Updated: November 2, 2017
Period or monthly also known as menstruation is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina.
The first period usually begins between twelve and fifteen years of age. However, periods may occasionally start as young as eight years old and still be considered normal. Usually the length of time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next is 21 to 45 days in young women, and 21 to 31 days in adults (an average of 28 days). Bleeding usually lasts around 2 to 7 days. But it will usually last for about five days. The bleeding tends to be heaviest in the first two days. When your period is at its heaviest, the blood will be red. On lighter days, it may be pink, brown or black. You will lose about 30 to 72 millilitres of blood during your period, although some women bleed more heavily than this.
After menopause, which usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age menstruation stops. Periods also stop during pregnancy and typically do not resume during the initial months of breastfeeding.
The menstrual cycle occurs due to the rise and fall of hormones in your body. This cycle results in the thickening of the lining of the uterus, and the growth of an egg which is required for pregnancy. Around day fourteen in the cycle the egg is released from an ovary. The thickened lining of the uterus provides nutrients to an embryo after implantation. If pregnancy does not occur, the lining is released which is known as menstruation.
Changes in hormonal levels before your monthly period can cause physical and emotional changes. This is often known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual tension (PMT).
Common signs and symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, loss of interest in sex and mood changes. These symptoms usually improve when your period starts and disappear a few days afterwards. PMS does not affect all women who have periods.
Menstruation is managed by menstruating women to avoid damage to clothing through wearing special garments or other items. A number of different products are available which are made to absorb menstrual blood out of which some are disposable and some are reusable.
Sexual intercourse during menstruation increases the chance of infection. Vaginal pH is higher and less acidic than normal during this time. During period, the cervix is lower in its position, the cervical opening is more dilated and the uterine endometrial lining is absent. Thus it allows the organisms direct access to the blood stream through the numerous blood vessels that nourish the uterus causing infection.
A women's fertile time is around the time she ovulate, which is about 12 to 14 days before the start of her next period. However, sperm can survive inside a woman's body for days before ovulation occurs. This means your fertile time extends back earlier in your cycle.
The time when your period will start and your peak ovulation times can be calculated using an online period calendar. If you do not ovulate, you can't get pregnant.