Back to Basics: What’s Really Going On During Your Period

Nobody wants to talk about it but with half of the human race experiencing it or have experience with it, it’s time to tell the world that periods are normal and a part of every woman’s life.

However, normal does not mean mysterious. Almost all ladies are not really 100% sure about what’s happening to their bodies leading to menstruation. Many of us also have lots of unanswered questions especially when it comes to period cramps.

So let’s talk about our periods on this blog and let’s get some basic information and understanding so that we can make better decisions regarding our bodies.

The Menstrual Cycle: A Monthly Marvel

Your period is part of the menstrual cycle. The whole cycle is around 28 days but varies from woman to woman. It starts on the first day of your period and ends on the last day of bleeding.

On the first day of your period, your uterus is shining its lining called the endometrium because fertilization did not occur during the previous cycle. As the cycle slows down, your body will once again prepare for the next chance of pregnancy. It will produce hormones to stimulate the release of an egg and prepare for ovulation.

Ovulation: The Golden Opportunity

Ovulation usually occurs during the middle of the cycle. During this phase, a mature egg emerges from the ovary and begins its journey down the fallopian tube. Ovulation is called the golden opportunity for fertilization because the egg can only survive for around 24 hours.

During this time, women experience changes in their bodies. Some feel tenderness in their breasts, others will notice more frequent skin breakouts and there will be others who do not feel symptoms at all.

The Hormonal Roller Coaster: PMS

Changes in the body during this period are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This happens because your body is preparing for a possible pregnancy. Estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall, affecting your mood, energy levels, and physical well-being.

Common  PMS symptoms include bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, mood swings, and food cravings. It’s important to remember that PMS is a normal part of the menstrual cycle, and taking care of yourself during this time is important.

Eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, and try relaxation techniques to help ease PMS. Avoid consuming fat, sugar, salt and caffeine. Foods rich in these substances contribute to bloating and pain.

The Main Event: Your Period

After 28 days or so, it’s here again – your period. After ovulation and the egg is not fertilized, hormone levels drop and the lining of your uterus begins to shed. This is what we see and experience as menstrual bleeding.

Just like PMS and menstrual cycle length, how long a period lasts also depends from woman to woman. Some women only have short periods, lasting 2-3 days while others have it for around a week.

During the actual period, many women experience menstrual cramps. This is caused by the uterus contracting in order to shed its lining. The severity of cramps also differ from woman to woman with some lucky ones experiencing none at all. However, there are those that have severe pain which is why many women are constantly on the lookout for period pain relief.

Some women opt to go for relaxing massages while others prefer a hot water bottle for their lower abdomen and there are those that depend on OTC pain relief meds or a combination of natural and scientific methods to cope with the pain.

Others prefer to use a TENS machine. This device is like your personal physiotherapist. It uses electrical currents to reduce pain. It is particularly effective against ovulation pain and menstrual cramps. It is so effective, some women use it during labor.

Pads, Cups and Tampons: The Choice Is Yours

Before the invention of the sanitary pad, periods were messy. During some point in history, women ignored their periods and allowed blood to flow freely from their bodies. During this time, most people had hydrophobia and viewed water as dangerous, so you can probably imagine how unsanitary menstruation was.

Some women used rags and small pieces of cloth to help mitigate the flow. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century when commercial pads were available for women. Dubbed as “sanitary towels for ladies”, these early pads were available only for the elite.Fortunately, sanitary pads evolved rapidly after World War II. Pads used to be as thick as diapers and had to be secured with a belt. Manufacturers were able to develop more absorbent materials and designed pads that were more comfortable and odorless.

Nowadays, women generally have 3 choices when it comes to stemming the flow of blood. We have the traditional but modern sanitary pads, the tampon and the cup. Women can now choose which option is most comfortable for them to use.

Bottom Line

It is important to understand why female bodies go through menstruation. Learning about how our body works can help us make better decisions in terms of our personal health and future reproductive roles. Keep in mind that menstruation is closely related to our abilities to conceive and carry offspring. Being educated in how our bodies use menstruation as a signal for conception can help us make decisions about birth control, fertility, egg freezing and other health issues.

Menstruation is a delicate process that women experience. It is a privilege bestowed upon females and knowing how it works can make you empowered especially when it comes to reproductive health. Yes, menstruation can be inconvenient and painful at times but it is also a reminder that your body is doing its thing to contribute to the creation and preservation of life for our planet.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 19, 2023

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