Why am I talking about my periods? Well, it happens, every month. It is not a taboo or an unclean period or a sin, its natural and it gets messy. We experience this every month from an early age to menopause. Those are very many years to be shy about it. We use sanitary towels and tampons, we have mood swings and want to swing the TV in your face or want to cry. THIS IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS, IT IS NATURAL….do not throw that TV though, that is a case of anger management. And men who see an angry woman and assume she is on her periods, SHAME ON YOU, and so what if she is on her periods, DEAL WITH IT.
To hide the fact that we have periods every month is a big shame. We need to talk more about it and not just to make it a norm but to also create awareness on what is expected and what is not during these times. AND SANITARY PRODUCTS SHOULD NOT BE TAXED, THEY ARE NOT A LUXURY AND SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO ALL WOMEN.
Let’s break it down as below. Facts and reality
*Reality – what I and others experience because we all know we all don’t experience the book facts of menstruation.
Q: What is menstruation?
A: Menstruation is a woman’s monthly bleeding. When you menstruate, your body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina. Most menstrual periods last from 3 to 5 days.
R: Fact is they last 3-5 days but not for everyone. I have experienced 7-9 days of periods…Now this is more than a week of bleeding. Means adding more in your monthly budget for those 2-1 packets of sanitary towels or tampons. This is not usual and if you experience these long periods, go see the gynaecologist. Do not assume it will pass or do not see like it’s an inconvenience to the gynaecologist. It’s your body and if you are paying, you had better get answers.
When you see the gynae, ask all the questions you have. Ask what tests he is carrying out and why. Ask what medication he is giving you and why he thinks that is the option and before you start consuming the meds, research. Make Google your best friend. Anything you don’t understand, ask and do your research. Yes, you can argue with him if you doubt something.
Q: What is the menstrual cycle?
A: When periods (menstruations) come regularly, this is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep you healthy. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. A cycle is counted from the first day of 1 period to the first day of the next 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.
The rise and fall of levels of hormones during the month control the menstrual cycle.
R: If you have experienced periods twice a month as I have, that is not usual. If the period cycle ranges from 10 days then 22 days then 12 days(you get the irregular cycle I’m pointing there) then stalk the gynaecologist.
PS: Always take note of the cycles and length of the periods and also if you are on any medication so that when you see the gynaecologist you have your facts with you . If you have a smartphone, get a period app…I use P TRACKER(the one with a pink flower). It records the cycle lengths, moods, symptoms, pills taken etc. and the best part, it backs up my data on my email.
Q: How often should I change my pad and/or tampon?
A: You should change a pad before it becomes soaked with blood. You should change a tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours.
R: Let’s face it, during our periods, there are days when the flow is super heavy. Now the periods does not discriminate women. It doesn’t care if you are the CEO, supermodel, student or mother….when it comes, it comes. Some women are fortunate enough to have a clock timely period but not all….IT GETS MESSY. You wake up in the morning and you have stained your sheets. That doesn’t mean you are careless, it means you are a woman on her periods. No one can control the periods and tell them do not flow at night or when you wake up, it all comes flooding down as if it was building a temporary dam in your sleep. Sometimes when we sneeze, it flows. Yes, this is real. So yes, it can get MESSY regardless where you are and it can get us paranoid visiting the ladies every so often especially if we are in that colourful outfit or in a boardroom full of men who see this as a weakness. It is not, IT IS NATURAL.
Q: What kinds of problems do women have with their periods?
A: Women can have a range of problems with their periods, including pain, heavy bleeding, and skipped periods.
- Amenorrhea — the lack of a menstrual period. This term is used to describe the absence of a period in:
- Young women who haven’t started menstruating by age 15
- Women and girls who haven’t had a period for 90 days, even if they haven’t been menstruating for long
Causes can include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Eating disorders
- Excessive exercising
- Serious medical conditions in need of treatment
As above, when your menstrual cycles come regularly, this means that important parts of your body are working normally. In some cases, not having menstrual periods can mean that your ovaries have stopped producing normal amounts of estrogen. Missing these hormones can have important effects on your overall health. Hormonal problems, such as those caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or serious problems with the reproductive organs, may be involved. It’s important to talk to a doctor if you have this problem.
- Dysmenorrhea — painful periods, including severe cramps. Menstrual cramps in teens are caused by too much of a chemical called prostaglandin (pros-tuh-GLAN-duhn). Most teens with dysmenorrhea do not have a serious disease, even though the cramps can be severe. In older women, the pain is sometimes caused by a disease or condition such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
For some women, using a heating pad or taking a warm bath helps ease their cramps. Some over-the-counter pain medicines can also help with these symptoms. They include:
- Ibuprofen (for instance, Advil, Motrin, Midol Cramp)
- Ketoprofen (for instance, Orudis KT)
- Naproxen (for instance, Aleve)
If these medicines don’t relieve your pain or the pain interferes with work or school, you should see a doctor. Treatment depends on what’s causing the problem and how severe it is.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding — vaginal bleeding that’s different from normal menstrual periods. It includes:
- Bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after sex
- Spotting anytime in the menstrual cycle
- Bleeding heavier or for more days than normal
- Bleeding after menopause
Abnormal bleeding can have many causes. Your doctor may start by checking for problems that are most common in your age group. Some of them are not serious and are easy to treat. Others can be more serious. Treatment for abnormal bleeding depends on the cause. In both teens and women nearing menopause, hormonal changes can cause long periods along with irregular cycles. Even if the cause is hormonal changes, you may be able to get treatment. You should keep in mind that these changes can occur with other serious health problems, such as uterine fibroids, polyps, or even cancer. See your doctor if you have any abnormal bleeding.
Now, having severe cramps is NOT normal. Do not ignore pains that even shoot down your legs and up your arms and say it happens when my periods. GO SEE A GYNAECOLOGIST ASAP. I am saying asap because the cause of those pains could be ignored and it grows into something more serious. ENDOMETRIOSIS, ADENOMYOSIS, FIBROIDS, FIBROMYALGIA, PCOS ARE REAL!!!
Q: What happens during the menstrual cycle?
A: 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.
Q: When should I see a doctor?
A: See your doctor about your period if and when you feel something is not right. Your instincts are normally right.
R: That is very true. Go see the gynaecologist if feel something is not right and if the he/she dismisses you as some of them do, don’t go home and sulk, go get a second opinion. Again, your instincts are normally right. Do not suffer in silence. If it means going to more than 5 docs, do it.
I will NOT STOP openly talking about periods. Not when we are ashamed thus making female issues to be second priorities. If both men and women had periods, or both were very vocal about it, am sure some of these conditions would not be ailing so many of us women.