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#WhatIWishIKnew... About My Menstrual Cycle Blog Feature

Dr. Joshua Hurwitz, ReproductiveEndocrinologist and Partner at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT), joined us on Thursday, May 10th for a Twitter Question and Answer session entitled, "#WhatIWishIKnew... about my Menstrual Cycle". Throughout the session, Dr. Hurwitz addressed misconceptions that some of the RMACT staff members had about their menstrual cycle by clarifying why certain things occur leading up to and during THAT time of the month. Read on for the full interview.

RMACT: I wish I knew it was ok to get my period at a young age. I actually got my period for the first time in the 4th grade and felt completely unprepared.

Dr. Hurwitz: These days, girls are getting their periods at younger ages for many different reasons. The normal age range for a girl’s first period is 8-9 years old.

RMACT: I wish I knew why we bleed. I used to think my eggs were sharp and cutting up my tubes during ovulation. The bigger my cramps, the sharper I thought the egg must be.

Dr. Hurwitz: The bleeding that women experience is actually caused by the lining of their uterus shedding.

RMACT: I wish I knew why it always feels like my breasts are going to explode.

Dr. Hurwitz: Steep fluctuations of hormones, called estrogen and progesterone, from one period to the next effects hormonal sensitivity tissues.

RMACT: I wish I knew how real the mood swings were going to be and how to be better prepared for them.

Dr. Hurwitz: The sharp hormonal fluctuations that a woman experiences during her menstrual cycle can have psycho-emotional effects. What's important to note is that those experiences can differ from person to person and cycle to cycle.

RMACT: I wish I knew that a regular menstrual cycle doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a 28 day cycle.

Dr. Hurwitz: This is a common misconception; however, 95% of all women's menstrual cycles are between 25-35 days. It's important to note that a regular period does not need to be the same exact number of days per month. A normal physiology is +/- 2 to 4 days per month.

RMACT: I wish I knew what having an irregular period meant.

Dr. Hurwitz: An irregular menstrual cycle is considered anything fewer than 25 days or greater than 35 days, especially if you’re skipping months between cycles. It’s important to talk to your OBGYN about an irregular period, a painful period & any other health-related issues you might be experiencing.

RMACT: I wish I knew if I bleed first and then ovulate or do I ovulate and then bleed? I’m STILL confused!

Dr. Hurwitz: A woman ovulates first then bleeds.

RMACT: I wish I knew that ovulation can cause discharge. I freaked out for 3 years straight until I asked my mom. Now I just throw on a panty liner and conquer the day.

Dr. Hurwitz: Actually, ovulation does not cause discharge, estrogen does. The thin, white mucous that you are referring to happens around ovulation when a woman's estrogen level is at its highest, but the mucous does not mean you are ovulating. It just means that there is a high level of estrogen in your system because your follicles are growing.

RMACT: I wish I knew when I was supposed to get a pap smear for the first time.

Dr. Hurwitz: The ideal time to get your first pap smear is when you turn 21-years-old.

RMACT: I wish I knew that birth control pills helped with cramps. They should be called something else! Little 14-year-old me was SO embarrassed when my OBGYN told me I should get on them.

Dr. Hurwitz: Birth control pills help with cramping because they help to thin the uterine lining, which shortens the amount of days you bleed while decreasing cramps. Birth control pills are a very effective medical treatment against painful periods (dysmenorrhea) used by many types of physicians.

RMACT: Well, that's all the time we have for today. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Hurwitz. You have clarified a lot of misconceptions for us today.

Dr. Hurwitz: Thank you for having me. I do want to mention if any of our blog readers have additional questions and/or concerns regarding a woman's menstrual cycle, please comment on this blog and we'll be sure to address your questions.