For Better or For Worse: Understanding Your Normal Period

Monthly cycles are a woman’s companion, for 3-4 decades of her life, for better or for worse. Hormonal and mood changes associated with it have been the subject of many anecdotes and tales.

Many of us think of our cycles as unproductive times, both work-related as well as spiritually.

It doesn’t have to be so. Planning and prioritizing tasks can take the burden off from days that you don’t feel 100%.

Spiritually, it does not have to be a complete break, even though we don’t pray during our cycle. We can increase in remembrance of our Creator (dhikr) and other good deeds like charity.

What is a normal period?

A complaint I hear frequently is: “My periods are all over the place. I don’t have any pattern.”

Many of us have a preconception that there is a “date“ on which the cycle must start. If that’s not so there is a problem, and our cycle is irregular.

This is not true. 

Cycles can vary greatly and still be considered normal.

The monthly cycle starts on the first day of your last period and ends on the first day of your next period.

This can range from anything between 21-40 days. Periods normally last between 3-5 days, but again 2-7 days is a normal duration.

Then comes the actual flow. What some women consider normal, others may call heavy. 

If you see clots in the flow bigger than a penny, or you soak through and stain your clothes, your periods are heavy, and you may want to see your doctor.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com

When do periods start and when do they stop?

For most girls, menstrual cycles begin at the age of around 12. But girls are starting periods earlier and it is common to see girls as young as 9 or 10 having periods. Read here to learn more about when to seek medical help if your daughter or sister starts experiencing their periods early.
Menopause, or the time that periods pack up, is around the age of 51 but may vary from 45-55 years. If periods stop before the age of 40, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Some women would need either hormone supplements or medication to strengthen their bones.

Feeling moody before periods?

You are not the only one!

As many as 3 in 4 women can be moody for a week or sometimes two weeks before their period. You may also have headaches and bloating. 

Many women will miss work at some point in time because of severe PMS (Premenstrual syndrome).

However, this does not, entitle women to use this as an excuse to be disrespectful or uncompromising with others. A healthier approach is to find excuses for somebody who is moody when it is not in their nature to be so.

However, if you are feeling snappy and short-tempered, and you know it may be because of your hormones, explain to your near and dear ones how you are feeling to prevent misunderstandings.

An exaggerated form of PMS is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

Women experience the symptoms of PMS, but on more intense levels. Some may feel depressed, anxious and even suicidal. 

Do not ignore these symptoms in either yourself or a family member. Sometimes the one suffering from PMDD may not have insight into the severity of the problem and a close friend or family member may pick it up.

You need to refer yourself to emergency services, which may vary depending on the country where you reside. Most countries have emergency mental health services.

Changes in the pattern of your periods

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Each one of us recognizes what is normal for our cycle.

It is not unusual to have early or delayed periods, heavy or light periods for a couple of cycles. Stress may cause hormonal imbalances and it usually settles back into a normal pattern.

However, if your periods start getting heavier and you are above the age of 40, do see your doctor.

Spotting in between cycles is a common complaint. If there is any possibility of pregnancy at all, do a pregnancy test to read more about the causes of spotting in different age groups, read this article.

If periods start spacing out and becoming lighter near the age of 45, you are probably going through the menopausal phases. No need to worry!

Should menstrual leave be universal in workplaces?

Japan is one of the few countries where women are allowed a menstrual leave. This law has been in place for nearly 70 years. South Korea also allows women to take leave during their periods if they suffer severe pain or heavy periods. Despite being entitled to menstrual leave, a 2017 survey in Japan showed that only 9 in 1000 women claimed menstrual leave. The reason being, there is a stigma attached to the menstrual cycle and women do not like telling their male employers that they are off sick because they are menstruating.

India is one of the countries where there is a lot of shame associated with periods. In some rural areas, girls are not allowed to cook or touch people when they are menstruating!

“Girls in India typically miss 20% of the school year because of their period, and 70% of mothers consider menstruation ‘dirty,” according to a 2014 report by philanthropic organization Dasra. as quoted in an article in CNN in 2021.

No wonder Indian food delivery company, Zomato, made recent headlines when CEO Deepinder announced period leave for their female employees. Read the note here.

Shockingly, the biggest opponents of period leave is women!

Westernized countries are yet to offer period leave, although it has been debated.

Feminists have widely debated the matter and are divided if menstrual leave helps or hinders women in the workplace.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Befriend your monthly cycles and embrace your womanhood!

Understanding your cycle and accepting the changes that your body goes through will make you happier and productive. 

Focus on what you can do rather than the limitations.

For sporty sisters, don’t let your cycle dampen your spirits. Think of alternatives – treatment to control symptoms and be open with your trainers so that you can discuss options.

Working women need to adjust their commitments around their cycles if their periods hinder everyday life. There is still a lot of shame attached to admitting that you are unable to perform certain tasks effectively. It will take the collective effort of men and women to overcome this long-standing negative perception of periods and it’s connection to productivity.

Stay-at-home mums – tell your husband, children, and other family members if you are struggling and ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence. They don’t know till you tell them.

Be positive, be kind to yourself and spread positivity and kindness.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Umm Aasiya is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. She gave up clinical practice due to health and family issues in 2020. She uses her years of experience to share authentic medical knowledge. Her aim is to empower sisters through credible information, enabling them to make informed choices about their health. Her main focus is to connect with her Creator, learn and reflect upon the Quran as much as she can.
The rest of her time is spent looking after her husband, 3 lovely children and their cat, Lulu.
For more from Umm Aasiya, click here

#COLLAB: The Blind Date

It was like any other day, except on this day, I was having my first blind date. It seemed crazy at first when I signed up on an online dating site. That was where I met Han. His profile said pretty attractive things about him, like how he earned his first degree in Public relations and how he received numerous awards as an outstanding employee at his place of work. I thought he was attractive – judging from his display photo.

Our first conversation was a hit, it was as if we’d known each other forever. He sure had his way with words… I still remember my heart drowning at the tone of his voice. With one thing leading to another, we developed a strange but sweet attachment towards each other. Having a full picture of him in my imagination, I gathered up all the strength in me to meet Han for the very first time.It felt weird – but exciting! It had been my first time on a blind date and I had to wrestle my thoughts on what and what not to wear, “It has to be perfect”, reassuring myself over and over again. “I’m prepared for this”, I told myself.
Just like a dream my first blind date was a hit – we met, and it turned out he was super cute in person. He did most of the talking while I drowned in his dimples, staring all throughout, he was a perfect gentleman… or so I thought.The greatest happiness comes from loving and being loved back. I wasn’t sure where this love will lead me, but I was super sure I didn’t want to be awoken from this fairytale. With every other thing seeming less important.

I stood frozen. Watching my world fall apart right before my eyes. I couldn’t help the tears from falling as I walked towards his sick bed.I watched him; struggling through every breath, with the doctor’s words replaying in my mind – could this really be the end.
I understood it would be the end of the heart disease he’d been suffering from for the past ten years (with two procedures), but could this really be the end of us? I cried. The tears kept rolling as I held onto his hands, struggling with my heart to say a silent prayer for our last moments together. Watching those eyes that melted my heart and those dimples that drowned my soul, I watched him choke unto his last breath.
He died in my arms; leaving me to myself; alone in a world that now feels empty.
He had been an orphan since birth and grew up in an orphanage, which he followed suit into a successful life. Every bit of our moments together, became memories that wet my eyes.
I fell in love by accident and now I’m not sure I’ll recover from its injures.

Maryam Jimoh, freelance writer.

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I’m a freelance writer from Nigeria, I love meeting new people (Muslims in particular) and engaging in Islamic activities. I’m a public speaker, a teacher, humanitarian, and explorer. Nature lover and a biologist – I carry out volunteer services and I’m a passionate lover of knowledge. 


I Tried An Eco-Friendly Cloth Pad! And It Was Weird!

So as of recent I’ve tried to become more one-with-nature-esque. And it’s a sort of dream of mine to reach that level of hippieness; where my house can be self-sufficient on some level, growing and harvesting our own produce, relying on the sun for electricity and saving water. 
So we installed solar panels, water tanks to collect rain water, we cut down on our water usage and recycled everything we could. Even throwing organic scraps onto the garden beds. So I was pretty chuffed with the progress we’d been making in lowering our “damage” to the planet.
BBUUTTT… Just as quickly as anties pounce on single ladies, my dreams swiftly came crashing down… Because you see, I was sure we had all the basics covered. All the things that do real harm to the Mother of Earth, I thought we sorted it out. Guess what? There was one thing I didn’t even consider.


This evil. This demonic ritual that sites the rite of passage into big-girl-hood was the last thing I thought of. MY PERIOD! Ugh! This was an absolute  blow to the uterus that nearly exploded my ovaries, as it does literally every month. (Well, not every month, but you get the idea.)

Now, here are the bloody details. My period is generally not that bad. The first day, as per usually, is a kind of heavy flow and then the next six-or-so days are pretty manageable. And my preferred choice of menstrual product are pads. I’ve never used tampons before or literally anything else for that matter, it’s all because of limited knowledge, my mom never used it and I’ve never been in a situation where I was like “damn…I wish I had a tampon in my vagina instead”.
So, from that being said; you can now understand why I was mortified that I will never be able to reach peak hippie stardom with my pads. But in case you have no idea how pads work (if you’re some dude, reading about lady bits and the bits we use for our bits) or if I just haven’t been clear. You need more than one pad – per few hours. And if your flow is super heavy, like a menstrual ice cap just melted and is now flowing faster than the currents of the Artic in Summer, then you sometimes have to construct a makeshift diaper and change that several times – like when you get it for the first time or are using certain birthcontrol methods.

 

And not only does that end up being super expensive!  But, your used rags aren’t exactly recyclable, let alone reusable (eww!) But the same applies to tampons too. You need to change them – more than once! To put this into perspective, let’s say you use pads. And you bleed for a total of six days. Your first three days are pretty shi**y and it feels like the “rains down in Africa” is happening on repeat down in your Africa. The other three are pretty understandable and they understand that a girl needs to cope! So for the first three days, you’ve probably used around ten pads already. Three or so per day. That’s not an unreasonable estimation. Then for the last three, you’ve used around seven pads. For only six days, you’ve used seventeen pads. That’s more than double the number of days! And this is no joke, a woman will use roughly 16,000 pads in her lifetime!
Do you understand that!? There are more zeros in my pad usage counter than there will ever be in my bank account. My vagina has more zeros than I ever will! Damn!


And all of that. All sixteen thousand of those pads are going straight. Into. A. Landfill. The average woman, who starts menstruation at 13 and then goes into menopause at 51, has about 456 periods ( 38yrs x 12 = 456mnths. Approx 456 periods. Given that she had a period every month, which we all know is untrue, but hey let’s just role with it). Plus, how cool is the blog that does their Maths. I vote “Pretty Damn Cool”! Now take that horrible 16,000 and multiply is by that ghastly 456, we get a fallopian tube busting 7,296,000! That’s how much an average women is adding to every landfill by the time she reaches fifty. And no, it’s not her fault! I mean it’s her period, it’s mine and it’s our periods! We don’t necessarily have a choice over the matter, but we do have a choice over what we use.


And so, after much shock and retail therapy, I decided that a change was needed. I started looking at alternatives. It needed to be simple, but not anything similar to what our great grandmothers used. Aaannnddd…it needed to be eco-friendly and offer the same liquid absorbant action to catch all the blue liquids. And there are two: a menstrual cup/ moon cup/ diva cup and there are period panties or cloth pads. 

Now, a I said earlier, I have never used tampons, let alone inserted anything up (down?) there. So the cup were a bit of a hit and miss. But more like a hit and run in my case. But they are super cool and if you’re looking for an alternative to tampons or pads (and you’ve used tampons before) or are simply an environment diva then the menstrual cup is amazing!And if you’d like me to write a more elaborate article on different menstrual products, then leave a comment down below or send me a message under the ‘Contact Me’ tab!
As the cup seemed a bit extreme for me, I when with the cloth pad. And they were, surprisingly, pretty good! I know right!? No sarcastic remarks? Nope! No rude analogies? Nah! What, really!? Yep!
Well, it wasn’t exactly great, but it worked out better than I expected! I made from all natural cotton, the bottom is lined in a waterproof outer part and the inner part is lined with a soft and smooth cloth. No itchiness of any kind. It is completely odourless, so there are no potentially harmful chemicals that could mess with your delicate vulva skin or cause infections. Because the cotton part was nice and thick and super comfy, I didn’t feel it – for the most part at least.Well, it wasn’t exactly great, but it worked out better than I expected! I made from all natural cotton, the bottom is lined in a waterproof outer part and the inner part is lined with a soft and smooth cloth. No itchiness of any kind. It is completely odourless, so there are no potentially harmful chemicals that could mess with your delicate vulva skin or cause infections. Because the cotton part was nice and thick and super comfy, I didn’t feel it – for the most part at least.
Because the back part, the part that goes against your panty isn’t sticky like pads are, mine moved a bit and most of the time covered my butt instead of sucking up blood. They do come with wings that clip around your underwear and these work really well, never came loose or undone. Another downside (it’s not that major) is the washing bit. You need to wash them out. 

 

Mine were at least kind to me, they were black so you couldn’t and didn’t have to see all the gross things that came out of you, but once I started washing it… Let’s just say, I’ve conquered a new kind of brave. So you gotta wash them, big deal! I’d rather be dealing with that, than the thought of my bloody (literally) used pad leaking harmful chemicals and polluting our drinking water.
We are going towards a new age of technology, I think it’s time our periods got an upgrade too. 

*Thank you so much for reading, please leave a comment on what thought about this topic and if I should do more period stuff 😉