Knowing the features of normal menstruation will enable you to better understand your body and identify abnormalities.
I would review in this article the minimum facts I believe every woman
should know about the menstrual flow during the normal menstrual cycle.
What Is Menstruation?
Menstruation is the shedding of the inner layer of the uterus called the endometrium
through the cervix into the vagina. It is one of the phases of the
menstrual cycle and the most noticeable one for obvious reasons!
menstrual cycle essentially prepares a woman’s body for a possible
pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium which has been
build up in preparation then breaks down and appears as menses.
Menstrual flow is therefore some sort of uterine tears shed for not conceiving the pregnancy it was preparing for!
Menstruation and The Menstrual Cycle
Menstruation is not the same as the menstrual cycle. The menstrual
cycle describes the cyclic changes in a woman’s body going through
menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, the luteal phase and
back to menstruation again to begin the cycle. Menstruation is therefore
one of the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle.
or menses distinguishes humans from some mammals that have reproductive
cycles but do not menstruate. The shed endometrium in these mammals
does not flow out but is reabsorbed. Such cycles are not menstrous in nature and are called estrous cycles.
Menses, Periods and the “Moon”
What processes lead to menstrual flow during normal menstruation? The actors behind the screen in a woman’s body responsible for menstrual flow are the female hormones called progesterone and estrogen.
the levels of progesterone and estrogen drop suddenly at the end of the
luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, the endometrium no longer receives
the support from these hormones and therefore begins to break down.
chemicals like prostaglandins are released as the endometrium breaks
down which cause a mild contraction of the uterus gently pushing out
Characteristics Of Normal Menstruation
Normal menstruation has specific features. These characteristics
include the duration of menstrual flow, quality of the menstruum,
amount of blood loss, the flow pattern and associated symptoms.
- The duration of menstrual flow.Normal
menstruation usually last from 3 to 7 days. The exact duration varies
from woman to woman. It however shows little or no variation for the
same woman from cycle to cycle. Most women do not experience cycle to
cycle changes more than 1 or 2 days. It is unusual for the same woman
to have wide swings such as 3 days duration in one cycle and 7 days in
- The amount of blood loss.The
average blood loss during normal menstruation is about 35 ml, with a
range of 10 to 80 ml. Yes, but who measures her menses inml?.
Most women develop a sense of what is normal for them by the number of
pads they use and how soaked those pads become with blood.You are different and therefore should learn what is normal for your body and not that of a friend, relative or webmaster.
- The quality of the menstrual blood.
Menstrual blood is normally bright or light red in color like the
bleeding that occurs after a knife cut or similar injury. If you have
never been injured, that is still fine! It could look brown in some few
women and still be normal menstruation. It must not have a foul odor.
Small clots may be a normal part of menstrual blood.
- The flow pattern.Normally,
as menses begin to flow, the amount of blood loss seems to increase
gradually until it attains a maximum and then starts diminishing as the
end of the flow draws near. This pattern is described as
- Associated symptoms.Normal
menstruation may be accompanied by other symptoms such as breasts
fullness, mild lower abdominal pain or irritability. These symptoms are
never debilitating. Severe symptoms may indicate abnormalities such as
menstrual cramps or the premenstrual syndrome.
Sex and Menstruation
A 2009 survey of women published in the Journal of Sex Research
found that women have different experiences and attitudes towards
having sex during their periods. Generally, women have different
perceptions of sex during menstruation for cultural, religious or even
The most significant medical concern for sex
during menstruation is the increased risk of contracting Sexually
Transmissible Infections( STI) during the period of menstruation.
There are two main reasons why you should pay attention to personal hygiene during menstruation
- Taking care of menstrual flowThis is often the obvious reason. It may really get messy
if not properly cared for. Blood can easily develop a foul stench. Many
products are now available for menstrual care. They are either
disposable or reusable. These include menstrual pads, tampons, menstrual
cups, sea sponges and cloth menstrual pads. You can read more on the
- Risk of infectionIt
is not obvious to many women, that there is a slightly higher risk of
contracting infections during and immediately after menstrual flow.
Furthermore, the placement of any foreign object like the menstrual
products into the vagina is another risk factor for infection if not
properly utilized. Proper attention should therefore be given to
personal hygiene during this period of the menstrual cycle.
Further Resources and references
- The American College of Obstetrics an Gynecology.Information for patients
Allen KR. Goldberg AE. Sexual activity during menstruation: a
qualitative study. Journal of Sex Research. 46(6):535-45, 2009 Nov-Dec.
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