Menstrual cycle: what's normal, what's not

May 03, 2021

The menstrual cycle is a regular and natural process that occurs in the female reproductive system. A normal menstrual cycle is due to monthly hormonal changes in the body that occurs from puberty to menopause. Each month one ovary releases one egg. A woman first experiences her menstrual ‘period’ at an early age, usually between 12 and 15 years of age. This cycle typically lasts for 2 to 7 days, varying from person to person.

One complete menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of menses to the first day of the next menses. A normal cycle should be between 25 to 35 days, with the use of 2-3 napkins per day to stop the bleeding. If there’s any deviation from this, it might be an irregularity, which might mean something.

Following are some occurrences a woman may or may not come across when menstruating, according to the best gynecology hospital in India:

Spotting: If you’re taking birth control pills, you might notice sudden spotting. But if you experience this without using any birth control pills, this might be due to a sudden rise and decline in estrogen. This can happen at any stage of your reproductive years. Consult a doctor at the earliest. In case you’ve been diagnosed with Polyps retrieval can be done to check for any pre-malignancies or malignancies.

Heavy Flow: If you experience a sudden ‘wave-like’ heavy flow, to the tune of changing pads or tampons more than 6 times a day, it is not to be ignored. It may be Fibroids - abnormal growths in the Uterus which alter the uterine wall and could be benign tumours or non-cancerous. Sometimes, however, these tumours are quite large, thus causing tremendous pain. Moreover, these tend to become common as women age. Fibroids usually shrink or deplete as women near menopause as the estrogen depletes. Managing the pain, however, depends on one’s tolerance level. Fibroids can also be removed if they become unbearable. Some of the options are ultrasound-guided surgery, Uterine Artery Embolization, Hysterectomy or other methods.

Irregular Periods: The interval between each period is more or less similar. There may be a discrepancy of 1 or 2 days, which is normal. But if the interval is considerably more, there’s a problem and it’s advisable to start looking for irregular period treatments in your area. Such an irregularity may be due to stress, weight gain or loss, indicating your hormones are going haywire. There can be several other reasons for this irregularity - fibroid uterus, Uterus cancer, ovarian cancer, Pelvic inflammatory diseases, pregnancy, breast   feeding, Poly cystic ovarian diseases, eating disorders and premature ovarian failure. These conditions can lead to changes in amount of bleeding as well as dates of bleeding. If you notice these changes, do not hesitate to consult your doctor. Ignoring the problem can lead to serious complications. 

Absence of Period: To state the obvious, absence of a period can be a sign of pregnancy. There can be cases when women are fertile even if they’re menstruating. This might be due to an overlap of periods and the start of ovulation. Engaging in sex at the end of your period can lead to pregnancy since the sperm can sit in the reproductive tract for at least 72 hours. Hence, always use protection. 

Excessive Consumption of Contraceptive Pills: Do not overuse contraceptive pills. This can cause a number of health problems - lower abdominal pain like cramps, breast pain, Nausea, Headache, Tiredness, Intermittent bleeding Giddiness, Heavy & Irregular periods. Although all these symptoms go away in a day or two, it might also lead to blood clots and sometimes stroke. Hence, these pills should be taken only when necessary.

Abuse of Period Altering Medication (to Prepone & Postpone): Frequently preponing and postponing your periods by taking such medications can have an adverse effect on your health. Apart from menstrual irregularities, your ovulation date might change and you might have scanty to heavy flow as a result of it.

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