The topic of puberty is often ignored. However, when talking about teen health, it is one of the most important topics. Some manifestations of puberty are often followed by a lot of stigma, one of which is menstruation. Puberty is a natural part of a woman’s growth and it is important to be educated on it as well as talk about the controversy it brings.
In order to even begin talking about puberty for young women, we have to talk about the period. A period is a cycle in which the uterus lining sheds causing blood to exit through the vagina. This is a result of the changing hormones at the end of puberty and an unfertilized egg. If the egg is fertilized you will not experience a period, you instead would experience pregnancy. The average age is anywhere from about ten to fifteen years old. The typical length of a period is usually four to seven days but all menstruation schedules are different. Now you may be asking yourself, how much blood occurs during a period. The answer to that is yet again that it varies between women. The average amount of blood loss tends to be a few tablespoons each cycle. A woman can have a heavy or light blood flow depending on their lifestyle. Most people who keep active and avoid stress tend to have a lighter and shorter flow rate. However, the opposite occurs for the contrasting lifestyle. How you take care of yourself greatly affects how your period affects you.
Symptoms of Periods
A period is not simply bleeding through the vagina. Many periods have other symptoms that complicate the menstruation process. These symptoms can include, but are not limited to muscle aches, cramps, fatigue, and bloating. Muscle aches can cause pain throughout your entire body making it hard to walk and take part in daily activities. Accompanied with cramps it can be pretty hard to do daily activities. Cramps have been known to be extremely painful to the lower portion of your stomach. All of which can cause your body to feel extremely worn down and tired, also known as fatigue. While you usually hear this word while talking about working out it can apply to underlying diseases and menstruation. On top of feeling tired from endless hours of pain during your cycle, you can also tend to feel and look extremely bloated. Being bloated looks as if your stomach is swollen. Bloating is usually caused by an excess of built-up gas or movement of muscles. All of these symptoms make the period process extremely difficult. However, some periods experience the bare minimum of these symptoms, if any at all. A period is unique for each person and adjusts based on their lifestyle.
Symptoms of Periods II- Applying Cramps to Life
Period symptoms can make day to day life extremely hard, in some cases impossible. It can put you out of work or school and make your favorite activities seem less intriguing. The most talked-about symptom is cramping. Many cramps can be soothed with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or heat however some cramps are unimaginably painful even with those remedies. In fact, one
woman at age 14 said “my lips had gone grey. Everyone was convinced I was having a miscarriage, they didn’t believe it could just be period pain.” Later she was taken to the hospital and they didn’t believe that it could just be menstrual cramps, they told her “that what [she] was experiencing was like labor contractions” which are extremely painful. Cramps at that amount of pain should be checked out by a doctor. Whether it is a part of life or not no one should be sitting in hospitals every time they have their period. Other women have said their cramps have felt as if their appendix burst or as if they were being squeezed to death with no mercy. Women who do not have painful cramps still have irritable and unsettling cramps. Period cramps can start a few days prior and can also continue two to three days after your cycle. Cramps aren’t something everyone experiences however they can be tough to handle on a day to day basis during your period.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a condition that occurs in ninety percent of women. It begins eleven to five days before a period and can create very difficult emotional and physical situations. The symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome are acne, bloating, sore breasts, mood swings, irritability, migraines, depression, anxiety, and many more. Premenstrual Syndrome can be caused by many things, some of which are hereditary and others personal. Premenstrual Syndrome can run in your family through depression, mood disorders, or simply through a history of the condition. It can also be caused by traumatic experiences, both physical and emotional, such as domestic violence and substance abuse. Many mental health disorders are also linked to premenstrual syndrome. Most people who have premenstrual syndrome do not get it diagnosed simply because they are unaware they have it. It is talked about so often by women it has been perceived as normal. Premenstrual Syndrome can be treated at home through consuming fluids and a balanced diet, taking supplements, and sleeping the recommended amount for your age group. The severity of premenstrual syndrome can lessen through healthy life choices, however, if you’re seeking better results you should see your doctor. Premenstrual Syndrome can return for each cycle; it typically stops when your period begins.
Hormones are chemicals within your body that work together to control your organs and cells. They are often produced, controlled, and released by different glands. The three most well-known and important hormones during menstruation are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Estrogen is a female sex hormone that helps with the growth of your body as a whole. The hormone contributes to the growth of breasts, pubic hair, armpit hair, and hips. Estrogen also regulates the growth of the uterine lining, which is what is being shed during your period, to help protect a baby if you are pregnant. It is one of the most important hormones when talking about puberty for women. Progesterone is another female sex hormone that works closely alongside estrogen to ensure it’s levels are balanced. Progesterone makes sure the
uterine walls are not too thin or too thick. If you are not pregnant then progesterone will initiate menstruation. Testosterone is another sex- hormone for both men and women. It keeps your muscle mass and strength at regular levels during ovulation and right before menstruation. However, if a woman has testosterone levels that are too high acne, excessive facial hair growth, and infertility may occur. Changes in hormone levels can create changes within your body and mood, which is why puberty is such a big change in a person’s life.
Periods around the world
Around the world, the reaction is quite different from place to place. In some countries, a period is accompanied by feelings of pride and honor. In these countries, women are often frequently pregnant. These women can see their periods as a time of purification. Some women in different countries get time off from work, school, and domestic responsibilities. These women are celebrated and appreciated as if they are queens within their family and community. Some even receive gifts during their cycle. On the other hand, there are countries that look down upon the natural menstruation process. Some countries will not allow women on their cycle to take part in religious activities or engage in any form of sexual intercourse. Women can be placed in huts with women who breastfeed their children, and in some cases, these huts can be torturous or shameful. In these countries, they believe the blood exiting the vagina is filled with toxins and bad bacteria. Even in the United States, the word period is followed by an uncomfortable setting. Some people are embarrassed to talk about it in public and others completely avoid the topic regardless of the situation. While those reactions are not nearly as extreme as other countries they are still absurd. Despite where you are or where you come from, a period is the process of growth for a woman and is completely natural.
In the United States, the stigma and hate towards periods is mediocre compared to other countries. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have room to improve. The misogyny against women, in general, has gotten better but the talk and opinions on periods have not. In fact, there was a social experiment done recently by Rupi Kaur on Instagram. She had posted a picture of herself on her platform with a visible period stain. After it was taken down, because it went against community guidelines, she posted it again. Instagram had taken it down, for the same reason, once more. On top of this post is taken down, other bigger labels had also noticed this sort of reaction against periods such as Cosmopolitan. These situations brought up many questions in the community. Most of which were as simple as why things were the way they were about periods, especially when women were showing off their bodies as they pleased on the same app. After all, the stigma against periods is simply confusing if you’re just looking at the facts. Kaur also brought attention to the fact that blood was promoted by the majority during horror movies and thrillers even though most people looked down upon publicizing periods even after considering it was also just blood. If you look at everyday period stigma the reactions are the same. Girls are constantly afraid of talking about their periods in public or to men in general. There’s also a lot of period fears that wouldn’t happen if everyone accepted the natural cycle
such as bleeding through, not having any of the necessary items, or being judged, shamed, or labeled while on their period. Overall period stigma is pretty unnecessary and needs to be put to an end. There is truly no reason to make a female feel insecure or ashamed about something that is not in her control and completely natural.