Periods. Every woman goes through periods every month however, not all women have the same experience. Some have a smooth sailing period with no pain or discomfort while others go through a lot of pain during periods, which sometimes causes them to take a day off. While the right age to hit menopause is around 50 years, some women go through menopause at an early age of 40 years (which is known as early menopause). Some women have premenstrual symptoms (PMS) while for others it’s just like any other day during periods. As the experience of every woman is different during periods, most women till date have loads of doubts when it comes to periods.
So in this article, we have tried to answer some of the most basic, common and frequently asked questions around periods/menstruation. Let’s get started!
7 Common Period Questions Answered
1. What is a period?
A menstrual period also known as menstruation or periods is the time of the month when a woman sheds the uterine lining (endometrium). This causes blood and tissue from the uterus to come out of the vagina. Typically, a menstrual period occurs following hormonal changes in the body which prepares the body for pregnancy by causing the uterine lining to thicken. But if the egg fails to get fertilized post ovulation, then there is a sudden drop in the hormonal levels which cause the uterine lining to shed causing you to bleed.
The average length of the menstrual cycle is 28 days, however, it can range from 22 to 35 days. While the menstrual period or bleeding lasts up to three to five days.
2. How to reduce period pain?
Menstrual cramps and discomfort are one of the common symptoms experienced during periods. This is due to the shedding of the inner uterine lining. To reduce period pain all you have to do is keep a tab on your diet. It is advised to eat healthy and drink lots of fluids during periods. Also, restrict the intake of foods such as tea, coffee, chocolates, salty foods and red meat which can increase the risk of stomach woes. Taking a pain reliever is not a good idea every time you have period pain. Hence, it is advised to use a heating pad which improves blood flow and helps ease the pain. You can also take a warm water bath to reduce pain during menstruation.
3. When do periods stop?
Typically, the average age for a woman to begin menstruation is 12 years which may continue till a woman reaches menopause. Women usually hit menopause by the age of 50. However, women can go through this phase anytime between the age of 45 years to 55 years. When menopause occurs, a woman no longer ovulates or produces eggs, which means no menstruation. This is the time and age when periods stop.
4. Is white discharge a sign of period coming?
A white discharge that you may see before your periods might be due to the cells that are filled with fluid and are shed from the vagina. This happens during the luteal phase in which the hormone progesterone peaks in the body. This causes the discharge to be thick and white. However, when the hormone estrogen peaks in the body it can lead to clear or watery discharge. Hence, it is quite common to experience white discharge before periods. But if a thick white discharge is accompanied with itching, foul odor, redness, swelling or pain, then it is wise to consult a doctor as it could be a sign of an infection.
5. Is it possible to miss a period for a month?
Yes, it is possible to miss or skip a period for a month. This could be due to stress which can cause changes in the hormonal level, which in turn can affect your menses. Moreover, one can miss their periods due to nutritional changes, travel, and infection. However, if you miss a period for more than three to four months at a stretch and have tested negative for pregnancy, then consult a doctor. Consistent, irregular periods could be a sign of an underlying condition right from thyroid to PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which might need medical attention.
6. Do NO periods mean I am pregnant?
Not necessary. This is because no periods can be a sign of various conditions right from hormonal problems in the body and nutritional deficit to pregnancy. Hence, if you have missed your periods for two consecutive months after having unprotected sex, then take a home pregnancy test. If your test results show negative do consult a doctor to know the cause of no periods, which is technically known as amenorrhea.
In fact, there are times when a pregnant woman might bleed. This can happen in the early stages of the pregnancy. In such a case, having spotting or light bleeding does not indicate you are not pregnant.
7. How much blood do I lose during my period?
It is difficult to define the amount of blood flow loss during periods. However, according to a 2001 study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the actual amount of blood loss which is considered as normal is less than 60 mL, which accounts to approximately one-fourth of a cup. The blood flow of 60-100 ml is considered as moderately heavy whereas blood flow which is more than 100 ml is known as excessive blood loss and termed as hypermenorrhea. Hypomenorrhea refers to a decrease in the amount of menstrual flow to substantially less than 30 ml per cycle. As it is practically impossible to measure the amount of blood lost during periods, changing more than six to eight pads a day might be a sign of heavy periods.
If you have any query regarding periods, then do let us know in the comments section below and we will get it answered for you. Share this article to all the women you know to spread the word.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
1. Fraser IS, Warner P, Marantos PA. Estimating menstrual blood loss in women with normal and excessive menstrual fluid volume. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Nov;98(5Pt 1):806-14.