Puberty can be a baffling period for everyone. All these changes happening at once can be incredibly nerve-wracking. However, I have found that simply knowing what is going on in the body can be extremely comforting. I have to admit that waiting for a biology lesson at school or stumbling upon an article online after spending hours worrying and overthinking is a wasted effort; thus I hope this article finds you on time and is a source of comfort for your child.
A simple understanding of the biology of periods is enough because too many details can be confusing. No need to worry — your child will begin to learn, understand, and feel more comfortable in their body.
Now, let’s dive into the science behind periods!
To start off, we need to discuss the basic structure of the uterus. The uterine lining or the endometrium is a layer of muscle and tissue that, as its name suggests, lines the inner wall of the uterus. As the menstrual cycle proceeds, the endometrium becomes thicker in preparation for fertilisation. However, if fertilisation doesn’t take place, the thickened lining sheds. Essentially, this is what periods are. The cycle is regulated by chemicals called hormones.
The menstrual cycle is approximately 21-40 days long. The ‘period’ is the phase of the menstrual cycle during which the lining of the endometrium sheds. The period lasts for about 3-7 days, depending on the person. The first day of the period is also considered the beginning of the menstrual cycle, and the cycle ends the day before your next period.
It is not unusual for your child’s period to be irregular for a few years after their first cycle. Nonetheless, if you are still concerned, it never hurts to consult a professional.
Some of the first things that come to my mind when I hear the word “period” are the various signs that indicate that my period is about to begin. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are symptoms that occur a few days prior to and during the period. They range from cramps and bloating, to mood swings and muscle pain. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable to deal with so it is important to help your child deal with their pain. Every person experiences different PMS symptoms and some may not encounter them at all.
Before I sign off, I would like to reiterate that puberty and menstruation are incredibly personal and individualistic processes and that no two people experience it the same way. Therefore, you should remind your child that they shouldn’t compare themselves to others and that they should be comfortable growing at their own pace.
See you next week,
Tihara from the REDefine Team
Featured artwork by Sanvee Jatia (Title art) and Anaanya Poddar (Diagram of the Uterus)
Laurie Ray, DNP. “The Menstrual Cycle, Explained.” The Menstrual Cycle: Phases of Your Cycle, Clue, 27 Apr. 2021, helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/the-menstrual-cycle-more-than-just-the-period.
“Mayo Clinic Q and A: Irregular Periods Can Be Common at First.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-irregular-periods-can-be-common-at-first/.
“Irregular Periods (for Teens) – Nemours KidsHealth.” Edited by Robyn R. Miller, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Dec. 2018, kidshealth.org/en/teens/irregular-periods.html.
NHS Choices, NHS, http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/fertility-in-the-menstrual-cycle/#:~:text=The length of the menstrual,to 40 days, are normal.
“The Uterus.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/science/human-reproductive-system/The-uterus.
Watson, Stephanie. “Stages of Menstrual Cycle: Menstruation, Ovulation, Hormones, Mor.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 29 Mar. 2019, http://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/stages-of-menstrual-cycle#menstrual.