All About Menstruation (Periods)

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Menstruation, also known as a period, is when a woman loses blood at the end of a menstrual cycle.

This typically occurs as a result of having an unfertilized egg. Each cycle, your body releases an egg. This is called ovulation and it usually happens about two weeks before your next period.

Before the egg is released, your body will prepare for pregnancy. This will happen regardless of whether you had sex during that cycle. The body prepares for a fertilized egg by thickening the lining of the uterine wall to provide a place for the fertilized egg to implant. After about 14 days, if your body has not produced a fertilized egg, it will shed the uterine lining and your menstrual cycle will begin again.

All About Menstruation

Most women have their period for three to seven days.

Can you get pregnant during your period?

Most women are fertile for up to six days each cycle, five days before ovulation and up to 24 hours after ovulation. The egg that is released only survives for up to 24 hours. If fertilization does not occur within this time the egg will degenerate.

Although it's possible to get pregnant during your period, it's unlikely. If a woman with a 24-day cycle has sex on the seventh day of her period, she could ovulate three days later and become pregnant. Although the egg only survives for 24 hours, sperm can live in your body for up to about five days

Do not discount the possibility of pregnancy just because you had sex during your period. If you are feeling symptoms that seem similar to pregnancy, such as lower abdominal cramping, spotting, breast tenderness, moodiness or a missed period, go ahead and take a pregnancy test. It is also a good idea to abstain from drinking, smoking or any other risky behavior until you know for sure.

If you have irregular periods or are not keeping track of your menstrual cycle, you may think you have your period, but you may be experiencing spotting or light bleeding between periods. This happens to some women when they ovulate, and if you do not know when to expect your period, you may mistake this bleeding for a period. Having sex during this time can lead to pregnancy.

Does a late period mean miscarriage?

There are many things that can have an impact on your cycle, and late periods happen. Even women who have 28-day cycles that usually run like clockwork can have a late period every now and again. It does not necessarily mean that you have miscarried, but there is something called a chemical pregnancy that may or may not have occurred.

What is a chemical pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy is when conception occurs, but the woman has a miscarriage before the pregnancy could have been confirmed via ultrasound. This means that a gestational sac would not have been detected on a scan. Actually, the only way you would have known that you were pregnant is if you took a biochemical test, such as an hCG blood test or a home pregnancy test, which checks levels of hCG hormone in your urine. The pregnancy changes from chemical to clinical at the point when an ultrasound can detect a gestational sac, which normally happens around the fifth week of gestation.

How can I identify a chemical pregnancy?

Since a miscarriage of a chemical pregnancy would take place so early, you probably would not yet have any pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness or breast tenderness. So for most women, a pregnancy test is the only way to know that you were pregnant. If you saw a positive result and then got your period, there is a chance that you had a chemical pregnancy. Truthfully, you may have had previous chemical pregnancies and not known about them because you were not tracking your cycle as closely or testing as early.

What causes this type of miscarriage?

It's believed that the reasons for miscarrying in early pregnancy are the same as for miscarrying later. The popular belief is that these pregnancies are not viable because of severe chromosomal abnormalities. But still, it is nearly impossible to know for sure what causes a miscarriage this early because it is impossible to sample any of the tissue for testing.

Will a chemical pregnancy affect my chances of conceiving in the future?

Any miscarriage can be devastating, but more than 85 percent of women who miscarry (regardless of when) are able to get pregnant again and have healthy babies. Your chances of having another miscarriage are about the same as any other mother-to-be: About 15 percent for any woman under 35 years of age.

Is it normal to grieve after a chemical pregnancy?

Not every woman will grieve after such an early loss of pregnancy, but if you do, know that your feelings are valid. A miscarriage is a miscarriage; so do not let anyone tell you that you do not have a right to be sad. The reason most women do not grieve over the loss is because they may not have even known they were pregnant, or it may have happened at a time when they saw a positive home pregnancy test but were waiting for a doctor to confirm the news. In other words, it may not have fully sunken in for them that they had conceived.

Amenorrhea (no period)

Amenorrhea is a symptom that refers to the absence of a menstrual period.

Two types of amenorrhea

Primary amenorrhea refers to a complete absence of a menstrual period, meaning that a woman has never had one.

Secondary amenorrhea refers to the absence of a period for three consecutive cycles. With this type of amenorrhea, the woman would have gotten her period in the past before it stopped. Secondary amenorrhea can be permanent or temporary, and it can have many causes.

Should I be worried if I miss a period?

If you miss one period, it is not necessarily cause for concern. Stress or environmental factors can cause you to skip a cycle, but in most cases, your cycle will return to normal in the next month.

This is not considered a medical condition, and it is not amenorrhea. If you are concerned, you may visit a gynecologist, but more than likely, she will tell you to monitor your condition and to let her know if you miss another period. Try not to stress over it because stress can impact your cycle.

Why does amenorrhea happen?

There is a lot that happens in order for you to get your period each month. The pituitary gland at the base of your brain signals the ovaries to secrete hormones to start the process.

Any disorder that disrupts any part of the delicate process can lead to amenorrhea. The most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy, so it is not always a bad thing! However, conditions like hypothalamic problems, anorexia or extreme exercise can also play a role - especially in secondary amenorrhea.

Primary amenorrhea may also occur from the same issues, depending on the stage in life when these issues take place, but more commonly stems from a genetic or anatomic condition.

Can taking the pill cause amenorrhea?

This is not a silly question because experts previously thought that taking the pill might increase a woman's chances for developing amenorrhea.

Fortunately, this has been found to be untrue.

It is certainly possible for a woman to stop taking the pill without returning to normal cycles, but there is usually another reason. For example, a woman may be underweight or over exercising and experience amenorrhea that just happens to be found after the pill is stopped.

When should I seek medical treatment for amenorrhea?

It is never a bad time to visit the doctor if you have missed a period. She will probably run a pregnancy test, and then may even take a "wait and see" approach, but there is no reason to wait if you are concerned about a missed period.

You may just find that pregnancy is the cause - and it would be much better to know this sooner rather than later. If you are pregnant, you may need to eliminate some bad habits or risky behaviors, and you will also need to start taking a prenatal vitamin.

Have a question? Please leave a comment below.

New Join the Discussion!

  1. Kate Aug 25, 2016
    I have a question. What could be the cause of my menstrual flow starting heavy, then on the third day, flowing to midday then stopping? Then it will start to stain later in the evening of the fourth day. The colour is a brownish stain. Then on the fifth day, it is very light reddish and watery. It will start gushing out. What could be the cause?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Talk to our doctor about irregular period concerns. Good luck! - (Aug 27, 2016)
  2. Mirian Sep 11, 2016
    Please, can postinor 2 change your menstrual cycle to heavy flow and twice a month? Please, I need your answer.
    1. Christina (OC Team): You should ask your doctor any questions you may have about your symptoms and medication taken. - (Sep 12, 2016)
  3. Marieth Sep 28, 2016
    My period started on Tuesday of last week and stopped on Friday. When can I expect pregnancy to occur? I have been trying for the past six months to conceive. I think I'm not getting it right, and I need your help.
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you create an account at and log your cycle dates, you will get a prediction of your fertile window. These are the estimated days when you should try to conceive. Good luck! - (Sep 28, 2016)
  4. Carlissa Sep 28, 2016
    My cycles have been off lately. I went from 28 to 26 to 30 in my last cycle. Is there something wrong with my cycle that should make me see a doctor? Idk what else to think or do. But I figured I'd ask here before I go in. Thank you...
    1. Christina (OC Team): Cycles can change for various reasons. If you're concerned, you should talk to your doctor. Good luck! - (Sep 28, 2016)
  5. Tonia Oct 02, 2016
    Why do I test positive to blood pt test but negative to urine test. But I still get my monthly period on the exact date. This has been happening for over a year.
    1. Christina (OC Team): This could happen if the HCG levels aren't strong enough to be detected through a urine test. Blood tests are more sensitive. How long ago did you receive the positive results? - (Oct 02, 2016)
  6. Kristina Oct 02, 2016
    Do you count the first day of your period the first day red blood appears rather than spotting?
    1. Christina (OC Team): Yes, log the first day of red blood. - (Oct 03, 2016)
  7. Tola Oct 02, 2016
    My cycle should be 26 days, but I noticed it on 7th of Sept instead of 8th. Now I'm expecting on the 2nd of October, but saw it on the first of Oct towards evening. Does it make my cycle irregular or what? How do I start counting to know my fertile period? I'm trying to conceive.
    1. Christina (OC Team): I'd suggest that you start logging your cycles to take a closer look. You can enter them into your account here to track your cycles. - (Oct 03, 2016)
  8. Grace Oct 08, 2016
    I was feeling pregnant with symptoms like dreams, headaches and fervent peeing just days after sex, but my period came 2 days before the normal time. At first it was brownish and pink, The next day it was red and heavy like my normal period, but it does not look normal. Yesterday, I started having pain in the left side of my stomach down to my back. Even up to this morning, as the period is drying up, the color is changing and this has not happen before. I am really scared. What could be the problem? Should go for a blood PT?
    1. Christina (OC Team): If you're concerned with abnormal bleeding and pain, I'd suggest going to the doctor. Good luck! - (Oct 09, 2016)
  9. Edna Oct 10, 2016
    I have a 24-day cycle and my period came on the 1st of Oct. It ended on the 5th. When is my fertility day and when should I stop having sex because I am trying to conceive.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Log your cycle dates into your account here and you'll get a prediction of your fertile window. There is no need to stop having sex when you're trying to conceive. Good luck! - (Oct 10, 2016)
  10. Hellen Oct 19, 2016
    I started my mestration on Wednesday and it stopped on Friday. When is my ovulation period? Thanks.
    1. Christina (OC Team): Create an account here and log your cycle information for a personalized prediction. - (Oct 19, 2016)

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