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Zomato Announces Period Leave; What Goes on in the Body?

Menstruation 101: here’s the biology of menstruation, and it includes nothing about morality or temples.

Updated
Her Health
5 min read
Menstruation 101: here’s the biology of menstruation, and it includes nothing about morality or temples.
i

(On 8 August, one of India’s biggest food delivery companies, Zomato, introduced up to 10 days of period leaves a year for its menstruating employees. FIT is republishing an explainer on menstruation in this context.)

Snapshot

That time of the month, being down, the red brigade, chumming, cramps, stomach ache…so many euphemisms for ONE single word – menstruation. There, I said it, for all of you, MENSTRUATION. One more time – menstruation.

Take away the societal stigma attached to it, (think the most recent Sabarimala-Smriti Irani debacle) and it’s a very simple word. But what’s the biology of it? Well, while it may have nothing to do with moral ideas of ‘purity’ and desecration, the truth of it all is not that simple. In fact, the female reproductive system needs to be given its due credit for carrying out this complex biological process, month after month, and making it look like a breeze.

So, are you ready, boys and girls? Here goes.

Zomato Announces Period Leave; What Goes on in the Body?

  1. 1. What is Menstruation?

    By roughly the 25th day, if there is no fertilisaiton, the egg begins to dissolve.
    By roughly the 25th day, if there is no fertilisaiton, the egg begins to dissolve.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Every month the ovaries of a female body that has reached puberty or sexual maturity prepares for pregnancy. In medical terms, this means the body preparing itself for the fertilisation of an egg in the uterus. By roughly the 25th day, if there is no fertilisaiton, the egg begins to dissolve. Following this, the shedding of the uteral lining becomes the monthly discharge of the female body. This discharge contains blood and tissue that finds an outlet through the cervix and the vagina.

    Dr Deepa Dewan, gynaecologist at Max Hospital, Delhi NCR, says that “in lay man’s terms, menstruation is a very normal, biological process that starts in the age group of 11-14 years and ends around 45-55 years.”

    Here are some common facts about menstruation:

    • The menstrual cycle is monthly.
    • The first day of bleeding is the first day of the period, while the 30th day from then is the first day of your next period.
    • The duration of a cycle mostly varies from 3-5 days.
    • The blood is about 20 to 60 ml or about 4 to 12 teaspoons during the course of each cycle.
    • The end of the menstruation cycle, menopause occurs around the 55 years of age.
    • It’s important to not wear sanitary pads/tampons for more than a period of 4-8 hours, depending on the level of bleeding. If proper hygiene is not maintained, it might lead to the Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) which can be fatal.
    Expand
  2. 2. Menstruation for Dummies

    Menstruation is plain biology, not an index of morality.
    Menstruation is plain biology, not an index of morality.
    (Illustration: Arnica Kala)

    When a woman is born, their ovaries contain all the egg cells, embedded in follicles, they will have in their lifetime. Once puberty is reached, the follicle, with the help of hormones, achieves maturity and releases an egg cell, also called ovum. The release of ovum means that the female body is ready for pregnancy - plain biology, not an index of morality.

    By way of one of the two fallopian tubes, the ovum travels to the uterus and this whole process of the egg cell leaving the ovary is called ovulation.

    The bleeding that a woman experiences during her monthly cycle, as mentioned previously, is a result of the rupturing of the blood vessels of the mucous membranes that form the internal lining of the uterus. The membrane prepares itself in anticipation of an egg being fertilised and planting itself in the uterus for further development. In case of pregnancy, the membrane supplies nutrients to the embryo. In case there is no fertilisation or pregnancy, the egg dies and is rejected as waste from the body along with the membrane.

    Dr Shelly Arora, Consultant at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi, comments on this and says:

    Menstruation is a complex integration of hormones from the brain that stimulate ovaries to produce another set of hormones that, in turn, stimulate the womb linings. We should admire the fact that every month so much work is happening  smoothly at multiple levels inside a woman’s body.
    Expand
  3. 3. Time to Look at TSS

    Toxic Shock Syndrome  is caused by overuse of the same tampons or sanitary pads over a long period of time.
    Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by overuse of the same tampons or sanitary pads over a long period of time.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    Toxic Shock Syndrome is a severe illness and is linked to infections. It is caused by overuse of the same tampons or sanitary pads over a long period of time.

    • Symptoms of TSS include high fever and low blood pressure and lung, liver or renal dysfunction or any other form of organ damage.
    • Prognosis depends on the stage the syndrome is detected at. Early detection could prevent damages to the organs.
    • Safeguarding yourself against TSS includes avoiding the use of super absorbent tampons and any other menstrual products placed in the vagina. Extra care of any wounds in the vaginal region is also important.

    Period blood might not be morally unchaste, but yes, it can, in some extreme cases lead to fatal medical complications.

    Expand
  4. 4. Myths and Menstruation

    No, you don’t have to avoid pickles when you’re on your period.
    No, you don’t have to avoid pickles when you’re on your period.
    (Photo: iStockphoto)

    While TSS might be a real problem to look out for, Dr Dewan busts some very prevalent myths associated with it.

    Since menstruation is a normal physiological process, it’s completely fine to keep eating your normal diet. You don’t have to avoid pickles, curd, ice cream - that really is a myth. Just ensure you’re eating iron-rich food like green leafy vegetables, and protein. Try consuming moong dal, chana and dry fruits.
    Dr Deepa Dewan

    Dr Arora agrees and adds:

    Scientifically there is no prove that recommends avoiding any specific food item. You can simply eat a healthy, nutritious diet.

    Another myth associated with menstruation is that of exercise. Dr Dewan says that people often approach her asking if they should allow their daughter to go out and play or participate in her routine practice.

    It’s not a disease, please go ahead and participate in all your routine exercise. Listen to your body, tone down your routine if it’s very intense and you feel that the bleeding is slowing you down. But you must exercise, it’s required. Walking, cycling and aerobics are actually good for the body,
    Dr Deepa Dewan

    Dr Arora also says that exercise is, in fact, beneficial since it can improve mood swings during periods.

    Expand
  5. 5. Pads, Tampons Et Al

    Sanitary pads, tampons, cups and more.
    Sanitary pads, tampons, cups and more.
    (Photo: Saumya Pankaj/FIT)

    Now, there are several menstrual products out there and you can find out more about them here. A broad look at them includes:

    • Sanitary pads: The most commonly used product among the urban Indian women. They’re sterilised, chemically treated layers of cotton with a porous layer on top.
    • Tampons: Used by a lesser portion of the urban consumers. They are wads of sterilised cotton with a string and a cylindrical covering, and are meant to be inserted in the vagina.
    • Cloth pads: An eco-friendly, usable version of sanitary pads. They are good measures for people with sensitive, rash-prone skin.
    • Menstrual Cups: Menstrual cups are reusable products for “leak free” protection that are made of silicone. Inserted into the vaginal opening, these cups collect period blood and keep you leak free for hours.

    (Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

    Expand

What is Menstruation?

By roughly the 25th day, if there is no fertilisaiton, the egg begins to dissolve.
By roughly the 25th day, if there is no fertilisaiton, the egg begins to dissolve.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Every month the ovaries of a female body that has reached puberty or sexual maturity prepares for pregnancy. In medical terms, this means the body preparing itself for the fertilisation of an egg in the uterus. By roughly the 25th day, if there is no fertilisaiton, the egg begins to dissolve. Following this, the shedding of the uteral lining becomes the monthly discharge of the female body. This discharge contains blood and tissue that finds an outlet through the cervix and the vagina.

Dr Deepa Dewan, gynaecologist at Max Hospital, Delhi NCR, says that “in lay man’s terms, menstruation is a very normal, biological process that starts in the age group of 11-14 years and ends around 45-55 years.”

Here are some common facts about menstruation:

  • The menstrual cycle is monthly.
  • The first day of bleeding is the first day of the period, while the 30th day from then is the first day of your next period.
  • The duration of a cycle mostly varies from 3-5 days.
  • The blood is about 20 to 60 ml or about 4 to 12 teaspoons during the course of each cycle.
  • The end of the menstruation cycle, menopause occurs around the 55 years of age.
  • It’s important to not wear sanitary pads/tampons for more than a period of 4-8 hours, depending on the level of bleeding. If proper hygiene is not maintained, it might lead to the Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) which can be fatal.
ADVERTISEMENT

Menstruation for Dummies

Menstruation is plain biology, not an index of morality.
Menstruation is plain biology, not an index of morality.
(Illustration: Arnica Kala)

When a woman is born, their ovaries contain all the egg cells, embedded in follicles, they will have in their lifetime. Once puberty is reached, the follicle, with the help of hormones, achieves maturity and releases an egg cell, also called ovum. The release of ovum means that the female body is ready for pregnancy - plain biology, not an index of morality.

By way of one of the two fallopian tubes, the ovum travels to the uterus and this whole process of the egg cell leaving the ovary is called ovulation.

The bleeding that a woman experiences during her monthly cycle, as mentioned previously, is a result of the rupturing of the blood vessels of the mucous membranes that form the internal lining of the uterus. The membrane prepares itself in anticipation of an egg being fertilised and planting itself in the uterus for further development. In case of pregnancy, the membrane supplies nutrients to the embryo. In case there is no fertilisation or pregnancy, the egg dies and is rejected as waste from the body along with the membrane.

Dr Shelly Arora, Consultant at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi, comments on this and says:

Menstruation is a complex integration of hormones from the brain that stimulate ovaries to produce another set of hormones that, in turn, stimulate the womb linings. We should admire the fact that every month so much work is happening  smoothly at multiple levels inside a woman’s body.

Time to Look at TSS

Toxic Shock Syndrome  is caused by overuse of the same tampons or sanitary pads over a long period of time.
Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by overuse of the same tampons or sanitary pads over a long period of time.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a severe illness and is linked to infections. It is caused by overuse of the same tampons or sanitary pads over a long period of time.

  • Symptoms of TSS include high fever and low blood pressure and lung, liver or renal dysfunction or any other form of organ damage.
  • Prognosis depends on the stage the syndrome is detected at. Early detection could prevent damages to the organs.
  • Safeguarding yourself against TSS includes avoiding the use of super absorbent tampons and any other menstrual products placed in the vagina. Extra care of any wounds in the vaginal region is also important.

Period blood might not be morally unchaste, but yes, it can, in some extreme cases lead to fatal medical complications.

ADVERTISEMENT

Myths and Menstruation

No, you don’t have to avoid pickles when you’re on your period.
No, you don’t have to avoid pickles when you’re on your period.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

While TSS might be a real problem to look out for, Dr Dewan busts some very prevalent myths associated with it.

Since menstruation is a normal physiological process, it’s completely fine to keep eating your normal diet. You don’t have to avoid pickles, curd, ice cream - that really is a myth. Just ensure you’re eating iron-rich food like green leafy vegetables, and protein. Try consuming moong dal, chana and dry fruits.
Dr Deepa Dewan

Dr Arora agrees and adds:

Scientifically there is no prove that recommends avoiding any specific food item. You can simply eat a healthy, nutritious diet.

Another myth associated with menstruation is that of exercise. Dr Dewan says that people often approach her asking if they should allow their daughter to go out and play or participate in her routine practice.

It’s not a disease, please go ahead and participate in all your routine exercise. Listen to your body, tone down your routine if it’s very intense and you feel that the bleeding is slowing you down. But you must exercise, it’s required. Walking, cycling and aerobics are actually good for the body,
Dr Deepa Dewan

Dr Arora also says that exercise is, in fact, beneficial since it can improve mood swings during periods.

Pads, Tampons Et Al

Sanitary pads, tampons, cups and more.
Sanitary pads, tampons, cups and more.
(Photo: Saumya Pankaj/FIT)

Now, there are several menstrual products out there and you can find out more about them here. A broad look at them includes:

  • Sanitary pads: The most commonly used product among the urban Indian women. They’re sterilised, chemically treated layers of cotton with a porous layer on top.
  • Tampons: Used by a lesser portion of the urban consumers. They are wads of sterilised cotton with a string and a cylindrical covering, and are meant to be inserted in the vagina.
  • Cloth pads: An eco-friendly, usable version of sanitary pads. They are good measures for people with sensitive, rash-prone skin.
  • Menstrual Cups: Menstrual cups are reusable products for “leak free” protection that are made of silicone. Inserted into the vaginal opening, these cups collect period blood and keep you leak free for hours.

(Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

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