Five Things You Should Know About Your Period
The average woman will experience approximately 500 menstrual cycles in her lifetime, yet this process often remains a mystery to many women. Here are some of the most common questions about the menstrual cycle:
Question 1: Can stress delay my period?
Yes. Stress can postpone ovulation, but only if it occurs early in the cycle—which would push back your ovulation date. Once ovulation occurs, menstruation starts two weeks later, regardless of your stress levels.
[SLIDESHOW: ** Top Five Pregnancy Myths Revealed**]**** Question 2: What does it mean when I have spotting in the middle of my cycle?
Spotting in the middle of your cycle, which when you ovulate, is not uncommon, so no need to worry. Before you ovulate, your body experiences a slight drop in estrogen, which sometimes makes the uterus shed a layer of lining, causing you to bleed. If anything, it’s a good sign of your fertility.
Question 3: Can I get pregnant if I have sex during my period?
It’s definitely a possibility, particularly if you have very a very short menstrual cycle, or a very short period, which would bring the start of your ovulation closer to the time that you’d start menstruating. So, you could potentially get pregnant if the timing is spot on: if you have a short cycle (maybe 22 days instead of 28) and you ovulate a few days after you have had sex during your period, and the sperm is still alive in your reproductive tract, you could conceive.
Question 4: What causes menstrual cramps?
Menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are painful sensations felt in the lower abdomen that can occur both before and during a woman’s menstrual period. The pain ranges from dull and annoying to severe and extreme. Menstrual cramps tend to begin after an egg is released from the ovaries and travels down the fallopian tube. During each menstrual period, if there is no sperm to fertilize the egg, the uterus contracts to expel its lining. These uterine contractions cause much of the pain felt during menstrual cramps because the contractions inhibit blood flow to the lining of the uterus
[QUIZ: ** Myth vs. Fact: Fertility**]**** Question 5: Is a missed period always an indication of pregnancy?
No; a missed period just means that you are not ovulating. Whether you’re not ovulating because you’re pregnant, or because of another medical reason, you should see your doctor and find out the cause. Other causes of missed periods include changes in medication, changes in diet or exercise, peri-menopause, thyroid conditions, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), or endometriosis.
Medical News Today. (14 July, 2009). “What Causes Period Cramps?” Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157333.php
Mommydocs.com (4 November, 2011). “Ovulation 101.” Retrieved from http://www.mommydocs.com/2011/11/ovulation-101-10-common-questions-about-your-period/
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “FAQ: Your First Period.” Retrieved from http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq049.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20121207T1438324144
Allison is a former editor for HealthCentral.