You some­times won­der what exactly your men­stru­ation is? We usu­ally don’t know pre­cisely what is going on in our body. It’s time for a little men­strual crash course! Because a more com­pre­hens­ive under­stand­ing of our period can also improve our rela­tion­ship with it. In six simple steps we will approach men­stru­ation and give you all the import­ant inform­a­tion about your monthly bleed­ing. A small book­ler for your men­stru­ation, a kind of Men­stru­ation 101. Let’s 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 uterus changes dur­ing the men­strual cycle depend­ing on the hor­mones in the body, espe­cially estro­gen. The reason for this is to pre­pare the body for a pos­sible preg­nancy! The fer­til­ised egg could implant itself in the thicker lin­ing of the uterus, mark­ing the begin­ning of preg­nancy. How­ever, if the implant­a­tion of the egg has not been suc­cess­ful, men­stru­ation begins about two weeks after ovu­la­tion. The begin­ning of men­stru­ation marks the first day of a new cycle. Men­stru­ation is a cleans­ing pro­cess that is import­ant for the body.

What hap­pens to the body dur­ing menstruation?

Dur­ing men­stru­ation, the monthly build-up of the uter­ine lin­ing is reduced again. The men­strual blood and men­strual tis­sue flow out of the uterus through the small open­ing in the cer­vix. Men­stru­ation is the monthly dis­charge of blood and mucosal tis­sue that has built up in the uter­ine lin­ing dur­ing the men­strual cycle.

Myth men­strual blood, what’s really in it?

Strictly speak­ing, men­strual blood is not just blood, but rather a mix­ture of blood, dis­charged uter­ine lin­ing, the unfer­til­ised egg and cer­vical mucus. Other dead cells are also found in the mix. For this reason, the men­strual blood is not com­pletely liquid, but rather car­ries small bits or clumps with it as well. The bet­ter term for men­strual blood would prob­ably be men­strual flow. You can see the dif­fer­ent con­sist­en­cies par­tic­u­larly well if you use a men­strual cup. With a cup, everything is first col­lec­ted in a con­tainer and the men­strual fluid is not dir­ectly absorbed, as it hap­pens with tampons.

Und welche Farbe hat dein Menstruationsblut?

What color should the men­strual blood be?

The col­or­a­tion of the men­strual blood can range from light red to bloody red. Brown to almost black are also pos­sible col­ours. How­ever, atten­tion should be paid here. The col­our of your men­strual blood can tell you a lot about your health. At the begin­ning of your men­stru­ation, the blood is still fresh and usu­ally bright red. At the end of your period, the col­our of the men­strual flow turns to red­dish-brown. The col­our change is related to how fresh or ‘old’ the men­strual blood is and whether the blood has already reacted with oxy­gen. The heav­i­ness of the men­stru­ation also influ­ences the col­our of the men­strual fluid. For example, if the bleed­ing is heav­ier, the men­strual blood is dark red with small clumps. Dur­ing a lighter period, the col­our is light pink. Slight spot­ting imme­di­ately before men­stru­ation, also called pre­men­strual bleed­ing, is often brownish.

How much blood do I lose per period?

On aver­age, around 35 mil­li­litres of blood are lost per men­stru­ation. Such num­bers are some­how always dif­fi­cult to grasp. To be able to ima­gine it bet­ter: 35 ml cor­res­pond to about two to three table­spoons! But everything between 10 and 80 ml blood loss per men­stru­ation is nor­mal. So you should have at least one table­spoon of blood a month and it could be up to six table­spoons. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? If you use a men­strual cup, you can pay atten­tion to how much blood you really lose dur­ing your next men­stru­ation. Men­strual cups usu­ally have a capa­city of 10-25 ml.
People who have an elev­ated estro­gen level usu­ally bleed more due to the unbal­anced hor­mone levels. Gyn­ae­co­lo­gical dis­eases, such as endo­met­ri­osis, can addi­tion­ally increase men­strual bleed­ing. People with a low oes­tro­gen level, on the other hand, have rel­at­ively mild bleeding.

Have you ever been more intens­ively involved with your period?

Your men­stru­ation is your monthly and free-of-charge health check. Espe­cially the col­our and the heav­i­ness of your period can be an indic­ator for health prob­lems. It is there­fore worth keep­ing an eye on your men­stru­ation and tak­ing notes of any changes. Do you have any other ques­tions about your men­stru­ation? Then feel free to use the com­ment func­tion or write us a private mes­sage!

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.