MENSTRUATION- THE GIRL CHILD AND SOCIAL STIGMA
MANAGING THE BLEEDING CYCLE
Menstruation. Non-violent bleeding. Howso?
Hormones responsible| Phases| Maintaining proper health and hygiene| The girl and Social attention.
How true it is for every girl child to first become a doctor at the onset of puberty; getting familiar with the feminine jargons of puberty hence menstruation.
Menstruation/ Period is the natural cycle of blood flow through the vagina, owing to the shedding of the uterine walls due to an unfertilized ovary. It occurs throughout a woman’s reproductive life, from puberty (menarche) to terminate at menopause; except during pregnancy. It is vaginal bleeding caused when an egg released is not fertilized by a sperm, so it breaks open and pours out.
During such a cycle, the body requires stimulatory effects from certain hormones to perform functions and these hormones are:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
- Estrogen and Progesterone (pregnancy hormone).
Their functions are explained in their phases.
The menstrual phases are named after their hormones; the first phase which marks the beginning of the blood flow.
- First Phase (Follicular Phase): estrogen and progesterone levels are low at the start of this phase causing the walls of the uterus (endometrium) which are usually thick with fluid and nutrients to nourish an embryo if eggs are fertilized, and if not, it sheds off and bleeding occurs. The follicle-stimulating hormone, secreted by the pituitary gland- the master gland, acts to stimulate the development of 3 to 30 follicles in the ovaries which contain one egg in each follicle. On the development course, one follicle becomes dominant, producing more estrogen which prepares the uterus. This phase lasts 14 days after the flow. It is regarded as the safe period within which no egg is released for fertilization, and tends to become shorter after menopause which explains the beginning
of good riddance at 51. It ends with an increase in luteinizing hormonal surges which releases an egg for ovulation; the next phase.
- Second Phase (Ovulatory Phase): Begins at the luteinizing hormone surges which force the ovary to rupture therefore releasing an egg. This is the most fertile phase which lasts 16 to 32 hours; the egg can be fertilized for about 12 hours after its release. Common fertility tests are simply tests for the level of the luteinizing hormone in the urine.
- Last Phase (Luteal Phase): Here the ruptured follicle in the ovulatory phase closes forming the Corpus Luteum which are yellow pigments formed by cells from the minor follicles. The Corpus Luteum is responsible for the production of progesterone (the pregnancy hormone) which prepares the uterus for any planted embryo.
Its other functions are to thicken the endometrium in provision for the embryo, thickens the mucus in the cervix to reduce the risks of sperm or bacteria entering the uterus, etc. Estrogen is increased alongside progesterone levels, causing the breasts to swell and become tender, and if the egg is not fertilized, the Corpus Luteum degenerates after 14 days, estrogen and progesterone levels are decreased; a new cycle begins.
Another hormone present in this phase is the Gonadotropin which acts only when an embryo is planted. It maintains the production of progesterone until the fetus can produce its own hormones. Pregnancy tests are simply medical expectations and comparisons on an increase in the human chronic gonadotropin level.
Periods are undoubtedly natural, but amidst those natural and routinely instincts that come with such expectation, there is need to maintain proper health and diet which controls effects as fatigues, irritability, irregular hunger periods, headaches, pain, etc. These can be managed in two ways:
- Healthy diet and routine: the general rule is to avoid salty foods and less caffeine intake, keeping a healthy diet, regular exercise, reducing stress, etc.
- Maintaining proper menstrual hygiene: change your pads every 4 hours, clean reusable pads thoroughly, keep your vaginal area clean, stick to one pad at a time and changing regularly as flow increases, wear clean and comfortable underwear, etc.
There is a need to educate the society on the girl child nature and social presence and to end the stigma such presence attracts in some cultures. It should be called by its very name “menstruation” which is not in any way offensive and not trying to euphemize it with homographs as “period and flow” period.