The menstrual cycle is the regular natural change that occurs in the female reproductive system (specifically the uterus and ovaries) that makes pregnancy possible.The cycle is required for the production of oocytes, and for the preparation of the uterus for pregnancy.Up to 80% of women experience some symptoms during one to two weeks prior to menstruation.However, these symptoms are severe in 3% to 8% women.
The menstrual cycle is governed by hormonal changes.These changes can be altered by using hormonal birth controlto prevent pregnancy.Each cycle can be divided into three phases based on events in the ovary (ovarian cycle) or in the uterus (uterine cycle).
Phases of the menstrual cycle
The four main phases of the menstrual cycle are:
the follicular phase
the luteal phase.
How can you keep track of your menstrual cycle?
To find out what's normal for you, start keeping a record of your menstrual cycle on a calendar. Begin by tracking your start date every month for several months in a row to identify the regularity of your periods.
If you're concerned about your periods, then also make note of the following every month:
End date.How long does your period typically last? Is it longer or shorter than usual?
Flow.Record the heaviness of your flow. Does it seem lighter or heavier than usual? How often do you need to change your sanitary protection?
Abnormal bleeding.Are you bleeding in between periods?
Pain.Describe any pain associated with your period. Does the pain feel worse than usual?
Other changes.Have you experienced any changes in mood or behavior?
What causes menstrual cycle irregularities?
Menstrual cycle irregularities can have many different causes, including:
Pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Eating disorders, extreme weight loss or excessive exercising.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries.
Premature ovarian failure. Premature ovarian failure refers to the loss of normal ovarian function before age 40.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).This infection of the reproductive organs can cause irregular menstrual bleeding.
Uterine fibroids.Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual periods and prolonged menstrual periods.
What can you do to prevent menstrual irregularities?
Eat ahealthy dietthat includes plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, good protein sources, and good sources of calcium.
Exercise.try walking for 30–40 minutes, 4–6 times per week. Consult the physician before starting any exercise program.
Getenough sleepeach night so that you wake up feeling well-rested.
During your period, change feminine care products (e.g., pads) at least every 4–8 hours.
Avoid orlimit caffeine.
Eatsmaller, more frequent meals(e.g., three small meals and three snacks).
Talk with a physician aboutvitamin or mineral supplementsthat may help with premenstrual symptoms.
Reduce saltintake just before your period to lessen bloating and swelling.