Know the basics
What is menstrual cycle?
Menstruation is a woman’s monthly bleeding. Menstrual cycle or menstruation period is a period in every month when one of the ovaries releases an egg, leading the ovulation. This practice will cause bleeding through the vagina. It usually last about 3 to 5 days, varying in every woman.
The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep you healthy. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. The rise and fall of levels of hormones during the month control the menstrual cycle. Your period may not be the same day every month because a cycle is counted from the first day of the previous period to the first day of the subsequent 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.
How common is menstrual cycle?
This health condition is extremely common in all women. The first menstrual period – menarche – can happen when you are 8 or up to 12 years old. And lasting periodically every month until menopause, around age 50. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of menstrual cycle?
The common symptoms of menstrual cycle are:
- Cramping in the lower abdomen;
- Back pain;
- Appetite changes or food cravings;
- Swollen and tender breasts;
- Trouble sleeping;
- Joint or muscle pain;
- Tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells;
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Lack of menstrual period – Amenorrhea, which happens in young women without menstruation by the age of 15 or no menstruating over 90 days.
- Severe cramps –
- Abnormal uterine bleeding such as bleeding between periods, after sex, anytime in the menstrual cycle or spotting more than 7 days.
Know the causes
What causes menstrual cycle?
It is a normal health condition that every woman has to undergo due to the hormone effect.
In the first half of the cycle, levels of estrogen (the “female hormone”) start to rise. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping you healthy, especially by helping you to build strong bones and to help keep them strong as you get older. Estrogen also makes 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. At the same time, the lining of the womb is growing, an egg, or ovum, in one of the ovaries, starts to mature. 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 3 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.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for menstrual cycle?
This health condition is a compulsory, necessary issue as a sign that important parts of your body are working normally.
There are many risk factors for irregular menstrual cycle, such as:
- Stress, illness.
- It usually affects women who are of reproductive age.Low estrogen can cause missed or irregular periods.
- Medicines such as birth control pills.
- Change in lifestyle – overwhelmed exercise, eating disorders, extreme weight loss or excessive exercising.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding. A missed period can be an early sign of pregnancy. Breastfeeding typically delays the return of menstruation after pregnancy.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid — called follicles — located in each ovary as seen during an ultrasound exam.
- Premature ovarian failure. Premature ovarian failure refers to the loss of normal ovarian function before age 40. Women who have premature ovarian failure — also known as primary ovarian insufficiency — might have the irregular or occasional periods for years.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This infection of the reproductive organs can cause irregular menstrual bleeding.
- Uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual periods and prolonged menstrual periods.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is menstrual cycle diagnosed?
Your doctor will use the physical exam firstly to figure out whether it is normal or abnormal. If your menstrual cycle is abnormal, these subsequent tests will be taken place such as the pelvic exam, blood test, endometrial biopsy, hysteroscopy, and ultrasound.
How is menstrual cycle treated?
There is no need to treat this normal condition. If you have a menstrual cramp, take aspirin or another painkiller such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve this unexpected feeling.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage menstrual cycle?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with menstrual cycle:
- Place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower back or abdomen. Taking a warm bath may also provide some relief.
- Rest when needed.
- Avoid foods that contain caffeine and salt.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Massage your lower back and abdomen.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Menstrual cycle: What's normal, what's not. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186?pg=2 Accessed September 15, 2016.
Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html Accessed September 15, 2016.
Your Guide to Menstrual Cramps. http://www.webmd.com/women/menstrual-cramps#2 Accessed September 15, 2016.
Review Date: October 4, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017