FAQS

All you need to know about Menstruation!

WHAT IS THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE?

  • The female reproductive system involves the uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes and vagina. The female hormones, estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries, rise and fall during the month and cause the menstrual cycle.

  • A menstrual cycle is the time from the first day you start bleeding (also called day 1) of one period to the day before the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. However, a cycle can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days.

SO, WHEN DO I GET MY FIRST PERIOD?

The first time a girl gets her menstrual period is called menarche and it starts at an average of 12 years. A girl can begin menstruating anytime between the ages of 8 and 16 years once all the parts of a girl's reproductive system have matured and are working together.

WHAT IS PMS (PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME )? IS IT REAL?

Yes, PMS is not a myth! Eight out of ten women do experience some discomfort shortly before their monthly period sets in.

Most common premenstrual symptoms are divided into two groups:

  • Changes in mood: depressive mood, angry outbursts, irritability, anxiety, confusion, social withdrawal

  • Changes in body: breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, headache, swelling of extremities

Medical researchers are still working on identifying the exact cause of these symptoms but it is certain that they are linked to the hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. 

WHY IS MY PERIOD LATE?

There are several reasons why your period might be late. Several  factors can cause late or even missed periods, for example medication, stress, diet or exercise, pregnancy.
In particular, young women, whose cycles are not yet so well established, often have hormonal fluctuations that can cause late or even missed periods.

IS IT NORMAL TO EXPERIENCE PERIOD PAIN?

Abdominal cramps, headaches and back pain, breast tenderness, mood swings or nausea, for many women make periods a regular misery. But you should certainly not suffer severe discomfort in silence. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider so they can investigate possible causes and ask about ways you can alleviate pain relating to your menstrual cycle.

WHAT DO IRREGULAR PERIODS MEAN?

Many women and girls suffer from irregular bleeding during their monthly menstrual cycle. Your period is irregular if it comes more frequently than 21 days, or,  35 days or more between periods, the cycle length varies greatly. Sometimes irregular periods can be caused by some medicines, exercising too much.

HOW TO REDUCE PERIOD CRAMPS?

To reduce period cramps and pain you can try the following things:
- Over-the-counter pain medicines like Paracetamol and Meftal-Spas
- Putting a heating pad on your belly or lower back
- Having a hot bath
- Distracting yourself by spending time in fun activities
If it is unbearable, please consult a Doctor to check for abnormalities.

WHAT  TYPE OF DIET SHOULD I EAT DURING MENSTRUATION?

  • Increase your intake of calcium-rich foods such as nuts, low-fat dairy products (milk, curd , paneer).

  • Avoiding salt can help reduce fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast swelling and pain.

  • Drink less coffee as high caffeine intake can cause irritability, poor sleep and menstrual cramps.

  • A healthy diet is high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fish, proteins such as legumes (Rajma, chana, dals) and eggs, and a variety of whole grains such as rice, traditional rolled oats, buckwheat flour, whole grain breads (roti), wholemeal pasta, couscous, millet or amaranth.

  • Red meat or chicken is an important source of iron and protein, especially for women with heavy periods.

  • Avoid saturated fats such as butter, cream, bacon and potato chips; limit salt and caffeine.

  • Drink more water and herbal teas such as chamomile.

IS IT NORMAL TO HAVE A PERIOD TWICE IN A MONTH?

Yes, it’s possible. Some months, your cycle may last for more or fewer days than the previous month, or it may start earlier or later than before. Sometimes, you may even have two periods in a single month. If you usually have a regular cycle, a change in your cycle could indicate a medical condition. In case of any concerns, please talk to your doctor to get individual medical advice.

IS THERE ANYTHING I WON’T BE ABLE TO DO WHEN I HAVE MY PERIOD?

Your period doesn’t have to stop you from doing things you usually do. You can still go to school, help at home, see your friends, play sports and do all the things you’d normally do.

WILL ANYONE, LIKE BOYS OR MY MOM, NOTICE WHEN I HAVE MY PERIOD?

No — not unless you tell them! If they ask you, it’s totally up to you to share or not. Even if you do, there is NO SHAME in that!

HOW MUCH BLOOD DO I LOSE DURING MY PERIOD?

Most girls lose about 1/4 cup of menstrual fluid during their periods (mostly in the first few days). Not to worry, though — your body makes up for it.

WHEN WILL I STOP HAVING MY PERIOD FOR GOOD?

Women get periods until menopause, which is when menstruation and the ability to have children stops. In most women, it usually happens in their late 40s or early 50s. But menopause can happen earlier or later. Some women may stop menstruation by the time they're 35 years old, and others may not stop until their late 50s.

WHY IS MENSTRUAL HYGIENE IMPORTANT?

Maintaining adequate hygiene during menses is necessary to stay away from infections as well as for general comfort and easy mobility.

HOW CAN ONE MAINTAIN MENSTRUAL HYGIENE?

  • Maintaining personal, period hygiene is the key to safe and peaceful menses. Without the right information for period hygiene you may end up suffering more than you need to.

  • Here are some easy hygiene tips every woman must follow:

  1. Do not use pads or tampons for long. Many women make the mistake of using a sanitary pad or tampon for a very long time. This is a potentially harmful practice. Once the menstrual blood leaves the body, it begins to decompose gradually. Keeping the used pad close to the vaginal area and skin for long periods of time exposes the area to bacterial infection and itching. Clean out the area before changing the pad or tampon.

  2. Keep the pubic area clean. Menstrual periods can be messy. It does not help if you have pubic hair that traps some of the blood as it flows out of the body. Besides, it can cause infections with inadequate daily cleaning. Before your period begins, clip your pubic hair as close to the skin as possible. When your period starts, make sure to take a wash twice a day with soap mixed in warm water. Dry out the area with a towel clean , finishing off with absorbent talcum powder to prevent chafing and rashes.

  3. Dispose used pads safely. Your used pads and tampons cannot be tossed into the trash at once. They must be wrapped in paper and put inside a plastic packet before being thrown away. Used pads and tampons carry germs and bacteria, and if left open to the atmosphere, can emit a foul odor and attract insects. If you use a menstrual cup, wash it once a day in warm water and antiseptic liquid to remove all germs.

  4. Wash your hands after changing your pad.

WHAT ARE THE SANITARY PRODUCTS AVAILABLE FOR MENSTRUATING FEMALES?

It is important to use an absorbent material to soak up menstrual blood in order to prevent bacterial and fungal infections. It is a known fact that many women use traditional cloth napkins during their period. While this may not be totally sanitary, it is not completely unsanitary either. If cleansed well and dried properly under the sun, these pads can be re-used a few times. But in most cases, this does not happen. In order to avoid the ‘shameful’ exhibition of these cloth napkins, women hide them in nooks and reuse the unsterile pads leading to infections and complications.

  • Sanitary napkin – The most widely used sanitary product is the disposable ‘sanitary napkin’. Most napkins have an absorbent core and a leak-proof barrier that holds the napkin together. These use and throw napkins are available in a variety of sizes and are by far the most popular female hygiene product in India.

  • Tampons – Unlike the sanitary napkin which is placed outside the vulva, tampons are miniature cylinders of absorbent material that can be inserted into the vagina.

  • Menstrual cups – These silicone cups can be placed inside the vagina to collect the menstrual flow. Unlike the sanitary pad or the tampon, menstrual cups can be sterilized and reused.

WHAT TO DO IN CASE A SANITARY PAD IS NOT AVAILABLE?

While opting for a sanitary solution is best, in case a sanitary napkin or a tampon is not available, a clean cotton cloth can be used to soak up the menstrual flow. The cloth should be changed periodically depending on the flow.
In case you plan to use the same piece of cloth again, make sure it is washed thoroughly, dried under the sun and stored in a clean and dry place.

WHERE CAN I GET A SANITARY PAD FROM?

Sanitary pads are available in most pharmacies and general stores across towns and cities. For rural areas lacking these facilities, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry in 2010 introduced a scheme through which subsidized sanitary pads were made available to adolescent girls. Initially 150 districts were identified. Jan Aushadhi Kendras have subsidised biodegradable pads- “Suvidha Pads” available at Re 1 per pad.