You some­ti­mes won­der what exactly your mens­trua­tion is? We usually don’t know pre­cisely what is going on in our body. It’s time for a little mens­trual crash course! Because a more com­pre­hen­sive under­stan­ding of our period can also improve our rela­ti­ons­hip with it. In six simple steps we will approach mens­trua­tion and give you all the important infor­ma­tion about your mon­thly blee­ding. A small book­ler for your mens­trua­tion, a kind of Mens­trua­tion 101. Let’s go!

What is menstruation exactly?

Mens­trua­tion is the pro­cess by which mens­trual blood is dischar­ged mon­thly through the vagina. This usually takes place from puberty to meno­pause. Did you know that the first period is also cal­led men­ar­che? The period is part of the natu­ral mens­trual cycle regu­la­ted by hor­mo­nes. Mon­thly blee­ding is cal­led mens­trua­tion, period, menses and an infi­nite num­ber of other syn­onyms or euphe­misms. Which expres­si­ons do you know and use mostly for your mens­trua­tion? Feel free write it in the comments at the bot­tom of the article.

Why are we bleeding every month?

The lining of the ute­rus chan­ges during the mens­trual cycle depen­ding on the hor­mo­nes in the body, espe­cially est­ro­gen. The rea­son for this is to pre­pare the body for a pos­si­ble pregnancy! The fer­ti­li­sed egg could implant its­elf in the thi­c­ker lining of the ute­rus, mar­king the begin­ning of pregnancy. Howe­ver, if the implan­ta­tion of the egg has not been suc­cess­ful, mens­trua­tion begins about two weeks after ovu­la­tion. The begin­ning of mens­trua­tion marks the first day of a new cycle. Mens­trua­tion is a clean­sing pro­cess that is important for the body.

What happens to the body during menstruation?

During mens­trua­tion, the mon­thly build-up of the ute­rine lining is redu­ced again. The mens­trual blood and mens­trual tis­sue flow out of the ute­rus through the small ope­ning in the cer­vix. Mens­trua­tion is the mon­thly discharge of blood and muco­sal tis­sue that has built up in the ute­rine lining during the mens­trual cycle.

Myth menstrual blood, what’s really in it?

Strictly spea­king, mens­trual blood is not just blood, but rather a mix­ture of blood, dischar­ged ute­rine lining, the unfer­ti­li­sed egg and cer­vi­cal mucus. Other dead cells are also found in the mix. For this rea­son, the mens­trual blood is not com­ple­tely liquid, but rather car­ries small bits or clumps with it as well. The bet­ter term for mens­trual blood would pro­bably be mens­trual flow. You can see the dif­fe­rent con­sis­ten­cies par­ti­cu­larly well if you use a mens­trual cup. With a cup, ever­ything is first collec­ted in a con­tai­ner and the mens­trual fluid is not directly absor­bed, as it hap­pens with tampons.

Und wel­che Farbe hat dein Menstruationsblut?

What color should the menstrual blood be?

The colo­ra­tion of the mens­trual blood can range from light red to bloody red. Brown to almost black are also pos­si­ble colours. Howe­ver, atten­tion should be paid here. The colour of your mens­trual blood can tell you a lot about your health. At the begin­ning of your mens­trua­tion, the blood is still fresh and usually bright red. At the end of your period, the colour of the mens­trual flow turns to red­dish-brown. The colour change is rela­ted to how fresh or ‘old’ the mens­trual blood is and whe­ther the blood has already reac­ted with oxy­gen. The hea­vi­ness of the mens­trua­tion also influ­en­ces the colour of the mens­trual fluid. For example, if the blee­ding is hea­vier, the mens­trual blood is dark red with small clumps. During a ligh­ter period, the colour is light pink. Slight spot­ting immedia­tely before mens­trua­tion, also cal­led pre­mens­trual blee­ding, is often brownish.

How much blood do I lose per period?

On average, around 35 mil­li­li­tres of blood are lost per mens­trua­tion. Such num­bers are somehow always dif­fi­cult to grasp. To be able to ima­gine it bet­ter: 35 ml cor­re­spond to about two to three tablespoons! But ever­ything bet­ween 10 and 80 ml blood loss per mens­trua­tion is nor­mal. So you should have at least one tablespoon of blood a month and it could be up to six tablespoons. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? If you use a mens­trual cup, you can pay atten­tion to how much blood you really lose during your next mens­trua­tion. Mens­trual cups usually have a capa­city of 10-25 ml.
People who have an ele­va­ted est­ro­gen level usually bleed more due to the unba­lan­ced hor­mone levels. Gynae­co­lo­gi­cal dise­a­ses, such as endo­me­trio­sis, can addi­tio­nally incre­ase mens­trual blee­ding. People with a low oes­tro­gen level, on the other hand, have rela­tively mild bleeding.

Have you ever been more intensively involved with your period?

Your mens­trua­tion is your mon­thly and free-of-charge health check. Espe­cially the colour and the hea­vi­ness of your period can be an indi­ca­tor for health pro­blems. It is the­re­fore worth kee­ping an eye on your mens­trua­tion and taking notes of any chan­ges. Do you have any other ques­ti­ons about your mens­trua­tion? Then feel free to use the com­ment func­tion or write us a pri­vate mes­sage!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.