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#13: Ruby Red AKA Menstruation



Class in session ladies! A lot of us are very familiar with this gift, curse, or however you want to look at it (lol) which it is menstruation. But why did I call it Ruby Red though? Lol It’s a funny story how that name came up but I know a lot us has special and yet funny names to call our periods like “Aunt Flow”, “T.O.M”, “Mother Nature”, “Bloody Mary”...do you have a name for it as well? But let's switch gears and talk about one of the main things that biologically makes us a woman.

 

What is Menstruation?

Menstruation is a woman’s monthly bleeding, often called your “period.” When you menstruate, your body discards the monthly buildup of the lining of your uterus (womb). Menstrual blood and tissue flow from your uterus through the small opening in your cervix and pass out of your body through your vagina.


During the monthly menstrual cycle, the uterus lining builds up to prepare for pregnancy. If you do not get pregnant, estrogen and progesterone hormone levels begin falling. Very low levels of estrogen and progesterone tell your body to begin menstruation.


What is Menstrual CYCLE?

The menstrual cycle is the monthly hormonal cycle a female’s body goes through to prepare for pregnancy. Your menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of your period up to the first day of your next period. Your hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) usually change throughout the menstrual cycle and can cause menstrual symptoms. The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but each woman is different. Also, a woman’s menstrual cycle length might be different from month-to-month. Your periods are still “regular” if they usually come every 24 to 38 days.3 This means that the time from the first day of your last period up to the start of your next period is at least 24 days but not more than 38 days.


Some women’s periods are so regular that they can predict the day and time that their periods will start. Other women are regular but can only predict the start of their period within a few days


How do I keep track of it?

You can keep track of your menstrual cycle by marking the day you start your period on a calendar. After a few months, you can begin to see if your periods are regular or if your cycles are different each month.


You may want to track:

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms: Did you have cramping, headaches, moodiness, forgetfulness, bloating, or breast tenderness?

  • When your bleeding begins: Was it earlier or later than expected?

  • How heavy the bleeding was on your heaviest days: Was the bleeding heavier or lighter than usual? How many pads or tampons did you use?

  • Period symptoms: Did you have pain or bleeding on any days that caused you to miss work or school?

  • How many days your period lasted: Was your period shorter or longer than the month before?

  • You can also download apps (sometimes for free) for your phone to track your periods. Some include features to track your PMS symptoms, energy and activity levels, and more.


Ovulation

Ovulation is when the ovary releases an egg so it can be fertilized by a sperm in order to make a baby. A woman is most likely to get pregnant if she has sex without birth control in the three days before and up to the day of ovulation (since the sperm are already in place and ready to fertilize the egg as soon as it is released). A man’s sperm can live for 3 to 5 days in a woman’s reproductive organs, but a woman’s egg lives for just 12 to 24 hours after ovulation.


Each woman’s cycle length may be different, and the time between ovulation and when the next period starts can be anywhere from one week (7 days) to more than 2 weeks (19 days).


At different times in a woman’s life, ovulation may or may not happen:

  • Women who are pregnant do not ovulate.

  • Women who are breastfeeding may or may not ovulate. Women who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor about birth control methods if they do not want to get pregnant.

  • During perimenopause, the transition to menopause, you may not ovulate every month.

  • After menopause you do not ovulate.


How do I know that I’m ovulating?

A few days before you ovulate, your vaginal mucus or discharge changes and becomes more slippery and clear. This type of mucus helps sperm move up into your uterus and into the fallopian tubes where it can fertilize an egg. Some women feel minor cramping on one side of their pelvic area when they ovulate. Some women have other signs of ovulation.

Luteinizing hormone (LH) is a hormone released by your brain that tells the ovary to release an egg (called ovulation). LH levels begin to surge upward about 36 hours before ovulation, so some women and their doctors test for LH levels. LH levels peak about 12 hours before ovulation.1 Women who are tracking ovulation to become pregnant will notice a slight rise in their basal temperature (your temperature after sleeping before you get out of bed) around ovulation.


Resource:

“What Your Menstrual Cycle Says about Your Health.” Womenshealth.gov, Office on Women Health, 16 Mar. 2018, https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle-and-your-health.



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