MENSTRUAL CYCLE : Myths and Facts


menstrual cycle

MENSTRUAL CYCLE


The Menstrual cycle starts on the first day of the menstrual period and ends with the start of the following period. A menstrual cycle consists of natural changes that occur in a women's body every month in preparation of pregnancy. Menstruation starts at puberty and ends at menopause. Beginning of first menstrual period is termed as ‘ Menarche’. The cycle lasts an average of 28 days but may vary between 20 and 40 days. First day of cycle is the 1st day of period and last day is that of following period.


There are four stages of menstrual cycle

  1. Menstrual Phase

  2. Follicular Phase

  3. Ovulation Phase

  4. Luteal Phase


Menstrual Phase


It is that phase where woman gets her periods. This stage signifies that the egg released from previous cycle has not fertilized, no pregnancy has happened.


Follicular Phase


This phase starts from first day of period till ovulation. Follicular stimulating hormone ( FSH) stimulates the growth of follicles and maturation of eggs. Usually 1 egg matures at a time.


Ovulation Phase


Ovulation is the phase where the matured egg is released and it travels down the fallopian tube to get fertilized by the sperm. The egg remains in the fallopian tube for some days and it is not fertilized then, it is given out in menstruation.


Luteal Phase


As the matured egg is released, it changes to corpus luteum, which causes hormonal changes and to thicken the lining of uterus to prepare for pregnancy. If fertilization doesn't occur then, the there would next menstrual phase, which would begin.



Factors affecting menstrual cycle are as follows :


1. Birth control pills - Birth control pills may alter or modify the duration of period.

2. Hormonal imbalance - Hormonal fluctuations and few hormone related conditions may affect or delay the phases of menstruation. Very commonly conditions like PCOS may commonly affect.

3. Uterine Fibroid - One of the conditions of uterine condition, which may affect the amount of blood flow during the periods or may modify the duration.

4. Pregnancy - During pregnancy, usually, females dont get periods. But sometimes, females may notice spotting or mild bleeding.


5. Thyroid conditions - condition associated with thyroid gland like, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may affect the duration or intensity of bleeding or periods.



Health problems associated with menstrual cycle

  • Menorrhagia - Heavy bleeding during periods.

  • Amenorrhea - No periods.

  • Dysmenorrhea - painful menstruation

  • PMS - pre menstrual tension syndrome, it lasts for 1-2 weeks before your period.

Menstruation is a natural phenomenon unique to girls, hence, however it has always been surrounded by taboos and myths. These myths exclude women from many aspects of socio- cultural life. The taboos are age old beliefs or certain traditions in few communities, Myths are the stories linked with menstruation, which may or may not be associated with the socio- cultural factors. These myths may not be true completely.


They pose a major stigma on mental health of society. A normal menstrual cycle shows that the female body is matured and ready for the process of child bearing, hence it is important to address the myths and know the facts and create an awareness about the same. There are many myths according geographical, cultural areas, However we have addressed a few of them.


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Myths and Facts about Mentruation


period at least by you are 13

Myth 1 : You are supposed to get period at a certain age


Fact 1 : There is no set age at which a girl can have first period. Menstrual cycle often begins at puberty between 9-15 years of age. average age of 13 years. It usually starts 2 years after breast and pubic hair start developing. However there are cases where a girl has got her periods as early as 8 and as late as 15.




Myth 2 : Menstruation is dirty and impure and females cannot participate in normal life activities while periods.


Fact 2 : Menstruation is a normal phenomenon and its cause is ovulation followed by missed chance of pregnancy. It results in bleeding from the endometrial vessels and is followed by preparation of next cycle. So getting period is a sign of healthy female body and not related to any impurities. Hence, hygiene and sanitize has to be taken care while menstruating , otherwise it can affect the normal health.



Myth 3 : One cant get pregnant or have sex while menstruating.


Fact 3 : It is not very common to get pregnant when while on periods, but it isn't impossible. Pregnancy depends on ovulation. An egg released can stay in the fallopian tube for about 24 hours while sperm can live in for 3 to 4 days. so it all depends when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Well, whether to have sex or no is a personal opinion of the couple, but precaution ( condom) is the option then to avoid pregnancy.



Myth 4 : No exercises during periods. Take rest.


Fact 4 : There is a popular belief that exercising during period may be harmful or can increase pain and bleeding. But , the fact is that; few stretching exercises can be helpful in relieving pain associated with the periods. Also, a short walk can help in relaxing mind. Also, studies have shown that regular exercises helps in normalizing the cycle if it is not regular. But, if pain is severe then, it is advisable to take rest n consult a doctor.



Myth 5 : If you roam together during periods with girl gang, then getting periods is very soon.


Fact 5 : There is no such thing that you share periods. Each girl has her own cycle and ovulation time. So it may not influence other female’s cycle. So its ok to roam around with your friends when you have periods. It can just be coincidence to share the period dates.



Myth 6: Period may last for 1 week.


Fact 6 : The normal duration of menstrual cycle is 28- 40 days. However it varies from person to person. However, it is nothing like bleeding can last for 1 week or so. Average duration is 4-5 days of bleeding.



Myth 7 : Hot showers can increase the blood flow.


Fact 7 : It is true that hot showers can stimulate the blood vessels, but it can also soothe the pain associated with the menstrual cramp and help in relaxing the tense muscles. So, not always hot showers can increase the blood flow.

There are many such prevalent myths , we have addressed few of them. Many of these myths affect mentality and lifestyles of a woman.



Myth 8 : PMS is all in your head.


Fact 8 : PMS is pre menstrual tension syndrome, it is real. Every month before period, female experiences some mental as well as physical changes because of which , there is mild discomfort, and some issues like, irritability, headache, backache and even depression like feeling. So it has to be taken care and consulted to a doctor for the treatment.



Myth 9 : Some countries consider period as disease.


Fact 9 : Getting menstrual period is a normal and healthy process. It is a sign of matured physical body and that, the woman is ready for child bearing process. While some an isn't belief may put this natural process as a disease state, which is not true. Women may feel some pain and discomfort but it isn't due to disease it is related to the menses.



Myth 10 : Period irregularity can cause infertility.


Fact 10 : Irregular periods are due to various reasons. The reasons could be linked to hormonal or other physical conditions, however, fertility may not always be associated with irregular periods. So it is important to find out exact cause of infertility and treat it.



Myth 11 : Heavy periods is abnormal.


Fact 11 : Bleeding in periods can be either heavy or light. There are several factors which affect bleeding. So if the periods are heavy it doesn't mean it is abnormal. Every female has different body structure so even menstrual cycle would be different, so heavy or light bleeding may not always indicate normalcy of period. However if the bleeding is too heavy affecting the normal day to day life and affecting functions of body then it has to be addressed.


Myth 12 : Period blood is considered to be dirty.


Fact 12 : Bleeding that occurs in menses is shedded lining of the uterus after egg that has not fertilized. Hence , the blood isn't some , unwanted toxins that are taken out. So it may not be considered as dirty.



Impact of myth related to menstruation on women's life


Impact of myth related to menstruation on women's life
  • According to studies , it impacts on girl's or women's mentality and lifestyle.

  • School and college absenteeism is very common due to shame or discomfort.

  • Lack of awareness and poor facilities may affect the mental health of the girl, causing lack of confidence and shame.


  • It also gives a feeling of inferiority in females as this is exclusive to them.

  • Crimes related to female are common because of lack of knowledge.

  • It can also affect the confidence of a girl in day to day life.


Strategies to combat the myths

  • Awareness amongst the general public regarding menstruation and menstrual cycle.

  • Educating girls, boys, women about the do's and don'ts of menstruation and how to cope with the discomfort associated with it.

  • Provision of good sanitization and toilet facilities at schools, colleges and work place, so as to reduce the absenteeism

  • Awareness and educating about the myths associated with menstrual cycle and trying to avoid it.

  • Importance of exercises should be explained to girls.

  • Use of proper sanitary pads should be taught and it's advantages and disadvantages.

  • Awareness can be done at school, college and even at home by elders.

  • Now a days at many offices menstrual holidays have been started the proportion is low but would increase as awareness increases.

  • Easy availability of sanitary pads is very important, so that everyone understands that period is normal and it's not a thing to hidden from anyone.


Menstrual cycle is a normal and natural phenomenon and should be treated like that. It is essential to understand the normal physiology of menstruation and accordingly set priorities and goals for the society It becomes very important to address this issue associated with menstruation. Females should not be discriminated on the basis of periods. So this topic gives us an idea as to how to deal with menstrual cycle and myths associated with it.


References:

  • The logical Indian, Myth related to menstrual cycle.

  • Pharmacy, uncovering the facts related to menstruation.

  • Journal of family medicine and primary care; myths associated with menstrual cycle in India: strategies to combat


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