You some¬≠ti¬≠mes won¬≠der what exactly your mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is? We usually don‚Äôt know pre¬≠cisely what is going on in our body. It‚Äôs time for a little mens¬≠trual crash course! Because a more com¬≠pre¬≠hen¬≠sive under¬≠stan¬≠ding of our period can also improve our rela¬≠ti¬≠ons¬≠hip with it. In six simple steps we will approach mens¬≠trua¬≠tion and give you all the important infor¬≠ma¬≠tion about your mon¬≠thly blee¬≠ding. A small book¬≠ler for your mens¬≠trua¬≠tion, a kind of Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion 101. Let‚Äôs go!

What is menstruation exactly?

Mens­trua­tion is the pro­cess by which mens­trual blood is dischar­ged mon­thly through the vagina. This usually takes place from puberty to meno­pause. Did you know that the first period is also cal­led men­ar­che? The period is part of the natu­ral mens­trual cycle regu­la­ted by hor­mo­nes. Mon­thly blee­ding is cal­led mens­trua­tion, period, menses and an infi­nite num­ber of other syn­onyms or euphe­misms. Which expres­si­ons do you know and use mostly for your mens­trua­tion? Feel free write it in the comments at the bot­tom of the article.

Why are we bleeding every month?

The lining of the ute¬≠rus chan¬≠ges during the mens¬≠trual cycle depen¬≠ding on the hor¬≠mo¬≠nes in the body, espe¬≠cially est¬≠ro¬≠gen. The rea¬≠son for this is to pre¬≠pare the body for a pos¬≠si¬≠ble pregnancy! The fer¬≠ti¬≠li¬≠sed egg could implant its¬≠elf in the thi¬≠c¬≠ker lining of the ute¬≠rus, mar¬≠king the begin¬≠ning of pregnancy. Howe¬≠ver, if the implan¬≠ta¬≠tion of the egg has not been suc¬≠cess¬≠ful, mens¬≠trua¬≠tion begins about two weeks after ovu¬≠la¬≠tion. The begin¬≠ning of mens¬≠trua¬≠tion marks the first day of a new cycle. Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is a clean¬≠sing pro¬≠cess that is important for the body.

What happens to the body during menstruation?

During mens¬≠trua¬≠tion, the mon¬≠thly build-up of the ute¬≠rine lining is redu¬≠ced again. The mens¬≠trual blood and mens¬≠trual tis¬≠sue flow out of the ute¬≠rus through the small ope¬≠ning in the cer¬≠vix. Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is the mon¬≠thly discharge of blood and muco¬≠sal tis¬≠sue that has built up in the ute¬≠rine lining during the mens¬≠trual cycle.

Myth menstrual blood, what‚Äôs really in it?

Strictly spea¬≠king, mens¬≠trual blood is not just blood, but rather a mix¬≠ture of blood, dischar¬≠ged ute¬≠rine lining, the unfer¬≠ti¬≠li¬≠sed egg and cer¬≠vi¬≠cal mucus. Other dead cells are also found in the mix. For this rea¬≠son, the mens¬≠trual blood is not com¬≠ple¬≠tely liquid, but rather car¬≠ries small bits or clumps with it as well. The bet¬≠ter term for mens¬≠trual blood would pro¬≠bably be mens¬≠trual flow. You can see the dif¬≠fe¬≠rent con¬≠sis¬≠ten¬≠cies par¬≠ti¬≠cu¬≠larly well if you use a mens¬≠trual cup. With a cup, ever¬≠ything is first collec¬≠ted in a con¬≠tai¬≠ner and the mens¬≠trual fluid is not directly absor¬≠bed, as it hap¬≠pens with tampons.

Und wel­che Farbe hat dein Menstruationsblut?

What color should the menstrual blood be?

The colo¬≠ra¬≠tion of the mens¬≠trual blood can range from light red to bloody red. Brown to almost black are also pos¬≠si¬≠ble colours. Howe¬≠ver, atten¬≠tion should be paid here. The colour of your mens¬≠trual blood can tell you a lot about your health. At the begin¬≠ning of your mens¬≠trua¬≠tion, the blood is still fresh and usually bright red. At the end of your period, the colour of the mens¬≠trual flow turns to red¬≠dish-brown. The colour change is rela¬≠ted to how fresh or ‚Äėold‚Äô the mens¬≠trual blood is and whe¬≠ther the blood has already reac¬≠ted with oxy¬≠gen. The hea¬≠vi¬≠ness of the mens¬≠trua¬≠tion also influ¬≠en¬≠ces the colour of the mens¬≠trual fluid. For example, if the blee¬≠ding is hea¬≠vier, the mens¬≠trual blood is dark red with small clumps. During a ligh¬≠ter period, the colour is light pink. Slight spot¬≠ting immedia¬≠tely before mens¬≠trua¬≠tion, also cal¬≠led pre¬≠mens¬≠trual blee¬≠ding, is often brownish.

How much blood do I lose per period?

On average, around 35 mil¬≠li¬≠li¬≠tres of blood are lost per mens¬≠trua¬≠tion. Such num¬≠bers are somehow always dif¬≠fi¬≠cult to grasp. To be able to ima¬≠gine it bet¬≠ter: 35 ml cor¬≠re¬≠spond to about two to three tablespoons! But ever¬≠ything bet¬≠ween 10 and 80 ml blood loss per mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is nor¬≠mal. So you should have at least one tablespoon of blood a month and it could be up to six tablespoons. Doesn‚Äôt sound like much, does it? If you use a mens¬≠trual cup, you can pay atten¬≠tion to how much blood you really lose during your next mens¬≠trua¬≠tion. Mens¬≠trual cups usually have a capa¬≠city of 10-25 ml.
People who have an ele¬≠va¬≠ted est¬≠ro¬≠gen level usually bleed more due to the unba¬≠lan¬≠ced hor¬≠mone levels. Gynae¬≠co¬≠lo¬≠gi¬≠cal dise¬≠a¬≠ses, such as endo¬≠me¬≠trio¬≠sis, can addi¬≠tio¬≠nally incre¬≠ase mens¬≠trual blee¬≠ding. People with a low oes¬≠tro¬≠gen level, on the other hand, have rela¬≠tively mild bleeding.

Have you ever been more intensively involved with your period?

Your mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is your mon¬≠thly and free-of-charge health check. Espe¬≠cially the colour and the hea¬≠vi¬≠ness of your period can be an indi¬≠ca¬≠tor for health pro¬≠blems. It is the¬≠re¬≠fore worth kee¬≠ping an eye on your mens¬≠trua¬≠tion and taking notes of any chan¬≠ges. Do you have any other ques¬≠ti¬≠ons about your mens¬≠trua¬≠tion? Then feel free to use the com¬≠ment func¬≠tion or write us a pri¬≠vate mes¬≠sage!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.