Health

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle: Care and Hygiene Essentials

Introduction

Menstrual cycle is an essential physiological process occurring in most female individuals beginning from the stage of puberty to menopause age. It can often be linked with various symptoms like cramps, shift in mood, and some level of differences in hygiene.This list sums up all the important information that a woman would like to have regarding the phases of the menstrual cycle, its working, symptoms, and menstrual care.

Here you will be informed about the stages of your menstrual cycle.

The menstrual cycle is not exactly 28 days as initially perceived, but ranges from 21 to 35 days in the majority of females, which is about 90 percent. It involves both ovulation and menstruation and has 4 main phases:Is coupled with menstruation and is about four phases which include;

1.Menstruation Phase

This phase defines the onset of the cycle and is characterized by bleeding, which lasts between two to seven days. This is because the uterus separates its layers when there is no pregnancy. The bleeding is of brownish color and comprises the shed off tissue lining the uterus and blood.

The main symptoms experienced in this phase include muscle contraction, swelling, aching, tiredness and altering moods due to hormonal swings. Some women may experience more blood loss than others and the severity of cramps may differ as well. It is essential to consult a doctor if one experiences heavy bleeding lasting beyond seven days or more.

2.Follicular Phase

This phase officially starts on the first day of menstruation and on average, it lasts for 13 days. Throughout this period, the pituitary gland secretes follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in your body to develop 3-30 follicles in your ovaries. These follicles support the eggs and as seen one of the follicles and the egg within it will keep growing while the other follicles and eggs will degenerate.

Estrogen levels also begin to rise during this phase, resulting in improved mood, higher energy levels, and altered sensitivity to pain, as well as possibly increased lust preceding ovulation. The amount of estrogen raises also to encourage the build up of the uterine lining for a possible pregnancy.

3.Ovulation Phase

The final phase is the shortest, though it may take anywhere between 24-48 hours, on average. It is delineated by the shedding of a mature egg in the ovary from the dominant follicle at day 14 of a 28 day cycle. The egg is released from the ovary and now is on the Fallopian tube.

So, many women experience what is called ovary twinge or cramps around ovulation, which is a kind of uncomfortable pain that may be light. A slippery fluid with the consistency of egg white, known as fertile mucus, is also created during this phase with the aim of enhancing the survival of sperms.

If you have unprotected intercourse, you are most likely to get pregnant if it happens a day at most five days before or on the day of ovulation because sperm can survive. Ovulation tracker apps should best be used when a woman is ready to get pregnant or when a couple is not ready to have a child through use of other methods of birth control.

4.Luteal Phase

This phase occurs after ovulation and takes about 14 days of a cycle that has 28 days on average. The follicle that yielded the egg metamorphoses into the corpus luteum and begins production of progesterone with estrogen. It is also known to assist in preparing the uterus for a possible implantation of a fertilized egg.

This phase lasts until the end of the cycle and has a relatively low concentration of progesterone if there is no pregnancy, thus causing PMS symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, cramps, and tender breasts. Ovulation occurs followed by shedding of the endometrium through menstruation thus beginning a new cycle.

 

Changes in Periods and Other Signs

Each woman realizes that she has her menstrual cycle, thus, it is essential to know what may be changed and need to be examined. Apps like Flo, Period Tracker, and Clue allow you to log details like:Some of the apps include; Flo, Period Tracker and Clue, where you can log such characteristics as:

– Cycle length- beginning of day one in the period

– Fertile mucus – The mucus during the female fertility cycle becomes thin and slippery during ovulation Best time to have sex – The cervix becomes soft and changes its position during ovulation.

– The intensity of the flow level defined as light, medium, and heavy each day

– Supple – small, large in the event of menstruation

– Some of the Crash symptoms include cramps, headaches, mood changes among others.

 

To receive proper advice on your period you should go to a gynecologist if you experience the following: Irregular cycles if they are shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days, a sudden change in the flow level and pain, and if you have not had a period for 90 days this may be due to PCOS, endometriosis or thyroid disorders among others.

 

Managing PMS Symptoms

A recent survey reveals that 80 percent of the menstruating people testified to having such mild PMS sights as mood swings, pain, acne, and breast pain 7-14 days to the onset of menstruation. Here are some ways to alleviate common symptoms:Below are the ways to reduce some of the symptoms:

– Cramps – Place a heating pad on either the stomach and lower back areas. Take some medications like ibuprofen to help alleviate the pain.

– Water retention & fat – reduce intake of this product before and during the cycle. Eat small, frequent meals.

– Cravings – In this case, consume yogurt, bananas, and nuts but reduce your intake of sweets.

– Emotions: Do some self-care tasks, get some light exercise such as walking.

– Fatigue – When you are feeling tired do not overexert yourself instead ensure you take a nap or sleep well. Stay hydrated.

– Backaches – Gently massage down the spine. Hot and cold packs should be used as soothing.

– Headaches – If you can’t escape them, try some OTC medication to alleviate the symptoms and also make sure to drink plenty of water.

If some symptoms interfere with daily functioning significantly, consult with your doctor about possible pharmacological ways to prevent the variations before the start of the menstrual cycle.

Most women prefer using commercial pads, but it proves costly and ineffective in the long run; the following are some tips and best practices regarding the menstrual period.

 

One is well advised not to touch the part during that time as this assists in the achievement of cleanliness and also protects the genital area from infections. Follow these essential menstrual hygiene practices:

1.Carry spare pads/tampons and keep changing them every 4-6 hours.

Wearing a pad, tampon or menstrual cup that is already soaked beyond the recommended level for too long creates a breeding ground for bacteria in the vulvar areaIt can cause such diseases as the toxic shock syndrome or skin allergies due to the unhygienic conditions created by the lack of attention to personal cleanliness. Better still, the pad or tampon should be changed every 4-6 hours to reduce chances of getting an infection or the skin becoming too sensitive.Yes, you can wear a tampon at night but pads are more soaky and leak-free during the nights than a tampon.

2.Make sure to clean the Intimate Area During Changes

When replacing day-use feminine products or when passing urine, wash the outer part of the genitalia with water and a mild, unscented soap to avoid the build-up of odours and bacteria in other areas of the vulva or vagina such as the perineal region, labia etc. In this case, ensure that you clean the front part after the back without rubbing hard to minimize the spread of the germs from the anus.

3.Choose The Right Absorbency

Failure to choose the right absorbency level causes one to wake up with soaked sheets or dress and in other cases dryness which is uncomfortable. To reduce bulkiness, employ lighter absorbency pads/tampons when you are either at the beginning or toward the end of your menstrual period when there is less discharge. This is especially important when the baby is going through the ‘heavier wet days’ so that flooding and leakage doesn’t make you change clothes and dump your favourite linens. The super versions generally can clamp 5 to 12 teaspoons of the blood depending on the type of the instrument.

4.Avoid Using Douche and Perfumes

It is advisable that no scented washing, rinsing or deodorant gels or sprays are applied on the genitals during menstruation. The other tissues in the vagina have a natural healthy acidophilic pH with yeast which is interfered with thus increasing chances of getting an infection. Avoid using normal body wash because most of them contain fragrances, instead use a wash that is made for the vulva area.

5.Give Yourself a Break

Period fatigue is real. Understand your body and listen to it during your period – take more naps, eat what you crave, do less exercise, and if you can afford it, then skip school or work. Before saying ‘yes’ to any chore, responsibility or task, ask someone else to take care of your children or do some household work if you feel that this would give you the strength to go on. The more one takes care of herself/ himself, the more likely he/she will recover when the cycle ends.

 

Cleaning Stains and Leaks

In some occasions even when women try their best they still end up leaking during their periods, this leads to soiling of clothing or bed sheets. Here are the cleaning tips that may help you:

– Treat the fabric with cold water as immediately as possible because hot water sets blood stains before washing.

– For new blood stains, you add a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to help wash out the fresh stain before washing it in the wash machine.

– For set-in stains, first try to scrub the garment with a stain remover paste in order to make the stain more manageable in the wash.

– Cold salty water rinse is another good way to try when you have dried or old blood stains on your garments.

– Common stains such as bright red marks on mattresses can easily be cleaned by hydrogen peroxide and then cold water.

– Hydrogen peroxide or enzyme cleaner for the light staining on the furniture or rug and beware of coloured materials because they might get bleached.

Go to your doctor immediately if you ever find gray, green or black clots because those may not only be blood but also the tissue of your vagina. Those cases may need detailed examination to exclude tumours or structural changes.

 

Feminine care and hygiene products options

Thanks to innovation, women and menstruating individuals now have access to a wide spectrum of period management products:

1.Pads

They are the basic type of feminine hygiene product and the most easily recognizable one meant to collect menstrual blood. These are fixed on the underwear and they are made from layers of absorbent material and leak guards. They are individual sanitary wipes that are disposable or washable fabrics that need washing. It operates outflows with dimensions for coverage differentiated for different flow levels that options provide.

2.Tampons

These are those which are used and placed within the vagina to soak the flow instead of using those which are strapped to the outer surface of the body such as pads made from compressed cotton, rayon, or a blend. It accommodates discharge as it is absorbed and the applicator easily inserts it as the material expands. A string is attached for easy removal of the flask. It is advisable to change it often to minimize the chances that one will get exposed to bacteria or other pathogens.

3.Menstrual Cups

In the folded and inserted position, silicone or rubber cups gather flow as opposed to absorbing it, making them the reusable option for the environment. They should also fit your cervix height to be comfortable to hold and minimize spillage. They are longer lasting and can hold over 3 times the amount of a pad or tampon which lasts for 4-12 hours.

4.Period Underwear

Leak-resistant panties enable you to feel comfortable and do not use pads or liners as the modern backups, especially in the days with less intensity. The gusset is coated with new age fabrics with enhanced absorbency to offer coverage without friction or excessive mass.

Conclusion

I hope this guide gives you more than enough information on how to deal with your menstrual cycle without any discomfort and manage your feminine hygiene well. Normalizing periods by knowing what is considered ‘regular’ for your body, having data from a period app, and adjusting your personal care when in certain stages of menstruation can greatly improve the experience.

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