You know your period occurs once every month and sometimes comes with cramping and various other symptoms. You’re also aware that if you miss your period, you’ve likely taken in. But there’s so much more you still don’t know about this amazing work of nature
And it’s important for women to learn more about their bodies. This includes your period, as it’s an essential part of your femininity.
So, come along as we explore some facts you probably don’t already know about your period.
9 Facts about your period you didn’t know
1. You can get pregnant just after seeing your period
Wait! What? But yeah, there’s a chance for you to get pregnant if you have sex during your period. Seeing your monthly visitor doesn’t give you 100% protection from pregnancy. For two reasons.
Firstly, you may have an irregular cycle at any time such that you ovulate during your period or just a few days after it. Sperm can live inside your body for up to 5 days. So if you have unprotected sex during the last days of your menses, there’s a big chance a live sperm will meet with the egg released during ovulation.
Secondly, some women “spot” — bleed a little — during ovulation. If you mistake this for your period and have unprotected sex, the chances of pregnancy again are high.
2. The period you get when on the pill isn’t an actual one
If you’ve ever been on the pill, then you probably must have wondered how you still saw your period after all. Well, the period you got wasn’t a true one. By “true,” it means there was no egg. Birth control pills prevent ovulation — the release of mature eggs — but do not prevent the uterus lining from thickening. So when it’s time, the lining sheds, leading to bleeding.
3. Never trust your monthly clock – it changes
Your menstrual cycle may be 30 days for some years and then become 28 for the next few years. Generally, periods tend to get shorter as you age. A teenage girl may see her monthly visitor every 33 days and then every 28 days when she turns 25. (These numbers are for illustration purposes).
Although changes are expected, a missed period or overly heavy bleeding isn’t. Talk to your doctor if you notice such.
4. Painful periods aren’t normal
You’ve been told being a woman comes with some menstrual discomfort. That’s not untrue. Some pain, cramping, and discomfort during your period are normal. But what if the pain becomes excessive that you can’t focus in class or at work? Now, this isn’t normal.
Painful menstruation is known as dysmenorrhea. It becomes advisable to get menstrual relief by taking some medication a few days before your menses to numb the pain. If you have a condition like endometriosis or fibroids, you may want to see the doctor as they can cause very painful periods.
5. No one knows what exactly causes PMS
Not even the doctors. Although Premenstrual syndrome seems to be a normal woman’s physiology, experts still find it a mystery. They do put it down to a mixture of different hormones rushing during your menstrual cycle as your body approaches the end of the cycle. But still, they can’t exactly pinpoint what causes PMS.
The effect of PMS includes cramping, mood swings, bloating, and headaches 1-2 weeks before your menses and may continue even after it starts. Emotional issues such as depression and other physical or physiological challenges may make the symptoms more profound.
However, you can ease things by taking menstrual relief measures, exercising, and stopping some lifestyle habits like smoking.
6. Later menstruation has been associated with better health
If you were worried you were the last among your mates to get your first menstrual flow, there’s good news for you. A study from the University of California found that women who get their first period after age 12 have better overall health than others that got theirs earlier.
If they get into menopause later in life, say at the age of 50, they also have a greater chance to reach 90. No specific reason has been found for this, but the research studied 16,000 women for 21 years, and 55% lived over 90.
7. Your period is more than just blood
While all your nerves are inclined to believe your period is purely blood tissue, they’re actually wrong. Your menstrual flow often pushes out vaginal discharge that has been lurking around in there, waiting for something to flush it out. Other less healthy things like yeast infection and bacteria also make their way out during this time. But that’s not all.
The red tissue you see is not just blood but also contains endometrium — the inner layer of the uterus that sheds — and an unfertilized egg.
8. Menstrual symptoms are not always the same every month
You may have noticed how different your menstrual cycle feels each month. Sometimes, your body doesn’t tell you your visitor is on its way. Other times, you get tender breasts, mood swings, and cramping right before it starts.
Sometimes your menstrual flow is heavier, and sometimes you don’t even need any menstrual relief because you can’t feel any pain. It’s all part of a normal period.
But worry when:
- Your period doesn’t come after Day 35
- You need to change your pad almost every hour
- You have severe menstrual pain
- Your period is unusually light and stops after a couple of days
- Your period lasts more than 7 days.
9. You can get an idea of what’s normal by tracking your period
Although your period will often trick you by changing its heralding symptoms from time to time, keeping a record for 3-4 months can get you acquainted with what’s normal. This is about what you’re likely to experience even though other things change.
The following things should be on your radar when tracking your period:
- The first and last days of your period each month
- How heavy the flow is
- How often you need to change pad/tampon
- Mood swings
- Spotting between periods
- Presence or absence of blood clots.
There is so much about your body you may not yet know. But hopefully, this article has shed light on some questions you may have pondered concerning your period.