Why do we get periods? Every place I go, I hear about periods, in school, on whatsapp groups, among senior students. I am yet to get mine but am curious to know more.
Rebecca, 12, Grade Five student in Duba
First, I truly appreciate you seeking information on this subject. Kudos to your courage. Periods, or the monthly menstrual cycle, are an intrinsic part of a woman’s life. They are a biological function, and it is very important for every girl approaching puberty to learn about them. The menstrual cycle or periods as they are usually called, begin between the age of 12-14. The menstrual cycle is an indicator that your body has matured, and your reproductive organs have now entered their fully functional stage.
What are periods? Periods happen when every month, at a certain time, you experience the shedding of blood from your vagina. There is nothing to be alarmed about this. It is a perfectly normal thing to happen for every girl after she attains puberty.
Rebecca, you would have read about the female reproductive organs in your biology class, right? They are the uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina.
The uterus is also known as the womb. We all lived in our mother’s womb or uterus for nine months before being born into the world.
Every girl is born with two ovaries that start to release an egg every month after she reaches puberty.
The fallopian tubes connect the ovary to the uterus so the egg can travel from the ovary to the uterus.
The cervix is the mouth of the uterus from which the baby emerges at the time of birth.
The vagina is birth canal through which the baby travels from the uterus to be born.
Why do periods happen?
It’s because of the hormonal changes in your body. When you enter puberty, around 12-14 years of age, two hormones called oestrogen and progesterone begin to be released in your body. These hormones are important hormones for every woman so she can have babies. Every month, these two hormones trigger the ovaries to produce an egg in a synchronized fashion. This egg is released to prepare the woman for pregnancy. This egg travels to the fallopian tubes and wait there for 48 to 72 hours for the sperm to come to fertilize it to become a small embryo. This embryo then travels to the uterus through the fallopian tube and grows in the uterus into a full-formed baby over a period of nine months. So, the walls of the uterus become thick and rich with blood to nourish the egg if it is fertilized.
If the fertilization does not take place, the lining of the uterus starts to come down and goes out through the vagina as blood.
This shedding of the blood is called periods. It happens every month unless a woman gets pregnant.
In medical terms, periods are called menstruation.
Therefore, Rebecca, when you get your periods, do not be scared or ashamed. It is a perfectly natural part of becoming a woman. Periods are a symbol of your power to bring life on to this earth.
Talk to your parents about it and they will guide you on how to handle periods and advise and support you to accept them as a part of your journey into womanhood.