Menstruation or your menstrual period is the regular shedding of the uterine lining about 14 days after ovulation if pregnancy did not happen. Your menstrual period (as well as your menstrual cycle) begins on the first day you see bright red blood.
Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your menstrual period and it ends on the day before the next period begins. A normal menstrual period is between 3-7 days long, and a normal menstrual cycle is between 21 and 35 days long with an average of 28 days.
Menstrual cycle abnormalities are often related to hormonal problems. Doctors use words to describe certain abnormalities of the menstrual cycle:
- Eumenorrhea: a normal menstrual cycle that has no abnormalities of flow, timing, or pain
- Amenorrhea: No menstrual period, no menstrual bleeding, or missed period, one or more missed menstrual periods, missing at least three menstrual periods in a row. Girls who haven't begun menstruation by age 16 are considered to have primary amenorrhea. The most common cause of amenorrhea is pregnancy and menopause. Other causes include PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothyroidism, certain medications, too high or too low weights, too much exercise, premature menopause, uterine abnormalities like scarring inside the uterus (Asherman syndrome).
- Primary Amenorrhea: When a woman has not yet had her period by the age of 16
- Secondary Amenorrhea: When the menstrual period stops after a woman already had regular cycles and periods (2 of the most frequent diagnoses for 'secondary amenorrhea' are pregnancy and menopause)
- Menorrhagia: regular but heavy bleeding during a menstrual period or prolonged menstrual bleeding (more than 5-8 days)
- Metrorrhagia: irregular timing of the menstrual periods (usually more frequent periods)
- Menometrorrhagia: not only irregular, frequent periods, but ones that are particularly heavy as well
- Oligomenorrhea: less than 8 periods a year or cycles coming less frequently than every 35 days, which can be a sign of PCOS
- Dysmenorrhea: Painful menstrual periods. A medical condition that involves pain or discomfort during the menstruation process, often simply referred to as menstrual pain.