What Women Should Know About Periods (That Most Probably Don’t Know)


Once your period starts, knowing what's going on in your body - and why - can make a huge difference in how you perceive and even manage it.

So, let's look at the facts.


The facts


Your (women’s) period, or menstruation, occurs once a month. It usually starts when you're 11 to 14, but can also start around eight or nine, and some girls don't start having their period until around 15 or even 16.

Periods are your body's way of telling you it's ready to have a baby. Don't worry, that doesn't mean you want or need to get pregnant, just that you can.

Your period is part of a monthly menstrual cycle that lasts between 21 and 35 days, with 28 days being the average.

When you start to have your period, it may take a while for your cycle to regularize. You may find that they vary in length and are few and far between at first.


So, what is the menstrual cycle?


Well, first, your uterus develops a mucous membrane - the endometrial lining - to prepare for receiving a fertilized egg. When ovulation occurs, one of your ovaries releases an egg, which then passes through one of the fallopian tubes to the uterus.

It takes several days for the egg to travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus. If on the way to the uterus, the egg meets a sperm, it can be fertilized, and you can get pregnant. If the egg is not fertilized, the body expels the egg, uterine lining, and blood, which is your period.

Bleeding begins about 14 days after ovulation, and lasts an average of 3 to 5 days, with the heaviest loss occurring in the first two days.

Then the complete cycle begins again. This cycle repeats 400 to 450 times (yes, really), until menopause around age 50 when your period stops completely.

You probably already that about periods and the menstrual cycle. However, did you know:

  • 11 to 14 years old is the age group when most girls have their first period
  • 400 to 450 times- that’s the average number of menstrual cycles in a lifetime
  • 50 years is the average age when the menstrual cycle stops.


Why do women have period pain?


One of the most unpleasant parts of your period is period pain. Many women experience pain or discomfort before or during menstruation, the main cause of which is the contraction of the uterus to shed the lining of the uterus.

This pain, similar to cramps, is usually felt just before your period, for one or two days. The pain can be localized in the pelvis, back, thighs, or stomach. They usually start just below the belly button and spread to the thighs, then in the opposite direction.

The intensity of these menstrual cramps varies from woman to woman. In some cases, the pain is moderate. In others, it can be very intense and even lead to vomiting. Other symptoms may include headache, loose stools, and dizziness. Nothing very encouraging, therefore.

By figuring out how to make menstrual cramps go away, women will see their period in a whole new way. While most fail to ignore them completely, a few simple steps will nonetheless help to alleviate them.


Managing period pains


Although you may not necessarily want it very much at these times, exercising even just walking can stimulate blood flow, increase oxygen levels, and release more endorphins (natural painkiller and well-being hormone).

Moreover, massage and heat will also help relax muscles, so a hot bath, or holding a hot water bottle against you can help and is recommended.

Eating ice cream can also help - not medically, but by boosting your spirits. All of this helps the body to relax.


Why do you gain weight before your period?


A few days before her period, it is possible to observe a slight weight gain. What are the causes? Why are we more hungry and want to eat more fat and sugar? What to do?

Read on for insights and advice you should know about all that.


What are the causes of weight gain before your period?


While bloating, fatigue, headaches, and breast swelling are well-known symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a condition that affects a woman's emotions, physical health, and behavior during certain days of the menstrual cycle, generally just before her menses, there is one that is less talked about: weight gain.

During menstruation, and just before, the body undergoes many variations which return to normal thereafter. Weight gain is not inevitable and has its origin in various factors:


Water retention

Water retention is due to the estrogen-progesterone imbalance whereby water is no longer eliminated properly. It leads to weight gain and a feeling of being 'bloated', mainly in the legs. This can happen a few days before your period or as early as the middle of your cycle. It is usually accompanied by breast tension and mood disorders.


The constipation

Bloating and constipation are added to water retention. In question, progesterone tends to slow down the digestive system and therefore to constipate. When we are constipated, we eliminate stools less.

However, during this period, we eat more and we evacuate less, it is for this reason that we gain weight. More rarely, some women get diarrhea during their period.


A greater appetite

Under the influence of hormones, many women find that they are more hungry than usual with sugary compulsions during and just before their period. As a result, they eat more, which undoubtedly leads to weight gain.

However, it is a vicious circle since, during this period, we are attracted by fatty and sugary foods that promote water retention.


Less sport

The pre-menstrual period being particularly exhausting, we have less desire to play sports. Still, sport helps eliminate and regulate mood. You should therefore try, as much as possible, to practice physical activity to stay in shape and limit weight gain.


Weight gain before your period: what to do?


Weight gain before menstruation is one of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. This can be treated either by giving progesterone in the second part of the cycle or by taking homeopathic or herbal treatment. which will help rebalance the cycle. In essential oils, there are also dedicated compositions that work very well.

To limit weight gain, you can also reduce your water intake a little, eat less salt and less sugar. A varied and balanced diet, the practice of physical activity as well as the control of its stress make it possible to attenuate this phenomenon.


Can women swim when they have their period?


Swimming during your period is perfectly doable. Yes really. Moreover, it is very effective in reducing cramps and premenstrual symptoms and it's good for your morale!

As the sanitary towels are ultra-absorbent, they should certainly not be used in the swimming pool, because they will absorb a large quantity of water. It’s not only unsightly, but it's also unhygienic.

The best option is to use a pad when going for a swim, for discreet and secure protection. Put on a new tampon just before you jump in the water and you'll be fine.

If you are worried that the tampon will absorb water, just change it soon after getting out of the water. Change your protection after swimming and there is no need to worry.

If you're on a beach, make sure you have a cafe or restroom nearby, so you can change your tampon easily. If you are in the middle of nature and there are no toilets nearby, it may be necessary to hide behind the bushes or improvise with a parasol.

Either way, don't think that swimming during your period is impossible. Just make sure you are prepared and have spare protection on you.


Myths and realities of swimming during your period


Myth 1: Periods stop when you enter the water. 

Truth: No, no. Blood may not come out of the vagina due to the pressure of the bathwater, but the bleeding will not stop.


Myth 2: The pelvis will turn all red.

Truth: Neither. The tampon absorbs the blood, so there won't be a “red cloud” around you.


Myth 3: Sharks will attack if you are on your period.

Truth: Contrary to popular belief, sharks cannot smell the blood of the rules and decide to bite you!

Samdeesh Puri is the owner of Divine Life Science, a pharmaceutical company that produces a herbal uterine tonic for women’s health.