Ever wonder why menstruation is referred to as periods? In advertisements, sanitary pads, articles and in our daily lives, we often hear the word "period", which is extracted from the Greek words "peri" and "hodos". "Peri" meaning "around" and "hodos" meaning "way/path", when combined, produce the word "periodos", representing "a recurring cycle". A euphemistic approach to refer to the menstrual cycle has been spanning millennia. The average span of period differs and varies from person to person, but studies have shown that the recurring period of the menstrual cycle is 24 to 38 days. But is it really a particular time of the month for most of the menstruating population?
In the last century, conversations regarding menstruation have been on the rise, and so has research regarding its issues. According to a study conducted by NCBI, 14-25% of adult women aged 19-54 years have reported irregular menstruations. The definition of irregular menstruation isn't only confined to the aperiodic time frame between each cycle. It also refers to the irregular flow of blood, the time a period lasts, bleeding or spotting between periods and blood flow after menopause. There are three major types of irregular periods in medical terms:
Oligomenorrhea - Having periods more than 35 days apart.
Menorrhagia - Heavy bleeding that lasts more than a week.
Amenorrhea - Not having any periods for at least three menstrual cycles.
A determining factor that leads to irregular periods is stress. When we are under stress, there is an increased production of the hormone - Cortisol. Cortisol wreaks havoc on the normal functioning of our reproductive cycle. Depending on the stress level, this hormone may lead to lighter blood flow, delayed periods or no periods at all. A continued phase of immense stress, and you can potentially go without a period for a long time. In the world that we live in today, our self-worth is often defined by our successes and accomplishments. The growing stress of work and studies is affecting the mental health of the young menstruating population. Stress and anxiety at a young age lead to more serious health issues later on. Taking proper nutrition, staying active and meditating lead to regular menstrual cycles.
PCOS, or Polycystic ovary syndrome, is a common health problem prevalent in women. It is caused by the imbalanced production of reproductive hormones. Between 5% and 10% of women between 15 and 44, or during the years you can have children, have PCOS. The risk of PCOS is higher if you have family members with the condition and obesity. One of the symptoms is irregular periods. If you or anyone you know is having irregular periods, then strike up a conversation. If you observe issues and discomforts in your body, especially your reproductive organs, go to a gynaecologist. Seek the required medical attention.
We often disregard our reproductive health, thinking it won't affect our body in the long term. But that is precisely what happens. The hormones affecting our reproductive health directly correlate to our mental and physical health. Issues with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, the two most critical hormone-producing glands in our brain, often come to light when treating reproductive matters. Many people with irregular periods suffer from untreated and uncontrolled diabetes. The statistics we have today regarding menstruation and reproductive health are restricted by the societal taboos and myths surrounding the topic. After years of misogynistic approach towards menstruation, women and LGBTQ+ members have been made to feel ashamed of their bodies. We hide the simple and beautiful aspects that define our femininity. We often go to a dentist to examine our teeth and an ophthalmologist to check our eyes, but how often do we visit a gynaecologist? The goal of proper education regarding menstrual hygiene will only be established if you take the first step toward your own body.