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February 14, 2017 | OB/GYN
There are several differences in the body that separate men from women, and one of these is a woman’s menstruation cycle. Also known as a period, the menstrual cycle begins during the early adolescent years for most girls, and is part of the body’s natural reproductive process.
Periods can be a difficult adjustment for many young girls, but they’re vital to certain regulating and normalizing processes in the female body. Issues with menstruation can potentially signal larger problems with reproduction, or can sometimes be a result of poor lifestyle habits. Many issues with menstruation can be prevented with the proper care.
Menstruation is the female body preparing for the possibility of pregnancy. Once a month, an egg is released from one of the ovaries during a process called ovulation. This egg is one half of the equation that adds up to a new human life – conception can occur when living sperm from a male fertilizes the egg.
Most of the time, though, sperm isn’t present to fertilize the egg when it’s released. In these cases, the uterus lining sheds through the vagina and causes bleeding. If the egg is fertilized, however, the menstrual cycle stops during the duration of the pregnancy.
For most women, the menstrual cycle is unpredictable at first, but normalizes after a few months. Once normalized, each menstrual cycle will be roughly the same length, and usually start around the same time – though this differs between women. There are a couple factors that can affect the timing or intensity of your period:
For most women, tracking periods is a great way to make sure everything is functioning normally and there are no problems. A few areas women can track include:
There are several different causes of problems with a woman’s menstruation cycle:
Many of these conditions can be prevented with the right habits. For some women, birth control helps regulate their periods in addition to acting as a contraceptive. Women with eating disorders or other underlying problems can benefit greatly from other forms of treatment. Some irregularities, however, cannot be prevented.
Every menstrual cycle is different, and each woman has their own standards for what’s normal. If you notice changes from your usual routine, or if you’re worried you’re having menstrual issues for any reason, speak to your doctor about your options.
“Menstruation and the menstrual cycle.” WomensHealth.gov. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/menstruation-and-menstrual-cycle
“Menstrual cycle: What’s normal, what’s not.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186?pg=1
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.