ABOUT PERIOD

Women experience a monthly cycle called menstruation or a period. The lining of the uterus breaks down and leaves the body through the vagina. This has a range of effects on the reproductive system and other organs.

Young girls are often between 8 and 15 years old when they experience their first period.

What is a menstrual cycle?

A menstrual cycle doesn’t just refer to your period: It’s the whole shebang, starting with the first day you get your period through the time your ovaries release an egg (ovulation) and your uterus builds up a soft, spongy lining just in case that egg gets fertilized (i.e. you get pregnant). It’s normal for your cycle to be different from your friends’ or even your sister’s—a cycle can go from 21 days to more than 35, though 25-30 is the sweet spot for most people—and it’s not even always the same from month to month.

Why do you sometimes get heavy periods?

Switching out a super plus tampon every single hour? We’ve been there. But if that starts becoming a regular occurrence, consider making a doctor’s appointment. Here’s why: When you lose an excess of blood, you can end up developing anemia because your iron levels dip and can’t keep up with what you’re losing. Some experts recommend eating more iron-heavy foods in the days surrounding your period or even taking iron supplements. If you make adjustments and are still feeling wiped out, get thee to the gyno and figure out if there’s an underlying issue.

What are period cramps?

Period cramps happen when your muscles are contracting to break down the tissue that has built up in your uterine lining, and then expelling that tissue from your system after. Over-the-counter meds like can help, as can light exercise, sleep, soaking in a hot bath, and placing a heating pad on your lower back and abdomen to help soothe your muscles.

What is an irregular period?

A period is considered irregular if it lasts longer than seven days, or occurs less than three weeks apart. Know that your period will fluctuate throughout your life, and everything from stress to weight loss to getting on or off the pill might throw your flow off its game. But if you ever feel like something really isn’t quite right, make an appointment with your doctor. Keep an eye on when the pattern of your period changes, and take note if you miss a period more than three times a year or you have the signs of an irregular period. Also, notify your doc if you’re bleeding more than usual or experiencing a different type or level of pain.

HISTORY OF PERIODS

Usage of rags and pieces of cloth as pad by women dates back to ancient times. There are still some places in India mainly rural areas where rags are still used. The Union Health Ministry launched  150-crore scheme last month to promote menstrual health among rural adolescent girls.

 Approved by the National Rural Health Mission, the scheme’s first phase will cover 150 districts, targeting 15 million girls between 10 and 19 years of age. “Women in most villages use dirty cloths during their menstrual cycle. Sometimes the same cloth is shared by more than one woman,” said Sudha Tewari of Parivar Seva Sanstha, a nonprofit in Delhi that has studied menstrual hygiene in villages. “In Rajasthan, some women use sand bags. Such unhygienic methods cause diseases, including reproductive tract infection,” she added.

The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 report shows that the use of Sanitary Napkins among Indian women is 48.5% in rural, 77.5% in urban and 57.6% total. As per existing published research across India, the usage of Sanitary Napkins among rural Indian women ranges between 35% to 57%.