Periods is treated as the biggest taboo in India, but thanks to movies like Padman the basic aspects of hygiene are brought forward and the myths are highlighted.
In this blog, we try to put some light on the most ignored subject of Periods, different types of periods, and what all it does, it could be a good to share with someone who is going to experience it for the first time or your male partner who knows not much about periods.
Not everyone experiences periods in the same manner, for some it is the stomach being punched on the inside while for a few it could be just another day with no pain.
Is Period = Flow of blood river?
For those who haven’t experienced menstruation or period and men, in general, have this myth that during menstruation woman just bleed rivers of blood. If women did genuinely bleed rivers of blood, they will die of anaemia for sure.
Menstruation is a normal vaginal bleeding that every woman goes through for their monthly cycle. Every month a woman’s body prepares for pregnancy, but if there isn’t any pregnancy the uterus or womb shed its lining. And through the shedding of the lining, we get blood clots, blood and partly tissues from the inside of the uterus.
Is it really Niagara Falls or a leaking faucet?
Some have questions such as, Do you bleed non-stop? or Do you bleed just for 3-4 hours and rest is as dry as Sahara desert? Answers to such questions are difficult because with every woman the flow as well the process of menstruation is different. There are women who face heavy bleeding, no bleeding (Amenorrhea) or bleeding between periods (irregular period).
Types of periods
Heavy bleeding (Menorrhagia)
According to the research, one in five women bleed heavily and suffer as it interferes with a woman’s daily chores. According to some doctors, the average bleeding for a woman should be approximately 5 tablespoons and no more.
But if you are heavy bleeding then you might bleed ten to twenty-five times more than the normal quota. Heavy bleeding is a common thing to face, when you are in your teens or just started menstruation or in your late 40’s and early 50’s as you get closer to menopause. Due to heavy bleeding, one can even encounter Anaemia (loss of blood).
Heavy bleeding can be caused because of hormonal imbalance or structural abnormalities (e.g.: Fibroid s) and various medical conditions. To name a few there are:
- Blood clotting disorders such as Von Willebrand’s disease
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a bleeding disorder characterized by too few platelets in the blood
- Liver or Kidney disease
- Some kind of infections
During heavy bleeding, you cannot use one single pad for more than 4 hours you need to change it in every 2-3 hours. And women who are in their menopause stage and are still bleeding should visit there doctor as soon as they can because it isn’t a normal occurrence
No bleeding (Amenorrhea)
If there is heavy bleeding at one end of the spectrum then there is no bleeding on the other. If someone faces the absence of periods before menopause it is known as Amenorrhea. A particular woman has Amenorrhea if she hasn’t had her period for three months and the woman who hasn’t had her first period since age fifteen. There can be various causes of Amenorrhea, here are few:
- Eating disorders, especially anorexia nervosa
- Loss or gain of weight
- Hormonal problems
Bleeding between periods (Irregular periods)
Periods are said to be irregular if your cycle last longer or shorter than the average one. That is the normal cycle is of 24-38 days, so if your cycle lasts longer or lesser than this then it is categorized as irregular.
And one more thing, if your period jumps between two cycle days i.e. one cycle lasted for 28 days and another for 46 days is also considered to be irregular.
Troubles women face during periods
People have this thought process that, it is only the flow of blood women have to take care of and everything else runs as smooth as butter. Which is not the case women have to go through much more than what meets the eye.
Like here are a few of the problems or inconveniences women face during their time:
1. Menstrual cramps (Dysmenorrhea)
Occurrence of periodic cramps is not something new, women face it during periods or before periods. The difference lies between the intensity of the pain that the cramps generate in your body.
Some women breeze through their menstrual time without any kind of painful cramps but some experience a feeling of heaviness in their abdomen or a certain kind of pull in their lower abdomen or pelvic area.
When such cramps escalate to something more painful it is called as dysmenorrhea. There are two types of dysmenorrhea:
This type is the one, most women go through in their lives. The pain that women feel is caused by the contraction of the uterus to help the uterine lining leave the body during periods. Teens may get it just after their first period and for women, it gets less painful as they get older. But some still suffer from severe dysmenorrhea if they smoke or had their periods before the age of eleven or have a high level of stress.
Secondary dysmenorrhea mostly happens, if the woman is suffering from some other problem already. The main problems that may cause secondary dysmenorrhea includes:
- Endometriosis: Women face this when their lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus where it should not be growing. Hence, in response to monthly changes in the levels of the hormones (Oestrogen) the lining breaks down and bleeds outside of the uterus which further causes swelling and pain.
- Uterine Fibroids: Fibroids are tumours that grow in or on the wall of the uterus. They are this non-cancerous growth in the uterus that can develop during a woman’s childbearing years. (well most of them are non-cancerous). Women who have fibroids experience pelvic pain and have irregular bleeding through the vagina when they do not have their periods.
- Ovarian Cysts: Cysts are a solid or fluid-filled sac or pocket within or on the surface of an ovary. They usually don’t cause any symptoms but can still give trouble during ovulation or during bleeding.
If your pain can be subsided with the help of some painkillers then well and good. But if you feel severe pain and you aren’t able to control it by any means of medication you need to consult a doctor. Sometimes putting heating pads on lower back and abdomen also gives relief.
2. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Why are you so angry, are you PMSing? Don’t upset her more she is PMSing? All women are familiar with this kind of questions. When women are on periods and they express their emotions a bit stronger than normal they are asked such questions.
PMS is a term used to describe a variety of physical, emotional and psychological symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. Looking at the charts, for about 30-40% of women experience severe symptoms of PMS and the severity of the symptoms are so much it disrupts their daily life.
And doctors say PMS symptoms are more disruptive than the mild premenstrual syndrome. There are more than 100 symptoms of PMS documented. Here are a few of them:
- Anxiety or Confusion
- Swollen, Painful breasts
- Fatigue, headaches
- Mood swings and tension
- Crying and depression
But it’s still not clear on why some women develop PMS or PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, is like more of an advanced or severe type of PMS) and others do not. Some researchers say that it might be because some women are sensitive to the hormonal changes and some are not.
There aren’t any specific treatments for PMS out there. One can use various medications prescribed to them by their doctors Or if someone feels that through self-care, they are able to soothe themselves then well and good. When some of the symptoms such as depression or anxiety escalate more than you imagined and trouble your life, then you should go and seek help from therapists.
It is also known as Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is a condition where small cysts are formed on the woman’s ovaries. The cysts create hormonal imbalance and irregular periods. About 1 to 10 women with an irregular menstrual cycle have PCOS.
PCOS stands as the most common reason for infertility in women. With an experience in the abnormality of one’s period cycle, they even suffer from obesity, facial hair, acne and an increase in sex hormones. When women are targeted with PCOS they can also attract other health risks such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Elevated lipids
- Sleep apnea
- Liver disease
- Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
- High blood pressure
- Depression and anxiety
Till now there has not been found a proper treatment for PCOD/PCOS. But some doctors suggest birth control pills, hair and hormone managing pills. But many doctors suggest self-care is the best care. Most of are asked to lose weight and eat healthy, which helps in managing the body weight as well as keeps diseases in check.
Is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It occurs when some bacteria are sexually transmitted from a woman’s vagina to their uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. This disease can’t be caught easily by the naked eye because it doesn’t have any specific signs or symptoms. It might be detected later on when a woman has a problem getting pregnant and seem to suffer from chronic pelvic pain. There can be many types of bacteria that can cause PID, but gonorrhoea or chlamydia infections are the most common.
There aren’t any particular treatment to this cause. But it can be prevented from taking place by making sure that you practise safe sex, get tested to see if you have a disease that can be sexually transmitted and even ask your partner to get tested too.
With this, we have come to the end of our blog. I hope after reading this you will realise periods is just not a flow of blood but more of a serious thing. So, next time when your friend, significant other or any female is in period don’t mock her or trouble her more!!