Thursday, 4 July 2013


The process by which a woman’s body gets ready for the chance of a pregnancy every month is known as menstrual cycle. Every month the body prepares itself for a potential pregnancy. However, if this pregnancy fails to occur, the inner lining of the uterus shreds down. This shedding down of the inner lining is known as menstruation. The menstrual blood comprises partly of blood and partly the tissue from inside the uterus. The menstrual blood passes out of the body through the vagina.
The fertile period in a woman starts at the menarche (first menstrual period), which usually occurs around the age of 12 and ends with the menopause, which occurs around the age of 51. The fertile period is divided in cycles of 28 to 35 days in length. These cycles are separated by menstruation and are known as menstrual cycle.

What Happens During the Menstrual Cycle?
During the first half of the menstrual cycle, the level of female hormone or estrogen increases. The increased level of estrogen makes the inner lining of the uterus thicker and stronger. Through this process the body readies the uterus to bear the embryo if pregnancy occurs. During this period, the egg or ovum starts to mature. Around the 14th day of the average 28 day cycle, ovulation occurs and the egg leaves the ovary. A woman has more chances of getting pregnant during the three days before as well as on the day of ovulation.
After leaving the ovary, the egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. The woman becomes pregnant if this egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm cell. Under such circumstances, the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. In case, if the egg is not fertilized it breaks down. Thereafter, the hormone level drop and the thickened lining of the uterus sheds down resulting in menstruation flow.  
The menstrual cycle can be divided into two parts, namely, the ovarian cycle and the uterine cycle.
Ovarian Cycle
The period during which the changes in the ovaries occur is known as ovarian cycle. This cycle is again divided into two parts, namely, Phase 1 and Phase 2.

Phase 1 starts from the first day of the menstruation and last till ovulation which marks the release of a matured egg from the ovary. This phase is also known as the follicular phase as the egg matures within the follicle. Ovulation occurs roughly on the 14th day of the menstruation cycle due to the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH). The first stage usually lasts for 14 days but may vary from person to person lasting anywhere from seven days to 40 days.

Phase 2 starts with the release of the egg till the first day of the next menstruation cycle. This phase is also known as luteal phase and it last for 12 to 16 days.
Uterine Cycle
The uterine cycle occurs simultaneously with the ovarian cycle. It signifies the changes that involve the uterus. This phase is again divided into two phases:
The proliferative phase is the time after menstruation and before the next ovulation. During this time the inner lining of the uterus thickens rapidly and the uterine glands multiply and grow.
The secretory phase is the time after ovulation. In case if the egg is not fertilized the levels of estrogen and progesterone (hormone) drop significantly. Thereafter, the thickened uterine lining is shed. This shedding of the uterine lining is known as menses or period.

Irregular menstrual cycle
At times women may not get periods, get periods too often, have unpredictable menstrual bleeding, or have painful periods. Such problems in the menstrual cycle are referred to as menstrual irregularities or menstrual problems.
When pregnancy is not the cause of such irregularities, it indicates the presence of a larger condition or problem.   
The several types of menstrual cycle problems are listed below:

Amenorrhea is a condition during which a woman does not get her period by the age of 16, or she stops getting her period for at least three months and is not pregnant.

Amenorrhea itself is not a disease but a symptom of another condition. The different causes of amenorrhea are moderate or excessive exercising, eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, physical or psychological stress, tumors, and hormonal problems. Amenorrhea also occurs in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The treatment of amenorrhea depends on the underlying cause. Sometimes lifestyle changes can help in treating amenorrhea caused by weight, stress, or extreme physical activity. Sometimes, medications as well as oral contraceptives are used for the treatment of amenorrhea.
Oligomenorrhea is a condition during which a woman gets infrequent and irregular menstrual periods. Oligomenorrhea itself is not a disease, but a symptom of a larger condition. Sometimes polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes oligomenorrhea.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)
POF is a condition during which the normal functioning of the ovaries stops in a woman younger than the age of 40. Women suffering from POF may not have periods or may get them irregularly. However, there is no guaranteed treatment for this condition. At times, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) or administration of other hormones can help women have regular periods and lower their risk for osteoporosis.

Uterine fibroids are the most common, non-cancerous tumours in women. It occurs mainly during the child bearing age. The presence of fibroids does not affect fertility and most women with uterine fibroids may get pregnant when desired. However, in some cases, the presence of uterine fibroids may prevent a woman from becoming pregnant naturally.

This situation seldom manifests any symptoms and seldom requires any treatment. However, some women with fibroids have heavy menstrual periods. They may even bleed in between periods.    Medications are usually used to provide relief from many of the symptoms of fibroids like pain. At times the medications are also effective at slowing or stopping the growth of the fibroids. 
When to consult a health care provider
  • If menstruation does not start by the age of 15.
  • If menstruation does not start within 3 years of breast development or if breast development does not start by the age of 13.
  • If period suddenly stops for more than 90 days.
  • If periods become very irregular after having had regular, monthly cycles.
  • If period occurs more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days.
  • If it bleeds for more than 7 days.
  • If bleeding is very heavy.
  • If bleeding occurs between periods.
  • Occurrence of severe pain during periods.
  • Onset of fever after using tampons.

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1 comment:

  1. While irregular periods are one of the first signs that menopause is approaching, many women are caught off guard by this symptom. A woman who has had a menstrual cycle like clockwork for her whole life may suddenly find herself with erratic and irregular periods. Another woman may find that her once impulsive cycles become regular.evecare