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What is Menstruation: Symptoms and the Menstrual Cycle

Menstruation, periods, or monthlies is a biological process that occurs in women’s bodies each month. It is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue shed from the inner lining of the uterus. The period blood is discharged through the vagina.  

Menstruation is one of the parts of the menstrual cycle, wherein the lining of the uterus is shed. The menstrual cycle experienced by every woman is one of the important preparation processes for your body. A woman‘s menstrual cycle occurs due to hormonal changes. It means menstrual cycle hormones changes can affect body functions. It is important to know about this significant change in the body of a girl who enters puberty as other changes in the body also happen.

At What Age Does Menstruation Start?

Typically, Menstruation is expected to start around the age of 10-16 years when girls enter puberty. However, it is not uncommon for girls to get their periods earlier at the young age of 8 or 9. Getting their periods at such a young age can be emotionally and mentally challenging for young girls. While there are no abnormal causes for it, aspects such as body weight, ethnicity, genes, and activity are important contributing factors.
Conversely, in some girls periods can get delayed based on factors such as health problems, changes in an exercise routine (too much exercise), stress, hormonal imbalance, and so on. Consulting with doctors is necessary if any changes in periods are seen in cases of early periods or late periods.

Menstruation can also happen before or after the actual time of menstruation when there is some kind of sudden change in weather conditions, food habits, exercises, and so on. Such changes which happen immediately can result in unpredictable periods at any point in time.

Top 10 symptoms of menstruation

While dealing with symptoms of a period of menstruation, it can be seen that some changes in the overall functioning of your body which involves physical and emotional aspects take place. The symptoms of PMS seen in women going through the menstrual cycle vary from person to person based on various aspects. Some people may face irregular menstruation which could arise as a result of long menstrual cycles. PMS symptoms before the period are also bound to happen based on each person depending on their health, body functions, and other factors. The top 10 symptoms of menstruation are the following:

symptoms of menstruation

What is Menstruation: Symptoms and the Menstrual Cycle?

  • Abdominal cramps

One of the common symptoms of your period is abdominal cramps which can happen continuously at different intervals of time. Period pain that arises due to abdominal cramps can happen mildly in some and severely in others based on your body functions and other aspects.

  • Breakouts

Another common problem that comes up during the time of periods is acne which is seen more in women due to hormonal changes. The breakouts concerning periods come only during that time of the month which is one of the signs of rising hormone levels.

  • Tender breasts

Breast pain is a common symptom experienced by women where tenderness or pain is felt in the breasts. As breasts become sore or heavy, there are chances where you may feel breast pain which is also another result of the hormonal changes in the body.

  • Fatigue

Period fatigue seen in most women during menstruation can turn into a series of tiredness that can come up even before menstruation begins and remains until completion. This fatigue is connected to hormonal changes you experience during the period of menstruation.

  • Bloating

Water retention is another major issue during menstruation when you feel bloated and gassy. This bloating is also a hormonal change that can be controlled by reducing the consumption of salt and increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables. Regular exercises are also found to be effective during the time of the menstrual cycle.

  • Bowel issues

Digestive systems tend to fall to extremes when your period arrives. You can feel constipated or have faced other such bowel issues. Bowel issues are also commonly seen during menstruation as hormonal changes have an impact on certain other body operations and functions.

  • Mood Swings

As hormonal changes continue to happen, changes will be reflected in physical period signs also which can further affect your emotions. Such emotional changes are often deemed to be mood swings which are one of the most common symptoms seen in women.

  • Headache

The changes seen in the estrogen level can cause headaches during menstruation and even before the period begins. It is mostly seen in those having migraines where you can probably get it before the periods.

  • Poor sleep

As there are physical and emotional changes in the body, it can be seen that even sleep gets interrupted due to pain, tiredness, cramps, and so on. It is one of the commonly seen menstrual cycle symptoms which can vary from person to person. Around 33% of women have agreed that their sleep cycles get disrupted during their periods, learn more about menstrual insomnia by going through our detailed guide for the same.

  • Lower back pain

One of the main issues seen in middle-aged women during menstruation is lower back pain which can be seen in young women. This is also one of the signs your period might surprise you the day after the lower back pain occurs.

Menstrual cramps and back pain have varying causes, all of which can be treated by an expert. Learn more about the treatment and cause with our informative menstrual cramps and back pain guide.

What is a menstrual cycle?

The menstrual cycle can be defined as a process where a monthly series of changes happen in the body of a woman in preparation for pregnancy. The menstrual cycle can explain a lot about the health of a person as it is dependent on the overall process of menstruation. The hormonal changes which happen during the time of the menstrual cycle prepare the uterus for pregnancy. The process of ovulation which happens every month can be described as a process where one of the ovaries releases an egg resulting in the shedding of the lining of the uterus through the vagina.

Menstrual cycle calculation can be done through various ways to check if menstruation is happening once a month at the right time. The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next which can occur every 21 to 35 days and can vary from person to person. Irregular menstruation and regular menstruation can happen based on each person and the dates of the menstrual cycle can keep changing based on the existing circumstances. A menstrual cycle tracker is used by most women to keep a check on the dates of periods to understand if menstruation is happening at the right time.

Some women also experience painful cramps and heavy bleeding (menorrhagia) during their periods. These are serious issues that should be talked over with an experienced healthcare specialist.

How To Fix Irregular Menstrual Cycles & Treat Associated Symptoms?

In order to avoid Irregular periods and ensure a timely menstrual cycle, you should follow a proper diet and exercise that promotes healthy practices for the proper functioning of the overall body. The menstrual cycle can happen smoothly if activities that support hormone levels are followed based on the available circumstances. Symptoms of menstruation cannot be reduced completely as it is a natural process that has to happen naturally for better body functions. But such symptoms can be controlled and reduced to some extent by following certain steps which help in forming a healthy body.

Even though the stages of the menstrual cycle are complicated and painful, it is important to ensure that the menstrual cycle happens promptly. Some of the tips which can be followed to ensure regular periods are the following:

  • Practice Yoga & Exercise Regularly

Practicing yoga and calming exercises help reduce the painful symptoms of periods to some extent and ensures that your periods are regular.  Creating and following an exercise plan can help you get into a routine, helping you form a healthy habit. However, it’s not necessary to exercise when you are on your period. Exercising while on your period can be quite challenging, but if you still want to exercise or perform yoga, you can lower the intensity of your workouts. Lighten the pace of your activities to avoid tiring yourself even more since fatigue is one of the most common period symptoms.

  • Maintain a healthy diet

The food consumed by each person has a huge impact on the person’s menstrual cycles, which is why following a healthy diet will help in making the overall process much smoother and more comfortable.  Focus on planning a healthy nutrient rich-diet consisting of plenty of vegetables, fruits, and vitamins.


Menstruation and the menstrual cycle are common natural process seen in women which happens until menopause. As it is a process that needs to happen in every woman as a preparatory step towards pregnancy, it is important to understand how it works along with the steps to be taken for the smooth functioning of the overall process.

It is often said that menstruation should happen regularly to avoid complications concerning pregnancy in the future. Irregularities that may come up in menstruation can result in issues in the future which can be resolved through changes in diet, exercise, and other healthy habits. Timely consultation with doctors and experts is required to ensure that any kind of severe situation is controlled and maintained when required. If situations get worse, it is always better to consult a doctor who can guide you through the overall process in an effective manner.

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Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.