Menstruation, or a period, is when a woman’s body releases uterine tissue that it no longer needs. About once a month, the uterine lining gets thicker in preparation for a fertilized egg. If the woman does not get pregnant during this time, the body will release that lining as blood (typically ¼ of a cup) through the vagina over the course of 3-7 days. In many cases, women will not feel the blood leaving the body. However, some women will experience small to severe cramps and other symptoms during the menstruation cycle. Other symptoms can include back pain, nausea, constipation, insomnia, and changes in mood. The pain and discomfort are caused by hormones that are released during menstruation. These hormones force the uterus to contract in order to shed it’s lining.
In cases where menstruation pain and cramping is too severe that it interferes with daily life, medication is available. There are many over-the-counter and prescription options available to aid in reducing painful periods. Women will have their periods until they go through menopause. This is when menstruation and the ability to have children stop. This typically happens to a woman during her 40s or 50s.
Frequently Asked Questions About Menstrual Cycles (Periods)
1. What is a Menstrual Cycle?
A menstrual cycle is when a woman’s body releases tissue it no longer needs. This tissue comes from the uterus, which is where a baby (fetus) can develop in the female body. Every month, the uterus lining gets thicker to prepare for a fertilized egg if the woman becomes pregnant. If the egg doesn’t get fertilized, that lining is released from the body as blood through the vagina. This monthly process is called menstruation or a period. When a young woman has her period, her body is just getting rid of a small amount of blood and some unneeded tissue. It is a natural, normal body process for all women.
2. What does a period feel like?
The actual flow of your period doesn’t feel like much when it’s happening. Chances are, you will not feel it coming out. When you actually start your menstrual cycle, you may feel some dampness in your private area, which may be caused by a few spots of blood on your underwear.
3. Does having a period smell?
Odor from menstrual happens when the fluid comes in contact with air. When menstrual fluid is absorbed into the vagina, such as through a pad, it is not exposed to the air, so there may not be an odor. If you’re worried, change your absorbent pad frequently to help keep odor away.
4. Does a menstrual cycle hurt?
The menstrual cycle does not hurt, but some women experience cramps and other symptoms during their menstrual cycle that may cause discomfort. Typically, this is due to the hormones that body releases during the menstruation.
5. Is it okay to take a bath or shower when I have my period?
Yes. During your menstrual cycle, it’s important to keep yourself fresh and clean. Baths and showers are simple ways to stay feeling fresh.
6. Is there anything I will not be able to do during a menstrual cycle?
The menstrual cycle does not have to stop you from doing your normal activities. You can still go to school, help at home, see your friends, play sports and do all the things you’d normally do.
7. How much blood do I lose during my period?
Most women will approximately 1/4 cup of menstrual fluid during the menstrual cycle. Don’t worry, because the body will compensate for the lost blood.
8. When will I stop having my period for good?
Women get periods until menopause, which is when menstruation and the ability to have children stop. In most women, it usually happens in their late 40s or early 50s. But menopause can happen earlier or later. Some women may stop menstruation by the time they’re 35 years old, and others may not stop until their late 50s.