I get a lot of questions about how the menstrual cycle works, what is a normal cycle, what causes irregular cycles and how birth control pills work. The next few posts will tackle these questions. Today: The normal menstrual cycle. As you will see, normal has significant variations.
The menstrual cycle is the basis of our ability to reproduce. Just as it is so easy to forget that eating exists primarily to provide nutrients for our body’s health and survival, so too is it easy to forget that our* menstrual cycles exist in order to make an egg ready to join with a sperm and prepare the uterine lining to accept the fertilized egg.
Menses begin with puberty and menarche (the medical term for the onset of menses) and continues until menopause (beginning one year after your last menses). Most women have many, many menstrual cycles in our lives. For many women, much of our reproductive lives are focused on how we can safely control our fertility and have our children when and if we want. Understanding the menstrual cycle is a key to understanding how our bodies work, how contraception works and how pregnancy is achieved.
Bacterial Vaginosis or BV is characterized by a unique and offensive vaginal odor commonly described as “fishy” or “sour”. The smell is often worse at the end of your menses and right after sex with a man, if no condom is used. The smell can be embarrassingly strong, and the condition can be annoyingly recurrent for some women.
BV is not an infection, rather it is an imbalance of normal vaginal flora –I love that we refer to the vaginal ecology as flora.
It is one of those things just not talked about—caring for your vagina. We get messages from the media and folks selling product, we need to sanitize ourselves. We should “freshen” with a douche or “organic wash” or “odor blocker”. The truth is, the more product you put in your vagina, the more likely you will get an imbalance in your natural flora. This is the healthy bacteria which we need for vaginal health. This imbalance can lead to vaginitis –an inflammation of the vagina. This can be mildly uncomfortable or can lead to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis—stay tuned for posts on these.
So you now know what not to do. So what DO you do?