Though the onset of menstruation or "periods" marks a major milestone in the lives of women all over the world, first time menstruation or "the menarche" is a life transition that is often filled with confusion and fear. As a result, many young women on the verge of crossing this threshold suffer from a number of problems. To cope with them, it's necessary to understand the basics of the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle begins with the first day of bleeding and ends at the start of the next period in the following month. The cycle usually lasts for 28 days. However, it may range from 20 to 45 days in different individuals. Regardless of the range of time in the cycle, those that occur within slightly different time frames are generally not deemed to be abnormal.
In simple words, menstruation is the event that defines the transition from girl to a woman. This means that through this process she is becoming prepared to give birth to a baby in future. Normally periods last for 5 days. However, the time range may vary from 3 to 7 days.
Now let's discuss how actually this process of menstruation takes place and where this blood comes from. The blood is actually the endometrial lining of the uterus and is shed out of the body through the vagina. After pregnancy, this lining is shed along the placenta at parturition. The pregnancy takes place only if the female egg is fertilized by a male sperm. If this happens, the fertilized cell becomes attached to the lining and starts growing into a baby. Now where do these eggs come from? Well, girls have two ovaries that have thousands of eggs in them. Only one of these thousands of eggs is released from one of the two ovaries and is either fertilized or shed out of the body along with the blood.
This process is controlled by the endocrine system and as all individuals have different body structures, it has different effects on different individuals. The process might involve headaches, cramps (Dysmenorrhea) or PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) etc. An endocrinologist must be consulted in case of any problem.