Dear ladies, in this article I'd love to share with you some information about your menstrual cycle, PMS symptoms and how to keep your menstrual diary. Probably you know a lot about these topics but you may find some new useful details and facts about your hormonal changes and benefits of Menstrual diary, how to reduce PMS symptoms and about possibility to get pregnant during non-ovulation period, etc. 

 

Menstrual cycle

Menstrual cycle is required for the production of ovocytes, and for the preparation of the uterus for pregnancy. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine suggests that a “normal” menstrual cycle length is 21-35 days. That's the time between the start of one period and the next one. The average menstrual cycle length is 28 days and “normal” period lasts between 2-7 days. More or less than this, or any bleeding between periods should be mentioned to your doctor. 

Although it seems as if you lose a lot of blood you really only lose between 4-6 tablespoons, the rest is tissue and water. Losing all that blood means losing all that iron, take note of this and take additional vitamins these days, especially if you are on a vegetarian diet. A period’s pain level, blood flow, and duration tend to be longer during the winter months than during summer. 

Even though the average length of the human menstrual cycle is similar to that of the lunar cycle, in modern humans there is no relation between the two. The relationship is believed to be a coincidence. A meta-analysis of studies from 1996 showed no correlation between the human menstrual cycle and the lunar cycle.

The menstrual cycle is governed by hormonal changes. Each cycle can be divided into three phases based on events in the ovary or in the uterus. The ovarian cycle consists of the follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase whereas the uterine cycle is divided into menstruation, proliferative phase, and secretory phase. The different phases of the menstrual cycle correlate with women’s moods. In some cases, hormones released during the menstrual cycle can cause behavioral changes in females; mild to severe mood changes can occur.

Ovulation period - your most fertile days - are the few days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. It is the process when an egg is released into the fallopian tube ready to be fertilized by a sperm and it usually occurs 12-14 days before a period. So if a woman has a 28-day cycle this is halfway between periods, around day 14. If the cycle is regularly 30 days she will normally ovulate between day 16 and day 18 of her cycle, taking day one as the first day of her period.

Although it’s true that your egg is only viable for 12 to 24 hours, you can actually get pregnant if you have sex any time during the five days before ovulation and on the day you ovulate. This is because sperm can survive in the vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes for up to five days. Having an irregular menstrual cycle makes it more difficult to pin point your fertility window, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are less fertile.  

Your menstrual cycle may be affected by your sleep pattern, travel, stress, your age, illness, medicine and alternative therapies, physical exertion, your weight and nutrition and other health conditions. In a number of countries, mainly in Asia, legislation or corporate practice has introduced formal menstrual leave to provide women with either paid or unpaid leave of absence from their employment while they are menstruating. Countries with policies include Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and South Korea. The practice is controversial due to concerns that it bolsters the perception of women as weak, inefficient workers, as well as concerns that it is unfair to men.

 

Menstruation stops occurring after menopause which usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. Also it might be a case of pseudomenopause refers to a hormonal state in which a woman who is of reproductive age does not ovulate or produce enough hormones to have a menstrual cycle due to hormonal interruption. The hormonal interruption may be caused by using medications that reduce natural hormone levels such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists. Sometimes pseudomenopause occurs in women of reproductive age when they fail to produce sufficient levels of hormones naturally.

PMS (Premenstrual syndrome)

PMS was originally seen as an imagined disease. Women who reported its symptoms were often told it was "all in their head". The formal medical description of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the more severe, related diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) goes back at least 70 years to a paper presented at the New York Academy of Medicine by Robert T. Frank titled “Hormonal Causes of Premenstrual Tension.” The specific term premenstrual syndrome appears to date from an article published in 1953 by Dalton and Green in the British Medical Journal.

More than 200 different symptoms have been associated with PMS. Common emotional and non-specific symptoms include stress, anxiety, difficulty with sleep, headache, pelvic pain, breast tenderness, bloating and irritability, feeling tired, mood swings, increased emotional sensitivity, and changes in interest in sex. Up to 80% of women report having some symptoms during the one to two weeks prior to menstruation. These symptoms interfere with normal life and therefore qualify as premenstrual syndrome in 20 to 30% of women. In 3 to 8%, they are severe. All these symptoms usually resolve around the start of bleeding. If these symptoms interfere with your normal functioning, cause discomfort or cause any concern, you should mention them to your healthcare provider.

The cause of PMS is unknown. Some symptoms may be worsened by a high-salt diet, alcohol, or caffeine. The underlying mechanism is believed to involve changes in hormone levels. Reducing salt, caffeine and stress along with increasing exercise is typically all that is recommended in those with mild symptoms. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation may be useful and diuretics have been used to handle water retention. Tentative evidence supports vitamin B6 and chasteberry. Also evening primrose oil may be useful.

Here you can find some scientific researches that proved yoga practice efficiency in order to reduce PMS symptoms and normalize menstrual cycle:

1)    Effect of Yoga on autonomic functions and psychologicalstatus during menstrual cycle

2)    Effect of Yogic Practices on Menstrual Disorders

3)    Effects of Yogasanas in the Management of Pain duringMenstruation

4)    Yoga Nidra and Menstrual Disorders

PMS occurs more often in women who are between their late 20s and early 40s; have at least 1 child; have a family history of depression; and have a past medical history of either postpartum depression or a mood disorder.

Menstrual diary

A menstrual diary is a great way to make sure PMS or your period don’t take you by surprise. After a few cycles you’ll likely see a pattern. Then you can even foresee symptoms and be ready for them, better plan important events around them to limit their impact on your life. A menstrual diary is a helpful tool for better understanding your premenstrual symptoms and then deciding how to treat them. You can plan to take extra good physical and emotional care of yourself during these difficult days. It also helps others to know that these premenstrual days are not a good time to expect you to be at your best.

Remember that keeping your calendar can give you and your doctor important information such as how long your cycle is, if it is irregular, as well as when, and if, you are ovulating. It also can help you and your doctor to identify any potential health issues that your menstrual cycle may reveal, especially if you are experiencing difficulty trying to conceive or if you are concerned about any health issue.

 

Most apps and online tools will mark your electronic calendar with predicted days that you’ll have your period based on earlier cycle patterns.

You can try these phone applications:

1) Life period tracker, Menstrual calendar  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/life-period-tracker-health-calendar-ovulation/id703547387?mt=8

2) Free menstrual calendar http://www.freemenstrualcalendar.com

3) Ladytimer https://ladytimer.com

Or you may try these paper templates:

1) http://www.cemcor.ubc.ca/files/uploads/Menstrual_Cycle_Diary.pdf

2) http://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/2015/menonote-menstrual-calendar-english.pdf

 

Yoga for women's health: Menstrual cycle, PMS and Menstrual diary