Note: Information provided on this page is for general education only, please seek medical assistance when in doubt
Menstruation is the periodic discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. This cyclic discharge is seen in and begins with the onset of menarche at or before sexual maturity and stops at or near menopause. Menstruation lasts from puberty until menopause among non-pregnant women and stopping of menstruation longer than about 90 days in the absence of pregnancy or breastfeeding may be indication of any health issues.
Regular menstruation usually lasts for 3 to 5 days, but anywhere from 2 to 7 days is considered normal. The average menstrual cycle which is counted from the first day of one menstrual period to the first day of the next is 28 days long; however a normal menstrual cycle in adult women can be between 21 and 35 days. In adolescents there is wider variation and cycles are normally between 21 and 45 days. Various symptoms such as breast pain, swelling, bloating may occur before menstruation.
The menstrual cycle involves development of a nutrient-rich lining inside woman's uterus to cushion and nourish a developing fetus should impregnation occurs. If pregnancy does not occur this lining reputes and is released in what is known as menstruation. During menstruation, menstrual fluid that consists of some blood, as well as cervical mucus, vaginal secretions, and endometrial tissue is released which is reddish-brown in color, a slightly darker color than venous blood.
Average volume of menstrual fluid released during a monthly menstrual period is about 35 milliliters with any where between 10 and 80 milliliter is considered normal. The amount of iron lost in menstrual fluid is relatively small for most women however heavy menstrual bleeding can result in anemia.
The first experience of a menstrual period occurs after the onset of pubertal growth at age around 12 to 13 however in some young girl this can even begin at an age 9 and in some can occur late in age 15. Premature or delayed menarche should be investigated. Menstruation occurs regularly in every healthy woman during their fertile age. Menstruation declines after fertile age and may occur less regularly and stop completely when a woman is no longer fertile, this is known as menopause and typically occurs between their late 40s and early 50s age.
Sexual intercourse during menstruation does not cause damage in itself, but the woman's body is more vulnerable during this time. Vaginal pH is higher and less acidic than normal, the cervix is lower in its position, the cervical opening is more dilated, and the uterine endometrial lining is absent. All these conditions increase the chance of infection and STI transmission during menstruation. Sexual intercourse may also shorten the menstrual period.
During pregnancy and for some time after childbirth, menstruation is normally suspended, this state is known as amenorrhoea.