What are the Signs of Menstruation?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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Menstruation occurs when the lining of the uterus sheds out through the vagina, indicating the end of one menstrual cycle and the beginning of the next. Most women begin experiencing menstruation when they reach sexual maturity, which usually occurs in early adolescence. Women typically experience symptoms of menstruation once every 28-31 days, with symptoms lasting around a week. Some of the most common signs of menstruation include bleeding in the vaginal area, mood swings, breast and muscle soreness, and lower abdominal cramps.

The signs of menstruation are controlled by hormone fluctuations in the body. Midway through the menstrual cycle, an increase in two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, make the walls of the uterus become thick and sticky, in order to help a fertilized egg implant if a women is impregnated. If no fertilization occurs, the hormones drop back down to normal, causing the thick lining to shed out of the body. When hormonal levels drop, they usually cause the first signs of menstruation, known as pre-menstrual symptoms.


During the week preceding menstruation, many signs can show a woman that she is about to get her period. Some women retain water, particularly in their breasts, leading to swelling, weight gain, and soreness in the area. Women may experience unusual mood swings; many report becoming more irritable, subject to depression, or oversensitive in the days before menstruation begins. Some women have increased appetites or crave certain foods, while others may experience more acne breakouts, or have trouble sleeping. Not all women experience all of these signs of menstruation every month, but many experience at least a few uncomfortable symptoms occasionally.

The most obvious and important sign of menstruation is bleeding from the vaginal area. Though this may seem alarming at first, it is a natural, healthy process that indicates that the uterine lining is shedding and that no pregnancy has occurred within the past month. Bleeding is often very heavy for the first few days, then gradually tapers off. Many women also experience mild or intense cramping in their lower-abdominals, legs, and feet just prior to menstruating and during the first few days of a period.

Since most of the signs of menstruation can be uncomfortable and downright distracting, many women wonder if there is anything that can be done to relieve cramps, mood swings, or other signs and symptoms that come along with getting a period. Over-the-counter pain relievers are often helpful for relieving cramps, as are heating pads and hot water bottles. In some cases, a regular exercise regime can help cut down on both pre-menstrual symptoms and cramps associated with menstruating. If bleeding occurs for more than ten days, or if menstruation-related symptoms disrupt a woman's ability to work, go to school, or do daily activities, seeking the advice of a gynecologist can be helpful.


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Post 3

@pleonasm - Another fact about periods is the reason that there is often a bit of brown before the red. It's the remains of the menstruation from the month before being expelled before the new fluids.

I know it's a little bit gross to talk about it, but I'd much rather know what was normal and why something was happening then just be guessing.

Post 2

@umbra21 - I never even want to get out of bed when I'm having bad cramps. A bit of aspirin tends to help and extra sleep does too, but that's about all.

Apparently one of the reasons ladies get stomach upsets when they are having their periods is because the same hormone that causes the cramps is working on the bowels and can mess everything up.

It's funny how you can be familiar with something happening every month but not realize how or why it happens.

Post 1

I always end up feeling a bit depressed and more hungry than usual in the days before my period, but I never realize what's going on until it actually starts. I know that sounds a bit silly, but it tends to be irregular because I've got a hormonal issue and so I never know when it is coming. And the depression just sneaks up on me.

I had to admit that I would rather have the depression than have regular cramps. I've had them in the past and they can be absolutely horrid.

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