases may produce mild reduction in the functioning of the immune system. These changes are very slight however during the menstrual cycle but are pronounced during pregnancy
Studies examining the hormonal changes did not find any conclusive pattern for the occurrence of allergies during the different cycle phases.
The changes in hormonal levels may produce some emotional and behavioral menstrual cycle changes in some women. Not every woman experiences these changes.
Some women experience an increase in their sexual desire especially during the ovulation period. Others have also reported being "flirty" during this period.Other women experience mild mood swings and irritability during the luteal phase.
Some research has found that women who experience headaches, gastrointestinal problems, lower abdominal bloating, skin changes, and breast changes as part of the physical menstrual cycle changes had a higher occurrence of psychological symptoms.
What should you do with the knowledge of the changes above? No major lifestyle changes are needed. You will definitely need to make some minor changes depending on the menstrual cycle changes you experience the most. Not every woman will experience these changes. The type and severity of the changes also vary widely amongst women. Some simple lifestyle changes to consider include
Good nutrition is never a bad habit. It always fits. Be sure to get a regular balanced diet which will furnish both the essential nutrients and also help control your weight. As for everyone, including fruits and vegetables in the diet will go a long way to maintain good health and a healthy skin.Though menstruation causes iron loss from the body, extra iron supplements are not necessary-just eat healthy and include foods also rich in green leafy vegetables!
Exercise may cause some relief if there are any menstrual discomfort especially menstrual cramps.
Good skin care
Women differ in the sensitivity of their skin to the different cycle changes. While some women notice little or no effects, others experience significant skin changes like severe acne breakouts or sunburns
Proper skin care to avoid irritants including some skin care products and unprotected exposure to sunlight during those sensitive days( especially the luteal phase) may be beneficial to you. Find out what skin problems you experience the most, and whether it is related to menses or not and then take the appropriate precautions to maintain a healthy skin. You may seek medical advice from your doctor I when necessary.
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