Menstrual Cycle: What’s normal & what’s not

For a woman, her menstrual cycle is an important factor, influencing and playing a significant role in her overall health. It is a regular and natural process that occurs in the female reproductive system.

Normal menstrual cycle is due to monthly hormonal changes in body that occurs from menace to menopause. Each month one ovary release one egg. A woman first experiences her menstrual ‘period’ at an early age, usually between twelve and fifteen years of age. This cycle typically lasts between 2 to 7 days, varying from person to person.

Menstrual cycle is counted from first day of menses to first day of next menses.In general 25 days to 35 days cycle and using two to three napkins per day bleeding is normal. Understanding your cycle is imperative, considering that an irregular change may mean something.

Here are a few typical occurrences that a woman may or may not come across, when menstruating. 

SPOTTING: Usage of birth control pills often leads to sudden spotting; however, few women who are not on birth control pills experience spotting too. This is due to a quick surge and decline in Estrogen and may occur at any stage during reproductive years. If you are on the pill and your spotting does not go away naturally, you must consult your doctor about a high dose pill. If you have been diagnosed with Polyps, retrieval can be done to check for any pre-malignancies or malignancies.

HEAVY FLOW: If you suddenly begin to experience a wave like heavy flow that requires a change in pad or tampons more than six times in a day, do not ignore this sign, you may have a problem. It may be Fibroids, which are abnormal growths in the Uterus that alter the uterine wall and could be benign tumors or non-cancerous. Sometimes, these tumors are quiet large and can cause tremendous pain; these tend to become common as women age. Fibroids shrink or typically disappear during menopause as Estrogen depletes, however, dealing with the pain is subjective to one’s tolerance level. Fibroids can be removed throughUltrasound-guided surgery, Uterine Artery Embolization, Hysterectomy or other methods.

IRREGULAR PERIODS:The time between each period is almost similar, sometimes a day or two early or late for most women. However, for some the interval between periods differs substantially. Irregularity of period may be associated with stress, weight loss or gain which is a result of your hormones going on a rollercoaster spin.

Irregular menses occur due to many reasons like hormonal imbalance, fibroid  uterus, Uterus  cancer, ovarian cancer, Pelvic inflammatory  diseases , pregnancy, breast   feeding , Poly cystic  ovarian diseases , eating  disorders and premature  ovarian  failure. In all these conditions amount of bleeding, dates of bleeding  changes. If your change in period is sudden, do not waste time and see your doctor immediately. If the problem goes undetected, it leads to further and more serious complications.

NO PERIOD: Failure in getting your period is often subjected to being pregnant, if irregular cycles are not the concern. Some women may yet be fertile even if they’re menstruating; this is due to an overlap of periods at the commencement of Ovulation. If a woman engages in sex at the end of her period there is a possibility of getting pregnant as the sperm lasts for at least 72 hours in the reproductive tract.  If you are not ready being pregnant, protection is key.

OVER CONSUMPTION OF IPILL: SIDE EFFECTS: Over use of Ipills causes  lower abdominal  pain like cramps , breast  pain  ,Nausea , Headache ,Tiredness , Intermittent bleeding  Giddiness , Heavy & Irregular periods. But all these symptoms go away in a day or two. It may also cause blood clot and sometime stroke, so it should not be taken unless it is necessary.

 ABUSE OF PERIOD ALTERING MEDICATION (TO PREPONE & POSTPONE): Repeated prepone and postpone your period with hormones make your cycle irregular and ovulation date is also changed. You can have scanty menses or heavy flow after that.

(Disclaimer: Writer is Dr Sushma Tomar, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Fortis Hospital. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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