So the other day, I was at the health care centre to complain about some abdominal cramps and I was confronted with the biggest revelation about myself! So the doctor asked for my menstrual cycle and I was dumbfounded!!! You need to have seen the look of horror on her face upon realizing that I’m 23 and I do not know nor understand my menstrual cycle…..
Then, I discovered as I wasn’t the only ignorant one, some of my friends didn’t know it too and one even said “na any time I see am, I see am”. So I decided to share with you ladies and I hope you had a fruitful week.
What is menstruation?
One thing worthy of noting is the fact that menstruation goes way beyond the sight of the blood. There are a whole lot of hormonal, physiological changes that occur in the body before the spotting of blood. Menstruation comes after hormonal changes and most importantly, ovulation. It is discharge of blood through the vaginal opening following the disintegration of the egg.
What brings about menstruation?
So when a female child is born, she is born with two OVARIESand thousands of immature eggs (this is the female sex gamete, just as it is sperm for males). But these eggs are arrested at an immature stage and remain dormant till she attains puberty. Upon puberty, the secretion of hormones begins. These hormones such as the follicle stimulating hormone, progesterone,oestrogen help develop the secondary sexual characteristics both physically and psychologically and also continue or say, reignite the development of the eggs. These eggs begin to develop and mature via a process called MEIOSIS.
After this process, a mature egg is released via a process called OVULATION. This egg is called “THE GRAAFIAN FOLLICLE”. This is what we call the “EGG” or “OVUM”. This EGG is the major FACTOR OR PREREQUISITE for menstruation to occur. This mature egg is released from the ovary and travels to the fallopian tube where it awaits its fate.
The fate of the mature egg depends solely on one occurrence “FERTILIZATION”.This is the fusion of the male sex gamete (sperm) and the female sex gamete (ovum) to form ZYGOTE which is the beginning of life pregnancy. When fertilization occurs and this happens in the fallopian tube and moves down to the uterus, there’s pregnancy and as a result, there is no menstruation. When there’s absence of fertilization, there will definitely be menstruation.
The uterus, also known as the womb, is where an unborn child is housed, upon the release of the Graafian follicle; the uterus begins to prepare for the reception of the zygote (i.e. it expects fertilization to occur). It replenishes the layer of skin in it and adds more layers and blood vessels to the comfort of the incoming zygote.

Let’s take a quick look at this illustration. You are highly expectant of a very important visitor. You change the sheets, put up new curtains and repaint the house. You’re all excited and giddy and definitely was disturbed from your comfort zone. Then, you receive a notice of the cancellation of the visit. Definitely, “ANGER” is an understatement of the series of emotions you’d experience. This is exactly how it happens to the uterus. In a fit of “rage”, the uterus pulls down all the new linings and skin called the “ENDOMETRIUM”.  It sheds this skin and this comes out through the vaginal opening as the MENSTRUAL BLOOD.
THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
The entire process explained above averagely takes place within 28 days in a woman that has already passed the stage of puberty. This is just an average calculation. It varies greatly in every woman. Statistics have shown that some women have up to 35 days as their menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle is the period from the end of one menstrual period to the beginning of another menstrual period. It is impertinent and compulsory for a female to be aware of and be able to calculate her menstrual cycle.
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE
To calculate your menstrual cycle, mark the first day of your period as DAY 1. Then, take note of when the next period after that begins. Count the total number of days between i.e. between the first days of each period. This is your menstrual cycle. It is ranged to be between 22-34 days.
OVULATION DAY AND SAFE PERIOD
These are two notable periods in between the menstrual cycle. They both serve s indicators for different purposes.
Ovulation period
The ovulation period is the midway between the menstrual cycle. It represents half of the days. It is calculated by counting 12 to 16 days from the next expected menstrual period, for those that already know their menstrual cycle or counting 12 to 16 days from the first day of the last menstrual period. It is the day of ovulation i.e. when the mature egg is released from the ovary. It is also called FERTILE PERIOD because sexual intercourse during this time increases the chance of pregnancy.
Safe period
This is the opposite of the ovulation period. During this period, sexual intercourse most likely would not result in pregnancy. It is usually 5 days before ovulation date and the third day after the ovulation date till the end of the cycle.

These periods and cycles are quite important to know so as to help prevent and also sense whenever there’s a menstrual problem. Oh yes! There are menstrual problems!.
Menstrual problems
These include:
·         AMENORRHEA: this is a condition in which there’s no menstrual bleeding even after the onset of puberty and when fertilization doesn’t occur.
·         DYSMENORRHEA: this is when there’s severe menstrual cramp accompanying the menstruation.
·         POLYMENORRHEA: this is also called “multiple menstruation”, in which menstruation occurs more frequently than normal.
·         MENORRHAGIA: this refers to when there is severe and prolonged menstrual bleeding.

So, I hope you found the information provided in this article very useful and you will ensure not to be embarrassed like me.

MARY J