Do you track when your period starts and how long it lasts every month? If you don’t, you may need to start. Knowing and understanding your cycle is crucial in order to have an idea of what’s normal for you and your body. This can help you easily spot any changes to your period cycle on a monthly basis. For instance, if you track your period every month, you should be able to know if you miss a period or if you bleed irregularly. While period irregularities might not always indicate serious problems, sometimes they can signify that something is wrong. So, what are common period symptoms and why is it called menstruation? Read the article below to find out more.
Why It’s Called Menstruation
The term menstruation originated from the Latin word mensis, which means month, and the Greek word mene, which refers to the moon. In ancient times, the menstrual cycle was thought to be related to the moon’s cycle because both cycles last around 29 days.
What’s a Normal Period Cycle?
A normal menstrual cycle includes a predictable sequence of events that happen within the female body as it gets ready for the possibility of a pregnancy. This cycle begins on the first day of a woman’s period and can last from about 21 to 35 days.
All About Period Symptoms
Now that you have an understanding on a normal period cycle, it’s also important to understand the most common symptoms that women experience during their menstrual cycle. During a normal period cycle, you may observe breast tenderness. abdominal bloating, and mood swings. Other common period symptoms include acne, abdominal cramps, hunger, and difficulty sleeping. The majority of women experience these symptoms while they have their period, so you shouldn’t be alarmed if you notice to be experiencing them as well.
Apart from understanding the most common period symptoms, you should also familiarize yourself with the timing. Every month, as the body prepares for a potential pregnancy, the ovaries release an egg. During this process, your hormones levels change. Properly timing your menstrual cycle symptoms and duration can help you keep track of what’s happening and what to expect.
On average, this cycle should be 28 days long. However, it can vary from about 21 to 35 days.
Periods will likely be longer the first two years after you begin your menstrual cycle. Additionally, there is a high chance that it might not start at the same exact time every month during those first two years. This means that it can be difficult to tell the difference between normal period symptoms and an abnormal cycle during the first two years. However, as time goes on, you will start to have shorter and more predictable cycles.
There are several factors that can change the timing of your period. For instance, if you are taking birth control, your period timing can vary. It’s important to discuss with your TopLine MD Alliance affiliated doctor how your specific type of contraception can affect your period. When it comes to bleeding during the menstrual cycle, the duration also varies. For most women, the bleeding period lasts for about three to five days.
The Phases of a Normal Period Cycle
A normal menstrual cycle has several stages that are triggered by the ebbs and flows of hormonal levels in the body. The pituitary gland and the ovaries release the hormones that control the menstrual cycle. Each hormone released causes certain organs in the reproductive system to respond in a specific way. Below, we are detailing the stages and phases of a normal menstrual cycle:
The Menses Phase: This phase signifies the start of your menstrual cycle. The menses phases usually lasts from the first day to the fifth day. However, it’s also normal for the menses to last for as little as two days or exceed the five-day mark and last a week. During this phase, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. It’s important to note that this phase only occurs if you are not pregnant. So, the absence of the menses phase can be used as an indicator of pregnancy.
The Follicular Phase: This phase starts on day six and lasts until day 14. During this phase, the hormone estrogen levels rise. In response to the increasing levels of estrogen, the endometrium starts growing and thickening. Apart from estrogen, the levels of the follicle-stimulating hormone also rise, which causes the ovaries to start growing. From day 10 to day 14, one of the developing follicles will mature into a fully formed egg.
Ovulation: Ovulation occurs around the 14th day of the menstrual cycle. Similar to all of the other menstrual stages, it is also triggered by a hormonal signal. This time, a hormone known as the luteinizing hormone is released, causing the ovaries to release an egg.
The Luteal Phase: This phase starts at the point that the egg is released until day 28 of the cycle. Once the egg is released from an ovary, it will start descending down the fallopian tubes as it makes its way to the uterus. During this phase, the levels of progesterone rise in preparation for pregnancy. If fertilization does not occur, the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone will drop, leading to the shedding of the uterine lining and the start of the menses phase.
What Can Cause Menstrual Cycle Irregularities?
There are several factors that can trigger menstrual cycle irregularities, including:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding
- Extreme weight loss due to excessive exercise or eating disorders like anorexia
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Premature ovarian failure
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Uterine fibroids
If you are experiencing irregular menstrual cycles, it’s important to visit a TopLine MD affiliated doctor so you can find out what’s causing them. You can ask these providers to explain what the most common symptoms of periods are to help you understand what’s normal and abnormal about your own periods.
Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle
To understand what’s normal for you, it’s crucial to start tracking your menstrual cycle using a calendar. You can begin by circling the date that your period starts each month for several months in a row. This will help you establish a pattern and make it easier for you to notice any irregularities in the future. If you are concerned about your menstrual cycle, you can also take note of the end date, the heaviness of your flow, the presence of clots, abnormal bleeding, pain, and any other changes that you might experience.
Have you experienced an abnormal period or cycle before? It can be difficult to tell if your periods are normal or abnormal because the length of monthly cycles can vary by person. However, there are atypical symptoms that can be an indication of abnormal menstrual cycles. If you are having problems or aren’t sure whether your cycles are normal or not, find a TopLine MD affiliated provider and schedule a consultation.
The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.