Our menstrual cycle!
A hot topic that every woman can relate to. As Muslim women, our periods/menses/menstrual cycle is a huge concern when it comes to things like; when can we start praying and when we cannot? When can we start fasting and when should we not? What does it mean if we see spotting? What if it’s a specific color? The list goes on and on. My attempt here will be to briefly shed some light from a medical perspective, on what the menstrual cycle actually is, what to expect and how to approach various situations we might be faced with every day.
So let’s jump right into it, shall we?
First of all, what is the menstrual cycle?
A full menstrual cycle is the number of days from the first day of one period to the first day of the next. So that means day one of the menstrual cycle is the first of full bleeding day of the period. A typical cycle is approximately 24 to 35 days (average 28 days for most women). Medically this means: The series of changes our body goes through in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy, is the menstrual cycle. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg- this is called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare our uterus for pregnancy.
If ovulation takes place and the egg is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a menstrual period. When you menstruate, your body sheds the lining of the uterus wall (which would have been the womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina.
Islamically this means: Haiz is the term for menses which literally means something that issues forth or is in running state. It refers to that flow of blood which women experience every month for a given time period.
Ok, So what’s normal?
- The menstrual cycle, which is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next, isn’t the same for every woman. The menstrual flow might occur every 21 to 35 days and last two to seven days. For the first few years after menstruation begins, long cycles are common. However, menstrual cycles tend to shorten and become more regular as you get older. For the purpose of this article, our main concern is: Menstrual flow, is the number of days you are bleeding, each month during your cycle. Your menstrual flow can vary from being:
- regular — about the same length every month
At the end of the day, “Normal” is what is normal for you.
What does that mean exactly?
- There are no definite appointed days for a woman in menses.
- The number of days may be more in one month and less in another.
- Every woman knows what NORMAL for her.
- Every woman and every month can vary.
- It’s not necessary for the menses to start each month on the same date.
- It may start early or may be delayed.
- The duration of menses will vary for all women, varying person to person.
(Keep in mind that use of certain types of contraception, such as extended-cycle birth control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs), will alter your menstrual cycle. Talk to your health care provider about what to expect) (When you get close to menopause, your cycle might become irregular again. However, because of the risk of uterine cancer increases as you age, discuss any irregular bleeding around menopause with your health care provider.)
Ok, but do I know what is actually normal for me?
Number one: Keep track of your menstrual period by start keeping a record of your menstrual cycle and menstrual flow on a calendar. Begin by tracking your start date every month for several months in a row to identify the regularity of your periods. The best and easiest way to do this in 2017 downloads an app! There are a gazillion apps out there. I personally use “Period Diary.” It’s a very simple basic app, that tracks your start and end date, gives you predictions, etc. If you’re extra concerned about your periods, then also make note of the following every month:
- End date: How long does your period typically last? Is it longer or shorter than usual?
- Flow: Record the heaviness of your flow. Does it seem lighter or heavier than usual? How often do you need to change your sanitary protection? Have you passed any blood clots?
- Abnormal bleeding. Are you bleeding in between periods?
- Pain: Describe any pain associated with your period. Does the pain feel worse than usual?
- Other changes. Have you experienced any changes in mood or behavior? Did anything new happen around the time of change in your periods?
My cycle is not normal or irregular, why?
Menstrual cycle irregularities can have many different causes, just a few of those include:
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding. A missed period can be an early sign of pregnancy. Breastfeeding typically delays the return of menstruation after pregnancy.
- Eating disorders, extreme weight loss or excessive exercising
- Eating disorders — such as anorexia nervosa — extreme weight loss and increased physical activity can disrupt menstruation.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have irregular periods as well as enlarged ovaries that contain
What can I do to prevent menstrual irregularities?
For some women, use of birth control pills can help regulate menstrual cycles. Treatment for any underlying problems, such as an eating disorder, also might help. However, some menstrual irregularities can’t be prevented. In addition, consult your health care provider if:
- Your periods suddenly stop for more than 90 days — and you’re not pregnant
- Periods become erratic after having been regular
- You bleed for more than seven days
- You bleed more heavily than usual or soak through more than one pad or tampon every hour or two
- Periods are less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart
- You bleed between periods
- You develop severe pain during your period
- You suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons
Remember, tracking your menstrual cycle can help you find out what’s normal for you and what isn’t. If you have questions or concerns about your menstrual cycle, talk to your health care provider!
What about SPOTTING?
Ok, so we know that we cannot pray, fast, have sexual relations with husband during menses. But what about spotting?
This is a very hot topic among all women. All of us have experienced some kind of spotting at some point or another. Spotting before periods is a frustrating bodily function that most of us may or may not understand. For all those times you had to throw out a new pair of underwear, for all those times you thought your period was over, you bathed and started praying/fasting etc, and then feel/see discharge, and for all those times you thought there was something wrong with your reproductive system, for all those times you think you need to stop praying/fasting etc, again after bathing, let’s try to set the record straight.
First, we need to define spotting and understand how it affects you and your body.
…………………………….TO BE CONTINUED………………………….
Written by featherB – She is a Medical Graduate with a degree in Medicine, is an aspiring writer living in the Bay Area. She is also a student of the Quran. You can follow her at: theselittlethoughtsofmine.com
The Book of Cleanliness: Compiled by Iqbal Kailani. Translated by Khaja Abdul Muqtader.