Riding on the back of the March 8 International Women’s Day celebration, later converted into Women’s History Week, March was officialized by the US Congress as Women’s History Month in 1987.
This hugely successful initiative attempts to educate the public on women’s achievements and contributions to American history, as well as celebrate womanhood. Different groups, organizations, and institutions chip in. One example is The National Women’s History Alliance which typically selects the yearly theme, which for 2020 is ‘Valiant Women of the Vote,’ celebrating the struggle for suffrage rights. The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are also active in commemorating women’s vital role.
We address the following question as our small contribution to this Month:
What is ‘normal’ menstruation, including post-menopausal bleeding?
As you have probably guessed or called out by now, the word normal elicits many potential responses and covers massive ground. Medical definitions might help.
- Menstrual cycles begin on the first day of your last period and end on the first day of your next period.
- The average cycle is between 24 and 38 days, while the median is 28 days long.
- But anywhere between 21 and 45 days is considered normal.
- Normal period length is 2 to 8 days.
- Menstruation consistency comes with time and age.
- Contraception, like the pill or an IUD, may impact menstruation patterns. Three/Four months of irregular periods qualifies for recommended birth control change.
- There are scores of causes for irregular periods besides contraception. The most usual ones are:
- Changes in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels
- Impending menopause
- Lifestyle factors: stress, exercising too much, weight issues (losing or gaining rapidly),
- Hyper and hypothyroidism
- Uterus fibroids
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Use of certain medications
- Light, medium, and heavy menstrual flows are all considered normal.
- Although they don’t tend to happen simultaneously, typical symptoms include:
- breast tenderness
- mood swings
- abdomen bloating and cramping
- back cramps
- increased hunger
As always, checking with your doctor concerning pain, pattern changes, or issues with any of the above is always good sense. Exercise it.
Further, menopause tends to happen within the 45-55-year-old bracket, but 51 is the median. It is defined as the permanent halt to women’s menstrual cycles after 12 months. It is important to be aware of perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause. It can be as little as the aforementioned 1 year, or up to a whooping ten years! Although spotting (detecting a few spots of blood) in those 12 months may be a casual occurrence and normally is nothing to worry about, any bleeding after menopause is abnormal and a cause for alert. Whichever the case, you should always report it to your healthcare professional. He or She will typically conduct a preliminary physical after checking your history, followed by any of a number of tests (endometrial biopsy, pelvic ultrasound, hysteroscopy, sonohysterography, and D&C) to rule out dangerous illnesses or conditions, especially endometrial cancer, whose numbers are on the rise in the last decade.