A menstrual period is a period of vaginal bleeding at the end of the menstrual cycle. The body prepares for a probable pregnancy every month. The uterus thickens, and the ovaries produce an egg that can be fertilized by sperm.
Pregnancy will not occur during that cycle if the egg is not fertilized. The uterine lining is then lost by the body. The end outcome is a period, often known as menstruation.
The majority of people with uteri will have their first period between the ages of 11 and 14. Periods will continue to occur on a regular basis (usually monthly) until menopause, which occurs around the age of 51.
Learn more about menstruation facts and statistics by reading on.
Menstrual period disorders and complications
Monthly or regular periods indicate that your cycle is normal. Your body is preparing for a prospective pregnancy.
In addition to bleeding, 90 percent of menstruating women report experiencing a variety of symptoms. One common symptom is food cravings. According to a 2017 study, nearly half of American women crave chocolate at the start of their period.
Another typical period symptom is breast discomfort. It can be at its worst in the days leading up to menstruation. An increase in estrogen and progesterone causes enlarged breast ducts and swelling milk glands. As a result, there is pain and swelling.
This pain is caused by prostaglandins. These are substances that cause uterine muscle spasms. These hormones assist the body in excreting excess uterine lining, which can cause pain and cramping during the first few days of your period.
Some people do not have regular menstrual cycles. Intense physical activity or certain medical disorders might cause irregular periods. Irregular menstrual cycles can also occur in people who are:
Furthermore, according to a 2012 study, 32 to 40% of persons who have periods indicate that their discomfort is so bad that they have to miss work or school.
The following are the most prevalent period-related health issues.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue identical to the uterine lining grows in other regions of the body. This can result in:
- extreme discomfort
- prolonged durations
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, endometriosis affects one out of every ten women between the ages of 15 and 49. (ACOG). According to the ACOG, 30 to 50% of people with the disease will be infertile.
These benign tumors form between the layers of tissue in your uterus. Many women will develop at least one fibroid during their lifespan.
Menorrhagia is defined as excessive menstrual bleeding. Typical menstrual periods yield 2 to 3 teaspoons of menstrual blood. Menorrhagic women can produce more than twice that amount.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10 million American women have this illness.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that commonly appear one to two weeks before the start of a period. Among the symptoms are:
According to WomensHealth.gov, PMS affects up to three out of every four women.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of PMS.
It may result in:
- extreme mood swings
- long-lasting rage or irritation
Experts believe that roughly 5% of women suffer from PMDD.
Menstrual hygiene issues
During your period, poor menstrual hygiene is also a health hazard. Bacterial concerns might arise as a result of blood and tissue loss during a period.
This can be a major health hazard if menstrual products are not available or basic sanitation services, such as clean water, are not provided.
Cost on Menstrual period
Menstrual products cost more than $2 billion in the United States each year. The average menstruating woman uses nearly 17,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime.
This has a personal cost for the individual as well as an environmental cost for the planet. Many of these products do not degrade easily in landfills.
However, more than 16.9 million American women live in poverty and may lack access to menstrual products and symptom-treating medications. According to reports, people in jail or prison frequently do not have access to tampons or pads. These necessities can be used as bargaining chips and exchanged for food or favors.
In the United States, sales tax is frequently imposed on menstrual products. Currently, five states don’t charge sales tax:
- New Hampshire
21 states have specifically exempted these products from the so-called “tampon tax”:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Other states’ legislators have proposed legislation to eliminate these taxes.
Access to menstruation products can be difficult in other places as well. Menstrual pads are not available to half of all school-age women in Kenya, for example. Many people also lack access to restrooms and clean water. This commonly results in lost school days, and some students leave out entirely.
Menstrual period has occurred throughout history.
Menstruation is described as “harmful,” “unclean,” and capable of turning “fresh wine sour” in these instances.
Decades of flawed studies also did little to eliminate the stigma associated with periods.
Dr. Béla Schick invented the term “menotoxin” in 1920 to describe a belief he had that women release toxins during menstruation.
Schick came to this conclusion after observing a menstrual nurse handling a bunch of flowers. Schick noticed that those specific flowers withered faster than flowers that were not touched by the nurse. He determined that her period was the source of the problem.
To test the harmful theory, researchers injected menstrual blood into animals in the 1950s. The animals were killed by the blood. However, it was eventually determined that the death was caused by bacterial infection in the blood rather than a poisonous consequence.
By 1974, researchers had discovered that menstruation taboos are closely related to how males engage in procreative acts. In other words, the less males participate in childbirth and childrearing, the more repulsive the period becomes to them.
Period hygiene has likewise been a constantly developing product.
Johnson & Johnson launched Lister’s Towels as the first mass-produced and disposable menstrual pad in 1897. These were not your typical period pads. They were thick textile pads put within undergarments.
A few decades after the turn of the century, the Hoosier Ladies’ Sanitary Belt appeared. The belt was made up of straps that were designed to keep reusable sanitary pads in place.
Dr. Earle Haas invented the first tampon a few years later, in 1929. His inspiration came from an acquaintance who recalled tucking a sea sponge into her vagina to absorb period blood.
The adhesive sticky pads that we use now were not invented until the 1980s. They’ve been developed and upgraded since then to match changing lifestyle, flow, and shape requirements.
Period products today aim to address many of the concerns that menstrual people have faced for decades, ranging from leaks to period tracking to cost. They are also assisting in the removal of the stigma that typically accompanies menstruation. They also strive to address environmental and economical issues.
Reusable menstrual cups and period panties are examples of these goods. There are also numerous smartphone apps that can assist people in better understanding how their bodies prepare for and behave throughout their period.
Menstrual period all over the world
Much progress has been made in removing the stigma of menstruation and assisting people in caring for themselves during their periods, but there is still more to be done.
In the United Kingdom, according to a 2017 Plan International poll, one in every seven females has struggled to afford menstruation protection. Because they couldn’t afford conventional period products, more than one in ten females has had to make do with improvised menstruation wear.
Though the UK was set to eliminate taxes on tampons and other menstruation goods, Brexit negotiations had halted the final elimination of the levy. In the United Kingdom, the tampon tax was eventually repealed in 2021.
A 21-year-old lady died in Nepal from smoke inhalation after lighting a fire to keep warm during “chhaupadi.”
Menstruating Hindu girls and women in Nepal are forcibly removed from their homes and forced to sleep outside in huts or livestock sheds until their menstruation finishes. During the winter, temperatures can drop into the single digits or below, yet the huts may not be adequately heated or insulated to offer appropriate warmth.
Some women in India are forced to separate themselves in the same way.
However, not every society shuns menstruation women because of this normal cycle.
Menstruation is considered as a transition from one stage of life to the next in various parts of Africa. It’s a treasured and highly cherished experience. When a woman’s first period arrives, she is assigned to a specific hut or residence. During this period, they are joined by female family members and other women.
Meanwhile, countries such as Canada, which eliminated taxes on tampons and other menstruation goods in 2015, are attempting to alleviate the financial burden of having a period.
The United Nations (UN) observed in 2018 that the shame, stigma, and ignorance around menstruation can lead to major health and human rights concerns. That is why they labeled menstruation hygiene a public health, gender equality, and human rights problem.
This is also why the UN has included it in the 2030 Agenda. This is a 15-year plan for sustainable social and economic growth that its designers hope will aid in the abolition of poverty, hunger, and a lack of access to healthcare.