Your answers to sexual and reproductive
An initiative of CyberSansar & Health Support Systems for Youth Awareness
One night, I was sleeping and I found myself wet. I lit the lamp and I found blood was all over my undergarments. Firstly, I was scared and I cried loud. I called my mother and related my painful woes. My mother was terrified and she asked me where I was bleeding from. As I sobbingly narrated her, she stood smiling in the shade of the dark night. She then hugged me and warmed me with her words, "Chori,you are woman now." But, why do I have to bleed to become a woman?
Every girl goes through this situation during their first menstruation cycle or period. Do you know exactly what menstruation is and have you ever been told about this by your family members? You must have hundreds of questions regarding this natural process.
There are hundreds of questions that you have asked me in this short span of time and I feel that every one of you have to be answered. The problems that you have asked during these days have similarities to one another. Thus, I thought of setting some frequently asked Question FAQ section. Most of the problems that you have asked have been solved here. If you feel that it’s not enough, you are always welcome to ask.
1. I am 15 years old. Isn’t it late to get periods as most of my friends have already had periods?
Everybody goes through puberty at different speeds. Some girls begin menstruating as early as age 8 or 9; others don't get going until they're 15 or 16. It all depends on your hormones — and your family. Want to guess when you'll get your period? Ask when your mom and grandmothers (from both sides of your family) started theirs. When you start puberty is partly linked to genetics. So although there's no guarantee that you'll follow in their footsteps, your relatives could give you a pretty good clue about your own period.
One thing that can delay puberty — and your period — is excessive exercising, usually distance running, ballet, or gymnastics, combined with a poor diet. For exercise to be excessive, it means more than just playing soccer for a couple of hours, a few times a week or working out once in a while with an exercise tape. To exercise so much that you delay your period, you would have to train vigorously for several hours a day, most days of the week, and not get enough calories, vitamins, and minerals.
Unless compulsive exercise has postponed your period, there's nothing you can do on your own to hurry things along. If you haven't started to menstruate by the time you're 16, consult your doctor. He or she will probably do a pelvic exam and take a blood test to determine the hormone levels in your body. Then the doctor may prescribe hormones to jump-start your cycle.
2.Are there some signs that say that one is about to get her first period?
It’s very hard to tell you exactly about the exact date and how will it come or it will occur during daytime or night. It happens to every healthy girl in the world. One day, maybe soon, you will begin to bleed from your vagina. It will be your period — the first of many you will have in the course of your life. Having your period is also called menstruation. It's a sign that you're growing up. It means that your body is healthy and normal. Here we are trying to make narration on the whole process and how to tackle that.
Do you know that the first time you have your period has got special name. It’s known as Menarche (men-NAR-key)
• Menstruation is not a "curse" or a "punishment."
• Losing normal menstrual blood doesn't make you weak.
• Menstruation doesn't need to put you in a bad mood.
• Menstruation doesn't mean being "sick" or "unclean."
• Women can enjoy sex while they have their periods.
• It is possible to become pregnant before your first period.
• It is also possible to become pregnant when you are bleeding. It could be spotting after ovulation instead of your period.
• It is possible to become pregnant from vaginal intercourse during your period.
• Menstruation has nothing to do with "bad blood."
• You don't need to stay in bed on the first day of your period.
• Cold drinks, showers, or baths do not cause menstrual cramps.
3.What is the normal cycle?
Periods usually last from three to seven days. The flow usually starts light. It can get heavy for two or three days, then get light again until it stops. It often starts off a rusty color, and then gets redder. It lightens to a rust color again until it stops.
A normal menstrual cycle can be as short as 21 days or longer than 35 days. Changes from month to month are also normal. Some months you may have no period, especially during the first year or two. Your health can make a difference. Too much exercise or very strict dieting, for example, can use up all your body fat. You might not have periods if that happens. Stress can make a difference, too.
Most girls and women don't feel ovulation when it happens. They don't know for sure when it actually occurs. They may feel some pain in the lower abdomen. Ovulation takes place around the middle of each menstrual cycle. Many girls mark a calendar with an X on the days they bleed. For most women, periods will happen every 25–30 days.
Keeping a calendar will help you predict when you will bleed again. It will help you know when you are going to need sanitary pads or tampons. Also, you'll be able to know if your period is late or early. And you'll have a record if you need to see your clinician about any health problem.
Inside cycle of period
So, what is actually happening inside your body each month? It’s all about hormones. The changes associated with the menstrual cycle are brought on by fluctuations in hormones at different times of the month. The menstrual cycle can be divided into the following parts: the ovarian cycle and the uterine cycle.
• The ovarian cycle involves changes in the ovaries, and can be further divided into three phases:
• The follicular phase is the time from the first day of menstruation until ovulation, when a mature egg is released from the ovary. It’s called the follicular phase because growth or maturation of the egg is taking place inside the follicle, a small sac where the egg matures.
• Ovulation occurs around day 14 of the cycle, in response to a surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) when the egg is released from the ovary.
• The luteal phase is the time from when the egg is released (ovulation) until the first day of menstruation, when you get your period. It is named after the corpus luteum (Latin for "yellow body"), and is a structure that grows in the ovary where a mature egg was released at ovulation.
• The uterine cycle involves changes in the uterus. It occurs in tandem with the ovarian cycle, and is divided into two phases:
• The proliferative phase is the time after menstruation and before the next ovulation, when the lining of the uterus grows and thickens.
• The secretory phase is the time after ovulation.
Let’s look at what’s happening during each of these phases and when they occur throughout the menstrual cycle. The timing of these phases can vary depending on the number of days in each woman’s menstrual cycle.
4. Some of my friends say that they get irritated, some say they feel weak before they get periods what is all that? Can one say when it’s coming?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the term for the physical and emotional symptoms that many girls and women get right before their periods begin each month. If you have PMS, you might experience:
• sore breasts
• food cravings
• depression or feeling blue
• difficulty concentrating
• difficulty handling stress
PMS is usually at its worst during the 1 to 2 weeks before a girl's period starts, and it usually disappears when her period begins.
Doctors have not pinpointed the exact cause of PMS, but it seems to be linked to changing hormone levels. During the second half of the menstrual cycle, the amount of progesterone (a female hormone) in a girl's body increases. Then about 1 week before her period starts, levels of both progesterone and estrogen (another hormone) drop dramatically. The thinking is that these different hormone levels can lead to PMS symptoms. There are also theories that what you eat can affect how you feel, especially during the couple of weeks before a girl gets her period.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to ease PMS symptoms. Eating a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and cutting back on processed foods like chips and crackers can help. You might also want to reduce your salt intake (salt can make you retain water and become more bloated) and, believe it or not, drink more water. Say no to caffeine (it can make you jumpy and anxious) and yes to certain vitamins: B-complex vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin E are thought to be helpful. Also, daily exercise and stress-relief techniques like meditation can help some girls.
When it comes to medicine, over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen can relieve achy heads and backs. But for really serious PMS pain, see your doctor. He or she might be able to prescribe a different medicine or birth control pills to help with many of your PMS symptoms.
5. Why Do I Get Cramps?
Lots of girls have abdominal cramps during the first few days of their periods. Cramps are most likely caused by prostaglandins (pronounced: prass-tuh-glan-dunz), chemicals your body produces that make the muscles of the uterus contract. The good news is that cramps usually only last a few days. But if you're in pain, medicine like ibuprofen may help.
Exercise may also make you feel better, possibly because it releases endorphins, chemicals in the body that literally make you feel good. Soaking in a warm bath or putting a warm compress on your stomach won't make your cramps disappear but may help your muscles relax a little. If you have severe cramps that keep you home from school or from doing stuff with your friends, visit your doctor for advice.
6. My Period is irregular. Why?
It can take up to 3 years from the time a girl starts menstruating for her body to develop a regular cycle. Even then, what's regular varies from person to person. Girls' cycles can range from 21 to 45 days.
Changing hormone levels might make your period short one month (such as 2 or 3 days) and more drawn out (such as 7 days) the next. You might skip a few months, get two periods almost right after each other, have a really heavy period, or one so light you almost don't notice it. (If you're sexually active and you skip a period, though, you should visit your doctor or a women's clinic to make sure you're not pregnant.)
All this irregularity can make planning for your period a real hassle. Try to keep track of when your last period started, and guess that about 4 weeks from that day you could be due for another. If you're worried about wearing that cute dress and suddenly starting your period at school, just make sure you pack protection. Carry a pad or tampon in your bag, and wear a pantiliner to handle the first wave.
When it comes to periods, every girl's body has a unique (and unpredictable) timeline for getting on track. If your period still has not settled into a relatively predictable pattern after 3 years, or if you have four or five regular periods and then skip your periods for a couple of months, make an appointment with your doctor to check for possible problems.
7. When do I have to think I have to see doctor?
1. You have not started your period by the time you are 16. This may indicate that you have a problem that requires medical attention.
2. You stop getting your period or it becomes really irregular after it has been regular for a while (like 6 months or more). This can be a sign that you may have a hormone imbalance or a problem with nutrition, which can harm your body if left untreated
3. You have very heavy or long periods, especially if you have a short cycle and get your period frequently. In rare cases, lots of blood loss can cause anemia (iron deficiency) and leave you feeling really weak and tired.
4. Your periods are really painful. You might have endometriosis or benign growths that should be removed. Or if you're sexually active, you might have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
8. How do we use Tampons and pads?
Here are some tips to make using pads and tampons easier:
• When you first use a tampon, have someone show you how to correctly place it in your vagina. Ask your mother, older sister, or another woman you trust to help you.
• Putting a tampon in your vagina shouldn't be painful. But it may hurt if you are not relaxed. Use unscented tampons with soft, tube-shaped applicators when you first begin.
• Change your tampon or pad every three or four hours to prevent odor, stains on your clothes, and possible vaginal infection.
• Don't use "high absorbency" tampons throughout your period — check the label for how absorbent the tampon is.
• Use cold water and soap to remove any stains that get on your clothes.
• Don't flush pads down the toilet. They'll clog it up. Wrap them in toilet paper and put them in the trash.
• You can flush tampons but not applicators. Throw applicators away in the trash.
• Some health care providers advise using pads instead of tampons while you sleep.
Sometimes women who use "high absorbency" tampons all day and night during their periods become ill. This happens when bacteria that are sometimes in the vagina grow too much. This rare illness is called toxic shock syndrome. Stop using tampons if you vomit and have a high fever, diarrhea, and a sunburn-type rash while using one. Tell your parents immediately and see a doctor or clinician right away.
9. Do cycles stay with girl’s life long?
Periods stop while women are pregnant. In time, your period will stop for good. Usually, it stops when a woman is between 45 and 55 years old. This is known as "the change of life" or menopause.
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