Menstrual Cycle

Starting your period can hold a lot of anxiety for some young girls, so let’s try and clear a few things up. Plus, the menstrual cycle holds the key as to how many forms of contraception actually work, not to mention the fluctuations in emotions and body changes that often go hand in hand with its various stages.

The average cycle is taken to be 28 days, however for most women their cycles can last anywhere from 18-26 days. When a girl first begins her cycle they can be a bit random and take a while to settle down into a regular pattern.

Day one of the cycle is always taken as the first day a girl bleeds and gets her period, however it is easier to explain if we start right in the middle of the cycle on day 14 – ovulation – the day a girl first releases an egg. See the flow diagram below:

Now every woman is different and will notice different side effects that accompany the various stages of their cycle. For example, some women may experience mood swings around their period. Some people will feel quite fragile or emotional, some get short tempered and snappy – for others they won’t notice anything in particular. Some women experience menstrual cramps in their belly as well, these are caused by the womb involuntarily contracting in an effort to squeeze the lining out as quickly as possible. Some women find if they sit with a hot water bottle on their pelvis, have a hot bath or eat chocolate, this can help ease the cramps, others will have more severe cramps and will have to take painkillers regularly – others won’t notice any pain whatsoever – unfortunately you have no control which way your body will react. Everyone’s different!

If you are worried about heavy or irregular periods click here for more info.

© Going off the Rails 2012. Adapted from ‘Playing Downstairs’ by Jonny Hunt

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