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All About Periods

What is periods - The female monthly cycle is a right of passage for young women everywhere. After all, a period is the miracle that allows women to reproduce. This section helps you understand periods from a physical, emotional, and social aspect. Specifically, we present here the biology, management, and alleviation of some of the more aggravating symptoms.

Why they occur - Menstruation-your period-is just one part of a larger menstrual cycle. As women grow older and become reproductively mature, we all develop a menstrual cycle. During this cycle, your uterus will prepare to house a fertilized egg. If the egg is not fertilized and you are not pregnant, then the lining is not needed and is shed. It is this shedding of the uterine lining that is called your period. This cycle repeats itself month after month until you reach menopause.

The process is an intricate one, controlled by the brain and a complex, hormone-signaling system. Although menstrual cycles can vary in length, the number of days between ovulation and your menstrual period is consistent-approximately 14 days (11-16 is the normal variation). For example, if your typical cycle length is 31 days, then the first half of the cycle is 16 days and ovulation occurs on the 17th day.

But the menstrual period is only one part of the cycle that takes place each month until you are in your 40s or 50s.

Phase of menstruation -

  • Phase One: On day one of the cycle, your menstrual period begins. Every month, the uterus in your body builds up a fresh new lining of blood and tissue. The purpose of this process is to help nourish a developing baby if you are pregnant. When this lining, called the endometrium, is not needed to nourish a baby, it leaves the uterus, travels through the cervix and the vagina, and trickles out of the vaginal opening. This menstrual blood, called the period, may be bright red, light pink, or even brown. A period usually lasts about three to seven days. The normal amount of menstrual flow is usually about 1/4 of a cup.
  • Phase Two: During this phase, some of the ova, or eggs, in your ovaries are maturing and moving toward the surface. One of these eggs (or sometimes two) matures each month.
  • Phase Three: Ovulation is the name of the event that takes place when one of the ovaries releases a mature egg. The egg travels out of the ovary, into the nearest fallopian tube and into your uterus. As the egg moves down the fallopian tube, which takes several days, the lining of the uterus continues to grow thicker and thicker.
  • Phase Four: During this phase, if you become pregnant, the egg moves into your uterus and attaches to the endometrium. If you are not pregnant, the lining of the uterus is shed through the vaginal opening. Then, a new menstrual cycle begins.


When they start -  Most girls have their first menstrual period between the ages of nine and 16. For the first year or two, periods will probably be irregular; it may not come at the same time every month. A girl can even have her first period and not have another one for months. In most cases, periods become regular (about once a month) within two years of the first period.

Generally, girls can expect a first period about two to three years after the first signs of breast development. There are several things that can affect the onset of menstruation. One thing is genetics. The age when your mother had her first period may be a clue. Your weight may also have an effect-either too thin or too heavy. Athletic girls also tend to start menstruating later.

In the final stages of puberty, young women reach physical, emotional & sexual maturity. They grow to their full height, breasts reach their full size, & girls develop a regular pattern of menstruation

Pregnancy & Childbirth

Introduction - As every mom will tell you, there is nothing quite like finding out you're pregnant. This long anticipated time, from your first knowledge of pregnancy, through the first few months of your baby's life, is supposed to be magical-filled with relief, joy, and, of course, overwhelming love.

But for many pregnant women and new mothers, the word that best describes this time is "overwhelming." Between all the hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and the hard work of simply figuring out how to take care of your baby, many women start to feel like they're in over their heads.

Pregnancy & Your Body - There is no greater wonder than pregnancy. The miracle of the union of the egg and sperm still eludes scientists in many ways and the changes in a woman's body, both before and after birth, are astounding. Although nine months may seem like a long time, it is really quite short when you consider all the changes that occur. Equally remarkable is that after a pregnancy and breastfeeding, the mother's body can return to something close to its pre-pregnancy state.

Knowing as much as possible about these changes will help you to understand what you are feeling and noticing about your body throughout the pregnancy and after delivery. When you know what to expect, and understand what is normal and what may be abnormal, you will no doubt be more relaxed. If you ever have a question, never hesitate to consult with your physician. Even if it is only reassurance that you are given, it is important to know that you and your baby are healthy.

Menstrual Function - The first change that signals a pregnancy is the cessation of menstruation. During a monthly ovulatory cycle, hormones fluctuate on a cycle. But when you're pregnant, estrogen and progesterone are produced constantly, which prevents the shedding of the uterine lining. Approximately one percent of women have some abnormal bleeding early in pregnancy and a woman can mistake this for a period. In approximately half of these cases, the bleeding will eventually abate and the pregnancy will proceed normally.

However, bleeding in the first trimester may also be a sign of an abnormal pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy or an incipient miscarriage. Later on in the pregnancy, bleeding may indicate a problem with the placenta or premature labor. If you experience any bleeding, you should notify your obstetrician.

Uterine changes - The non-pregnant uterus is a small, pear-shaped organ, slightly larger than the size of a fist. During pregnancy, it is transformed from a firm, muscular organ that weighs about 70 grams (one tenth of a pound) to a large, thin-walled structure that weighs approximately 1100 grams (two pounds) without the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid.

The increase in size starts very early in pregnancy. By the 12th week (when a woman is entering the fourth month), the uterus rises up and out of the pelvis and can now be felt if one presses in the middle of her lower abdomen.

Since it is a muscular organ, the uterus will intermittently and irregularly contract throughout pregnancy. Many women can perceive a dull ache, pressure, or a pulling sensation from very early in the pregnancy. Early on, these are usually unnoticeable; however, some women are aware of these painless contractions throughout the entire pregnancy. During the final months, it is entirely normal to feel occasional contractions. In the final weeks, these contractions may become more regular and are commonly referred to as "false labor" or Braxton-Hicks contractions. As a woman approaches true labor, the pattern becomes more regular, frequent, forceful, and painful.


Introduction -  Today, more than ever, menopause is being accepted as a normal stage of a woman's life-not a disease. While it's true this change of life is marked by hormonal shifts that can cause symptoms and leave you more vulnerable to certain diseases, these symptoms can be controlled and diseases can be prevented.

Talking about Menopause -  By definition, menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for six to twelve months in a row and an elevated follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level. The cessation of menstruation indicates that there are no remaining follicles left in the ovaries. This leads to an end of ovarian estrogen production.

Most women associate menopause with the lack of menstruation, as well as the symptoms that are most prevalent roughly five years before and five years after their last period. The few years before and after your last period are known as " perimenopause" and "climacteric."

Perimenopause is heralded by the onset of irregular periods. The climacteric is a more encompassing term that defines the transitional time from the reproductive to the post-reproductive years. During perimenopause, your symptoms may include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia, and mood swings.

The good news is that more options exist than ever before for treating the symptoms of menopause and preventing the diseases associated with it. They range from behavioral modifications such as nutrition and exercise to medical treatments.

Indeed, your experience of menopause will be defined by a variety of lifestyle and genetic factors that are unique to you. Similarly, barring serious medical conditions, your approach to treatment can also be tailored to your personal choices. In short, like all changes, menopause presents a challenge-a challenge that can bring greater rewards when you are informed about it and your options.

Common Question -

Hormonal Changes - Menopause is a time of dramatic changes. To better understand them, a refresher course on the hormonal fluctuations that occur during your reproductive cycle may be helpful.

During your fertile years, starting at puberty, your monthly cycle begins with the release of the hormone Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamic region of the brain that is close to the pituitary gland. GnRH hormone triggers the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. The release of FSH stimulates the development of follicles, or small structures in the ovary, which contain eggs.

Each month, FSH and LH stimulation cause the follicles to ripen and secrete estrogen and progesterone upon ovulation. These two hormones cause your uterus to thicken in preparation for pregnancy. LH triggers the release of a mature egg from the follicle. If pregnancy does not happen, progesterone and estrogen levels decline and the uterine lining (endometrium) sheds as menstrual blood. FSH levels increase in preparation for a new cycle.

As you age, the number and quality of follicles in your ovaries declines. Irregular menses are a sign that you are intermittently not ovulating. As a consequence of this, progesterone is not always produced. This erratic pattern may continue until menopause.

During this time, called the perimenopausal stage, estrogen levels also change unpredictably and dramatically. The changes in estrogen can cause different menopausal symptoms. The fluctuations in estrogen can contribute to erratic vaginal bleeding. At the times when estrogen levels are low, you may experience hot flashes. The depletion of estrogen results in vaginal and urinary changes, and higher risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

Vaginal Discharge & Yeast Infections

Introduction - All women have vaginal discharge. It is a normal part of the reproductive cycle and a fact of life. However, if you are unclear about what's normal and what's not, She Comfort can help. In this section, we offer some guidelines about vaginal discharge and one of the most common, bothersome, and often misdiagnosed ailments related to it-yeast infections.

When is discharge Normal - The inside of your vagina, like the inside of your mouth and nose, is covered with a mucus membrane-a type of body tissue that produces moisture. So it's normal to feel a little dampness in your underpants during the course of a day. In fact, if the vaginal lining stayed dry, you would be susceptible to vaginal infections and sexual intercourse would be painful!

Most women produce more mucus around the middle of their menstrual cycle-usually a couple of weeks after a period. This increase coincides with ovulation-the release of the egg (or ovum) from the ovary. During pregnancy, there is often an increase in vaginal discharge and sometimes it becomes quite thick. There are also certain types of birth control pills which tend to make some women feel damp.

Sexual excitement stimulates the membranes to produce fluid to lubricate the vagina in preparation for intercourse. And after sexual intercourse, there may be quite a large amount of discharge.

Normal discharge is clear and smooth or creamy and has a very slight smell which can be described as sweet or soapy. What is not normal is any discharge that is smelly, itchy, discolored, or irritating. Anything like that should be discussed with a doctor, along with any bleeding between periods. The most likely cause of abnormal vaginal discharge is an infection.

Some Common problems -

Yeast Infection - Yeast infection is a very common cause of vaginal infection. It is caused by a form of yeast known as candida. Candida occurs naturally in the vagina and bowel, and usually it is no trouble because it is kept in check by other, harmless bacteria which inhabit the same places. However, if these bacteria are reduced-by antibiotics, for example-the yeast can grow and cause problems.

Pregnant women and those with diabetes often get yeast infections, and it is most likely to appear just before a period. Ask your doctor about a one-dose medication that treats yeast infections.

Symptoms: A thick white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Irritation and itchiness around the vagina. Discomfort when urinating and during sexual intercourse.

Trichomonas - Trichomonas is a tiny parasite that may be transmitted during sex or picked up by contaminated washcloths or towels. Men can get it too, but rarely show any symptoms. Because their symptoms may be hidden, it is necessary for men to be treated for trichomonas at the same time as their partners, so the disease is not passed back and forth.

Symptoms: Itching, soreness, and a burning sensation in the vagina. Foul-smelling, discolored vaginal discharge.

Chlamydia - Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that may cause symptoms in both men and women. It can lead to urinary infection or fertility problems if not treated.

Symptoms: Watery, sometimes odorous, vaginal discharge. Pain during urination.

Gonorrhea - Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease. It is very infectious.

Symptoms: Possible slight white, green, or brown discharge. Men have a discharge, swelling, and pain when urinating.

Non-Infectious Causes of Vaginal Discharge - Cervical Erosion: Sometimes a small area on the neck of the uterus (cervix) becomes raw and oozes. It may cause a heavy, clear, odorless discharge. Sometimes there is a little blood. The discharge tends to be worse just before a period.

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