What Determines Duration Of Menstruation And Amount Of Discharge? Expert’s Answer
Menstruation is a monthly bleeding from a woman's genitals when the uterus rejects the "old endometrium." The first day of menstruation is considered the first day of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation occurs somewhere in the middle of the menstrual cycle (which is the 14th day in case of a 28-day cycle) – the egg cell ready for fertilization enters the fallopian tube and begins to move to the uterine cavity. Under the influence of hormones, the endometrium starts preparing for a possible pregnancy and thickens. If pregnancy doesn’t occur, the redundant endometrium is detached and removed from the uterus with the menstrual blood, which results from injuries to the blood vessels, and mucus.
Normal menstruation lasts from 3 to 7 days, occurs regularly, and proceeds without pronounced pain and fatigue. On average, along with menstrual secretions, the female body loses up to 8.45 oz (250 ml) of blood per cycle or 1.35-1.7 oz (40-50 ml) per day, which is roughly 2-3 tablespoons. The amount of blood loss may seem large due to the fact that menstrual discharge also contains the detached epithelium of the endometrium, the inner membrane of the uterus, and mucus.
Factors determining the parameters of the menstrual cycle
The amount of blood lost during menstruation, as well as its duration, is individual for each woman and can depend on various factors.
1. Genetic background
Often, the parameters of menstruation, as well as many others, are determined genetically – daughters can inherit them from their mothers.
In youth, especially immediately after the onset of menarche (the first menstruation in a girl's life), the amount of bloody discharge and the duration of menstruation is much less than in adulthood. In the pre-menopausal period, as the menstrual cycle becomes longer, it can become scarcer and gradually cease. This is the menopause.
3. Body constitution
As a rule, asthenics’ menstruations are less in both volume and duration in comparison with hypersthenics.
Nutritional habits, especially strict diets, are directly related to the features of menstruation.
5. Climatic environmental conditions
The closer the girl lives to the equator, the earlier her menarche occurs, her regular menstruation lasts longer, and the bleeding is heavier than in northern women.
The usual duration of menstruation and the volume of discharge can sometimes vary from cycle to cycle. This shouldn’t be tagged as pathology, since these fluctuations are caused by physiological factors.
In the teenage years when the menstrual cycle is only starting to establish, it can vary in duration (there may be months since the last menstruation) and in the amount of the discharge. All parameters can both increase and decrease. This irregularity and unpredictability is normal within one year after the onset of menarche.
In the postpartum period, the menstrual cycle doesn’t restore immediately. If the mother is breastfeeding, the first menstruation comes later than in the absence of lactation. It is individual for each woman, how soon the first menstruation occurs after the childbirth. It may take a year, sometimes even a little more. It is important to understand that during 4-6 months after the first menstruation, all the cycle parameters may fluctuate. Don’t be alarmed – it is not a sign of any abnormality.
In the pre-menopausal period, when the functioning of the ovaries gradually decreases and the body prepares for the onset of menopause, the menstrual cycle changes.
External factors affecting the nature of menstruation
There is also a number of external factors that contribute to change in the menstrual parameters. This change is temporary and stops on its own once the cause is eliminated.
1. Hormonal imbalance related to stress
Stress, fatigue, chronic lack of sleep lead to hormonal imbalance, and this, in turn, leads to menstrual disorders, changing the duration and the volume of menstrual bleeding.
2. Strict diet
The exhausted organism tries to save its resourses on everything, including the production of hormones, and this triggers changes in the cycle.
3. Hormonal contraception
The action of hormonal contraceptives is based either on suppression of ovulation, or on changes in the endometrium structure. In both cases, the change in the nature of menstruation is quite expectable. Combined oral contraceptives, for example, entail a decrease in blood discharge during menstruation.
4. Physical activity
Intensive physical activity, unusual for the body, often leads to a decrease in the discharge volume.
Keep in mind that a change in the nature of menstrual discharge often indicates serious ailments, both gynecological and extragenital (not associated with the female reproductive system). So, you should consult with a doctor in case of any menstrual disorder in order to discover its cause and take necessary measures.
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.