What actually happens during the menstrual cycle?
You learn about the menstrual cycle in school, and then you think you remember everything for the rest of your life- but sometimes it is a good idea to look back over some information to remind yourself exactly what happens in the menstrual cycle and how you feel at different moments throughout your cycle.
What actually happens during your period?
The menstrual cycle is the regular and natural change that occurs in the female reproductive system, that makes pregnancy possible. This incredible natural bodily function occurs in the uterus and ovaries, whereby eggs are produced, and the uterus is preparing for potential fertilisation. The menstrual cycle is controlled by the rise and fall of certain hormones and is counted from the first day of one period (bleeding) to the first day of the next period.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, although it ranges from 21-35 days in adults and can be different for teens during the first years of their cycle. P.S. You can read our article about speaking to your teen/tween about periods here. During the cycle, the body prepares itself for a pregnancy but if fertilisation does not occur then the uterus sheds its lining, and the period begins. This then results in bleeding which typically lasts 3 to 7 days and can come with other symptoms such as cramping and bloating.
Remember, each person’s menstrual cycle is unique and differs in length, flow and intensity of symptoms. If you have concerns about your cycle or experience unusual symptoms, please reach out to a medical professional.
How much do I bleed during my period?
The amount of blood you lose during a period varies from person to person. Some people have very light cycles, whilst others experience very heavy cycles. It is also common to have varying levels throughout the different days of the period and between one period and the next. For example, your first two days are typically much heavier than the last days of the period. A typical period will produce around 30-80 ml of blood, which is a lot less than you might think you produce. Our dais period underwear can absorb up to 25ml, which is around 4 tampons worth of blood, which means that they are a very safe and absorbent product to keep you dry and leak proof all day long.
What are the hormones that change during the menstrual cycle and what affect do they have?
The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones which are produced both in the ovaries and in the pituitary gland in the brain. The main hormones are:
Estrogen: Estrogen is produced by the ovaries and is used to thicken the lining of the uterus in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur then the levels of Estrogen drop which causes the uterine lining to shed.
Progesterone: Progesterone is produced by the ovaries which helps to maintain the thickened lining of the uterus. If pregnancy does not occur, then the levels of progesterone drop which causes the uterine lining to shed.
FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone): FSH is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulated the growth and the maturation of the egg in the ovary.
LH (Luteinizing hormone): LH is produced in the pituitary gland and plays a role in the release of the egg from the ovary during ovulation.
What symptoms do you experience during the menstrual cycle?
It is common to experience different symptoms at each stage of the menstrual cycle, particularly in the days leading up to and the days during your period itself. Some of the most common physical symptoms are cramps in the lower stomach or lower back, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, nausea and fatigue. It is recommended to sooth certain pains, for example by applying heat to the lower stomach or lower back. Using dais hot & cold pack is a great way to say bye-bye to those cramps!
There are further emotional symptoms which you might experience during the menstrual cycle which vary from person to person. For example, the classic PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) symptoms are mood swings, irritability, sadness and anxiety.
What happens if my period is late?
There are many reasons why your period might be late. It could be that you have in fact fallen pregnant, but it could also be due to many other factors such as stress, changes in weight, exercise, or certain medications. It is also very normal for periods to be slightly irregular, so it does not always happen at the same time every month.
If you are unsure why your period is late it might be worth doing a pregnancy test, particularly if you have had unprotected sex. Pregnancy tests can be purchased at pharmacies, supermarkets and online.
If you are not pregnant and your period is still late it might be worth reaching out to your doctor to run some tests to determine the cause of your late period.