Menstruation, commonly referred to as a period, is a part of the fertility process for vulvas. Once a cycle, the lining of the uterus prepares the possibility of pregnancy by filling the lining with thick and rich blood vessels. This rich lining provides support to a fertilized egg to begin growing into a fetus.
Menstruation is the shedding of this lining if conception doesn’t happen during that cycle. Most vulva people get periods on average every 21 to 35 days. During the cycle, an average of a few tablespoons of blood is shed, although it can often look like a lot more.
When Do Periods Start?
People start menstruating when they reach puberty. For most people, this can be anywhere from age 10 to 15. There isn’t one right time and everyone is a little different. The first period is often accompanied by other signs associated with puberty.
One of the most common signs is vaginal discharge. The discharge appears on the person’s underwear and can resemble a white mucus. This discharge usually starts occurring roughly six months to a year before the first period. It is among the first stages of a vagina maturing and beginning the natural self-cleaning process that is part of a healthy adult vulva.
Are There Irregular Periods?
Once the first menstruation occurs, it may not always occur regularly. As a person moves through puberty and changes in hormones, it’s normal for menstrual cycles to be a little irregular in the first few years.
Irregular periods can also be caused by fluctuations in health. Menstruation occurs when the body is healthy and at a good weight for a baby to grow. If a person’s body weight is too low or if their health is compromised in some way, they are more likely to experience irregular periods.
Irregular periods can also be caused by a medical condition. People with polycystic ovary syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, or premature ovarian failure will experience problems with their menstrual cycle.
People experiencing irregular periods may experience some or all of the following
- Heavier or lighter than normal bleeding
- Missing a period
- Unpredictable timing month to month
- Bleeding lasting longer than normal
- Different PMS symptoms
- Periods coming early or late
What is PMS?
Premenstrual symptoms, or PMS, is a group of symptoms that people commonly experience before their period begins. The symptoms are caused by the physical and hormonal changes in the body. They can range in intensity and severity and will vary from person to person as well as month to month.
PMS typically starts anywhere from 3-5 days before menstruation and can last until the end of the period. Symptoms can include
- Sore breasts
- Lower back pain
- Food cravings
- Mood swings or irritability
- Abdominal or pelvic cramps
- Increased acne
Menstruation is a Natural & Healthy Part of Life
Periods are a natural and healthy part of life. Lots of people get embarrassed by the thought of menstruation but there is no reason to be. It’s a normal part of becoming a healthy adult and an important part of fertility.
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