What is menstruation?
If you don't use a hormonal contraceptive like the pill or the hormonal IUD, you get a natural period. Your natural hormones are not affected by the hormones in birth control.
In the first part of your menstrual cycle, the endometrium prepares for the implantation of a fertilized egg.
If the egg is not fertilized, it is rejected. The body breaks down the endometrium and that causes blood loss. This is your period, also known as menstrual periods or rules.
Do I also have periods if I take the pill?
If you take the pill or another hormonal form of birth control, you get an 'artificial' or fake period.
Most people just call it menstruation or menstruation. But from a medical point of view, that's not true: those monthly bleeding during the stop week of the pill are called withdrawal bleeding.
How does artificial menstruation work?
When you take the pill, the artificial hormones stop your natural cycle. So no egg can mature and the endometrium is only built up a little bit.
During the 6 or 7 days that you stop taking the pill, there is no absorption of these hormones and the little endometrium that has built up will be broken down again.
That causes a little blood loss, but less than with natural menstruation. In medical terms, this is called a withdrawal bleed.
How long does the menstrual period last? How much blood?
On average, a woman menstruates 3 to 7 days a month. The duration of a menstrual period differs from woman to woman. But it also varies from cycle to cycle.
During that period you lose about 50 ml of blood. That is the content of a small espresso cup or 2 to 5 spoons.
You lose the most blood during the first 3 days. After that, the amount decreases.
When do you lose an abnormal amount of blood?
You usually don't have to worry about the amount of blood.
Only if you have to change a soaked tampon or sanitary towel every hour for a whole day, or if your period often lasts more than 7 days, should you consult a doctor.
What is the normal color of menstrual blood?
Menstrual blood can be pink, bright red, dark red or even brown. Blood becomes browner the longer it stays in contact with the air.
At what age does the first menstrual period come?
Girls get their first period on average around age 13. But a first menstrual period around 10 or 15 years is also perfectly normal. Read more about puberty.
Complaints before each menstrual period (premenstrual syndrome)
In the third and fourth weeks of the menstrual cycle, you can suffer from psychological and physical complaints. This is due to premenstrual syndrome.
What are common complaints before menstruation?
For example, you may be moody, feel sad, have tight breasts, feel bloated, or have trouble concentrating. This is due to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Those symptoms disappear immediately after menstruation.
Does every woman suffer from PMS?
New. It is estimated that 5 percent of menstruating women suffer from premenstrual syndrome. Most women have less or no problems with it.
PMS is more common in women who are not using hormonal birth control. Because hormonal contraception prevents natural ovulation and therefore also the associated complaints.
The symptoms of PMS worsen as you approach menopause. Symptoms disappear during menopause.
What Causes PMS?
That is not exactly known yet. But many scientists think it's due to a deficiency of certain neurotransmitters during the menstrual cycle. Hormone fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels are also thought to play a role.
Is there a treatment for PMS?
There is as yet no medication for PMS. But sometimes light exercise and relaxation exercises help. Do you suffer from many complaints, or does PMS disrupt your daily life? Then consult your doctor.