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Menstrual Cycle / What Are Periods?

Here is a short story of menstruation, explained with the help of diagrams. You can share this with young boys and girls to teach them about menstruation.

As a girl grows old, there are a number of changes that occur in her body. She starts to feel different – physically as well as emotionally.

One of these changes is called menstruation and the monthly occurrence of this process is known as the menstrual cycle or periods. When a girl gets her period, it means that she is now a grown-up and her body can get pregnant. To understand this process, we should look at the female reproductive system that comprises of ovaries, fallopian tube, uterus, cervix, and vagina. The ovaries are the size of an almond and contain thousands of eggs that are very small in size and cannot be seen by the naked eye.

During menstruation, a thick lining called endometrium is produced on the walls of the uterus and at the same time, one of the eggs from the ovaries goes to the uterus through the fallopian tube. If this egg gets fertilized, the girl can get pregnant. In this case, the lining along with the blood stays in the uterus to provide nourishment for the growing baby; but most of the eggs pass through without getting fertilized and in that case, the thick lining and the blood are of no use and are pushed outside the body through the vagina. This is the flow that we call menstruation which lasts about three to seven days every month.

The time between each period is about 28 days. Just like everybody is different some girls are short, some are tall, some are slim and others are heavy, the menstrual cycle is also different for different girls and can be shorter for some or longer for the others at the beginning cycles can be as short as 15 days and as long as three months but they will get more regular with time. After the first year, a girl’s cycle should be regular and the bleeding should last the same number of days each time. The ideal duration of a cycle is 28 days but can vary between 20 to 35 days.

You should visit a doctor only if:

  • your cycle is not regular after a whole year
  • you are facing severe cramps
  • you notice green, yellow, or pink discharge

Click here to learn about what happens between periods and when is a woman fertile?

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