Periods get worse with age

Female cycle: this is how periods change with age

Every day again: the monthly cycle for women accompanies them half their lives. But how does the female cycle actually change with age? What menstrual cramps can occur and what happens during menopause.

Sometimes it is strong, sometimes weak, sometimes painful or bearable: menstruation differs from woman to woman and changes depending on the phase of life and age. However, they all have one thing in common (unfortunately): The older women get, the more menstrual cramps and cycle fluctuations can occur.

You can find out here how the female cycle actually works, how women experience menstruation between the ages of 30 and 50 and which relaxation exercises can help with menstrual cramps.

Female cycle: this is how it works

The menstrual cycle is roughly divided into two phases: from the beginning of menstruation to ovulation and from ovulation to the next menstruation. The female cycle starts on the first day of menstrual bleeding, which can last between three and five days, sometimes longer, depending on the woman (desquamation phase).

After the desquamation phase, the estrogen level rises, which among other things leads to the build-up of the uterine lining. At the same time, the anterior pituitary gland (part of the pituitary gland) secretes the hormone FSH so that a new egg cell can grow in a follicle (proliferation phase).

At the end of the proliferation phase, ovulation of the mature egg cell is triggered by a sharp increase in the hormones FSH and LH and a drop in the level of estrogen. The follicle bursts - ovulation takes place. Now is the time when the egg can be fertilized within about 24 hours. It migrates via the fallopian tubes towards the uterus within about three to four days.

By no means all women ovulate on the 14th day of their cycle - ovulation can also be earlier or later. The days around ovulation are your fertile days.

After ovulation, the so-called corpus luteum phase begins - it is named after the yellowish-looking follicle that burst during ovulation and produces the hormone progesterone in the second half of the cycle. This corpus luteum hormone ensures, among other things, that the body temperature rises slightly and the lining of the uterus is built up in such a way that a fertilized egg can nestle in it (secretion phase).

If no fertilized egg has implanted, the hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease again, so that the lining of the uterus slowly loosens and is excreted with the menstrual bleeding.

5 numbers about the female cycle

  • Women lose about during menstrual bleeding 50 milliliters of blood.
  • Sperm move around four millimeters per minute - this means that it sometimes takes hours to reach the egg for fertilization.
  • Statistically speaking, the age at which girls have their first menstrual period (menarche) has decreased in the last 100 years - and the time span in which menarche occurs has also decreased: Most women were still between in the middle of the 19th century 12.5 and 21.5 years old, so they menstruate between ages nowadays 11 and 15 years for the first time.
  • A particularly strong form of PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, is also associated with psychological impairments and has been around for the year 2000 recognized as an independent disease.
  • With the onset of puberty, the number of egg cells in the ovaries drops to about 300,000 to 400,000 estimated. This number is reduced by around 1,000 eggs per month per menstrual cycle.

Slight cycle fluctuations are normal

Many women assume that the female cycle is around four weeks, i.e. 28 days. Those who take the pill usually do too. But for most women who do not use hormonal contraceptives, the length of the cycle varies greatly.

The phase lasts maybe only 26 days for one month, in the following month it can be that the cycle lasts over 30 days. So don't worry: it is quite normal that it doesn't always take exactly four weeks from one menstrual period to the next.

The reasons for cycle fluctuations are different, among others these factors can be responsible:

  • stress
  • Diseases
  • Medication
  • Diet (diet or illnesses such as anorexia)
  • Obesity or significant weight fluctuations
  • Stopping the pill

If you have severe cycle fluctuations, if you miss your period, or if the bleeding is very heavy, see your gynecologist. This can help you to clarify the causes.

Female cycle up to menopause

Periods are often irregular in the teenage years. By contrast, the female cycle has often leveled off around the age of 20. Until their 30s, most women experience a relatively fixed rhythm in their menstrual cycle - unless they become pregnant.

Because with a pregnancy the menstrual period stops. When the body recovers a little after childbirth and breastfeeding and the hormone levels return to normal, the menstrual cycle begins again.

In many women from the age of 30, menstrual cramps, some of them stronger, occur more frequently, which are covered by the term Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

In addition to physical complaints such as pain in the abdomen, back or head, edema formation, gas or bloating, psychological complaints such as listlessness or depressive moods can also occur. (Attention: If severe or persistent physical or psychological impairments occur, please consult a doctor).

The exact cause of PMS has not yet been adequately researched. Scientists suspect that, among other things, the sharp drop in the mood-enhancing messenger substance serotonin shortly before the start of menstruation could be responsible for PMS. However, PMS can also be favored by an unhealthy lifestyle.

It is therefore particularly important for women who suffer from severe menstrual cramps to avoid anything that is very sugary, as well as coffee, alcohol and nicotine. Physical activity and a healthy diet can also help prevent the symptoms from becoming too severe.

From the age of 40, there may be cycle fluctuations that occur with the onset of Menopause can be related. The function of the ovaries gradually declines. This can lead to different changes in the cycle, for example, affecting the length of the cycle, the duration of the menstruation and the amount of bleeding.

When the menopause approaches, women can suffer from psychological complaints, among other things - mood swings, sleep disorders and irritability are not uncommon.

Exercise can help: for example, going for a 30-minute walk five times a week or moderate endurance training for at least 75 minutes a week. Those who tend to be unsportsmanlike or suffer from a chronic illness should consult a doctor beforehand.

The menopause, also known as climacteric, often announces itself before the age of 50 and can last for different lengths of time. They mark a transition period and end in the menopause.

Over time, the ovaries produce fewer and fewer sex hormones, ovulation becomes less frequent, and finally menstruation stops completely. If there is no more menstrual period within twelve months, the postmenopause is ushered in. In the postmenopause, the woman can no longer get pregnant.

Do you have any questions about the female cycle? Then please contact our AOK experts with confidence. In the "Partnership & Sexuality" forum you can anonymously ask your question and you will receive an answer quickly and reliably. Click here for the AOK expert forum.

Stay relaxed: 3 tips for menstrual cramps

Do you feel listless before or during your period, do you have abdominal pain or just not feeling well? Then listen to your body and give it what it needs right now. Relaxation exercises can help particularly well. Here are three tips for you to relax more easily if you suffer from menstrual cramps:

  • Allow yourself a break and relax with exercises that can strengthen you internally and guide you through everyday life mindfully. You can find suitable exercises, for example, in the “Lebe Balance” podcast from AOK Baden-Württemberg - wherever there are podcasts.
  • From yoga to qigong to mindfulness courses: there is also more relaxation in the health courses of the AOK Baden-Württemberg - register now for a course near you.
  • Have you heard of ASMR before? With the crackling and crackling films, many people can wonderfully switch off from everyday life and come to rest. Find out what ASMR is and how it can help here.

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