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Menstruation is the bleeding you experience when your body shreds the lining of the uterus.  This usually happens every 28 days at the start of the menstrual cycle, and lasts for three to five days.  Girls usually get their first menstrual cycle during puberty between the ages of eleven and fourteen years.



What is a typical menstrual cycle like?
The menstrual cycle is the series of changes that a women’s body goes through to prepare for a possible pregnancy.


There are four phases of the cycle, these are:

  • Menstruation
  • Follicular phase – this phase runs from the first day of menstruation until ovulation. During the follicular phase a hormone is produced which stimulates the ovaries to produce follicles which house immature eggs. The lining of the uterus also thickens during this time to prepare for pregnancy.
  • Ovulation – ovulation is when the ovary releases a mature egg. This occurs about mid way through your cycle.
  • Luteal phase – is a 14 day phase in which the ‘corpus luteum’ (a structure which grows on the surface of the ovary) produces the hormone progesterone in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, menstruation follows.



Common menstrual problems
Irregular or painful menstruation can be an indication of a health problem. If you are concerned about your menstruation, it is recommended that you contract your local Health Care Professional for advice.


Common menstrual problems include:

  • Premenstrual syndrome – also known as ‘PMS’, premenstrual syndrome occurs in the lead up to menstruation and can present with a range of symptoms including acne, mood swings and food cravings.
  • Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder – approximately 5% of women experience debilitating PMS which prevents them going about their normal activities, this is known as ‘premenstrual dysmorphic disorder’.
  • Amenorrhoea – is the absence of menstruation. This often occurs in women who are very underweight, overweight, or undertaking excessive exercise.
  • Dysmenorrhoea – painful periods which can caused by an overproduction of certain hormones or by medical conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids.
  • Menorrhagia – very heavy menstrual flow which can result in iron deficiency anaemia.



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