Menstruation terms you need to know
Choma, have you ever read something about menstruation and realised that there are all these terms often thrown in, like ovulation or oestrogen. Or maybe you’re reading up on symptoms related to your period and come across words such as ‘Dysmenorrhea’ or ‘Toxic Shock Syndrome'. What do these words even mean choma? Most of the time, there’s a much simpler explanation for these words. I’ve created a list of words and their explanations to make reading about your monthlies a little less intimidating.
Dysmenorrhea or menstrual cramps is pain in the hips, lower abdomen, lower back or thighs. These are some of the pains which you would normally experience just before and/or during your periods. For some, these cramps are just an annoyance but not very painful. But, for others, the cramps can be so painful that some women have to take off a few days every month, which interferes with their daily activities. If you are experiencing painful periods along with some of the following symptoms you might be suffering from dysmenorrhea:
About once a month, one of your eggs (also known as ovules) is released from your ovaries into your fallopian tube. This process (the release of the egg) is called ovulation. The egg then travels down one of your fallopian tubes and into your uterus, waiting to be fertilized. An interesting side fact: even though sperm can live inside a woman’s body for up to five days, waiting for an egg to fertilise, an egg only lives up to 48hours.
If the egg isn’t fertilised within 48 hours, it won’t attach to the wall of your uterus. Your uterus will then shed the lining that was meant for the egg, resulting in your period. Although the signs and symptoms vary from one girl to another, there are common symptoms like:
- Bloating of the abdomen
- Breast tenderness
- Heightened sense of vision, taste or smell
- Increased sex-drive
- Light spotting
Pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS is the combination of symptoms that some girls suffer from, usually a week before their period. This means symptoms will usually appear before your period starts and then disappear while you’re still on your period. Sometimes symptoms can last throughout your period. The symptoms may be physical or emotional changes, or both, and they can get pretty intense choma. PMS symptoms can include:
- Breast tenderness
- Irritability or anger
- Mild depression
- Mood swings
- Skin problems like acne
- Weight gain
These symptoms tend to reappear in a predictable pattern every month, before your period. The physical and emotional changes you experience with PMS might differ from slightly noticeable to intense.
Still, you don't have to let these problems control your life choma. There are ways in which you can work through it every month. Minor lifestyle changes can help you reduce or manage PMS symptoms, such as exercise, a healthy diet and making time for relaxation. If you think your PMS symptoms are disrupting your everyday life, visit your nearest clinic and speak to a healthcare provider; they should be able to prescribe something for you.
Oestrogen (also spelled estrogen) is a hormone that is important for sexual and reproductive development, mainly in women. You may at times hear it being referred to as “female sex hormones”. Oestrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries and plays a role in the development of your breasts, pubic hair and armpit hair. When it comes to your period, oestrogen helps regulate your menstrual cycle as well as controlling the growth of the lining in your uterus in the first part of your cycle. If the egg released during ovulation is not fertilised then oestrogen levels will drop and you’ll start your period. If the egg is fertilized by sperm, oestrogen will work with another hormone called progesterone, that stops ovulation during pregnancy.
This is another hormone you’ll read about quite often when it comes to your sexual reproductive health. Progesterone’s job is to help make sure that your body is prepared for pregnancy by preparing the lining of your uterus. It also makes sure that your uterus is ready to receive an egg that might be fertilised. It’s also produced in the ovaries.
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
You may have seen this as a warning on the box of your tampons. TSS or Toxic Shock Syndrome is a potentially life threatening bacterial infection which is spread from the vagina to the rest of your body. It’s usually linked with tampons and is a bit more likely to happen if you insert a tampon with dirty hands, insert a reused tampon or use a tampon without the applicator. However, it is a rare condition and has mainly been associated with superabsorbent tampons. Using a very absorbent tampon on your lightest days, normally towards the end of your period, increases your risk for TSS.
However, you can also get TSS through being infected by another person, For example, if the infected person’s blood comes into contact with an open cut or wound you have.
So choma, always follow package directions for insertion, change your tampon regularly, at least every 4 to 6 hours, and always choose the lowest absorbency for your flow.
The most common symptoms of TSS include:
- Acute diarrhea
- Dizziness or fainting
- Muscle aches and pains
- Sore throat
- Sudden high fever
If you suspect that you may have TSS as a result of using tampons, take the tampon out, and contact your healthcare provider immediately. But really choma, don’t fixate yourself on this. It’s ok to leave your tampon on overnight, just make sure you use the least absorbent tampon and remove it immediately after you wake up the next morning, mainly for hygiene purposes.
Menstruation is a natural occurrence, and nothing you should be too shy to talk about. Are there any other words or phrases that you want me to break down choma? Let me know in the comment section or message me via Ask Choma.
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