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Menstruation and Menopause
The menstrual cycle is the process by which a woman's body gets ready for the chance of a pregnancy each month. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days from the start of one to the start of the next, but it can range from 21 days to 35 days.
Most menstrual periods last from three to five days. In the United States, most girls start menstruating at age 12, but girls can start menstruating between the ages of 8 and 16.
Pregnancy and preconception care
Pregnancy is the term used to describe when a woman has a growing fetus inside of her. In most cases, the fetus grows in the uterus.
Human pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, or just more than 9 months, from the start of the last menstrual period to childbirth.
What are prenatal and preconception care and why are they important?
In addition, health care providers are now recommending a woman see a health care provider for preconception care, even before she considers becoming pregnant or in between pregnancies.
Both preconception care and prenatal care help to promote the best health outcomes for mother and baby.
Quick GuideConception: The Amazing Journey from Egg to Embryo
Fertility and Infertility
In women, the term is used to describe those who are of normal childbearing age, not those who can't get pregnant because they are near or past menopause. Women who are able to get pregnant but who cannot carry a pregnancy to term (birth) may also be considered infertile.
Infertility is a complex problem – it does not have a single cause because getting pregnant is a multi-step chain of events. The cause of infertility can rest in the women or the man, or can be from unknown factors or a combination of factors.
- Barrier methods, such as condoms, the
the cervical cap, are designed to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg for
- Intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small device that is inserted into the
uterus by a health care provider. The IUD prevents a fertilized egg from
implanting in the uterus. An IUD can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years until
it is removed by a health care provider.
- Hormonal birth control, such as
birth control pills, injections, skin
patches, and vaginal rings, release hormones into a woman's body that interfere
with fertility by preventing
ovulation, fertilization, or
- Sterilization is a method that permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant. Sterilization involves surgical procedures that must be done by a health care provider and usually cannot be reversed.
The choice of birth control depends on factors such as a person's overall health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases. A woman should talk to her health care provider about her choice of birth control method.
Sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS/HIV
SOURCE: National Institute of Child and Health and Human Development; "Reproductive Health."
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Top Reproductive Health Related Articles
Barrier Methods of Birth ControlBarrier methods of birth control include:
- male condom,
- female condom,
- contraceptive sponge,
- diaphragm, and
- the cervical cap.
Hormonal Methods of Birth ControlThere are several different hormonal methods of birth control. The hormones can be estrogen and/or progesterone. The hormones can be taken by mouth, implanted into body tissue, absorbed from a patch on the skin, injected under the skin, or placed in the vagina. Common types of hormonal birth control include: "The Pill" (oral contraceptives), injection (Depo-Provera, Lunelle), the patch (Ortho-Evra), and the vaginal ring (Nuvaring).
Infertility QuizWhat is the medical definition of infertility? Take the Infertility Quiz to learn the risks and treatment of infertility. Our answers may surprise you!
Infertility TreatmentLearn about infertility symptoms and types of treatment such as IVF, acupuncture, and natural methods to get pregnant. Read about infertility in men and women as well as treatment costs and success rates.
IUDThe IUD (intrauterine device) is a birth control method designed for a woman. The IUD is a small "T" made of molded polyethylene plastic coated with barium so that, if need be, it can be seen on X-ray. There are two types of IUDs 1) Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) including the ParaGard, Copper 7, and Mini-7; and 2) Intrauterine system (IUS) including Progestasert and Mirena. Side effects of the IUD include spotting, infection, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Risks and complications of the IUD are miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and increased menstrual bleeding.
MenopauseMenopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and emotional symptoms such as mood swings. Treatment of menopausal symptoms varies, and should be discussed with your physician.
MenstruationMenstruation (menstrual cycle) is also referred to as a "period." When a woman menstruates, the lining of the uterus is shed. This shedding of the uterine linking is the menstrual blood flow. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. There can be problems with a woman's period, including heavy bleeding, pain, or skipped periods. Causes of these problems may be amenorrhea (lack fo a period), menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), or abnormal vaginal or uterine bleeding. There are a variety of situations in which a girl or woman should see a doctor about her menstrual cycle.
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include
breast swelling and tenderness,
- nausea and sometimes vomiting,
- fatigue, and
Second trimester symptoms include
- weight gain,
- itching, and
- possible stretch marks.
Third trimester symptoms are
- additional weight gain,
- swelling of the ankles,
- fingers, and face,
- breast tenderness, and
- trouble sleeping.
Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy: Multiple Births, Twins, Triplets, and MoreMultiple births occur when a woman bears twins, triplets, or even more babies during pregnancy. More multiples are born today thanks to assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization using fertility drugs. Women carrying multiples often give birth via C-section.
Pregnancy Symptoms Am I PregnantPregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Sex-Drive KillersNoticing a lack of intimacy with your partner? Here we explore how stress, lack of sleep, weight gain, depression and low T can cause low sex drive in men and women.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs In Women)
Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are infections that are transmitted during any type of sexual exposure, including intercourse (vaginal or anal), oral sex, and the sharing of sexual devices, such as vibrators. Women can contract all of the STDs, but may have no symptoms, or have different symptoms than men do. Common STDs in women are:
- Zika virus
- Genital herpes
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Pubic lice
- Genital warts
Treatment for STDs depends upon the type.
STDs in Men Overview
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. STDs in men cause no symptoms or symptoms like
genital burning, itching, sores, rashes, or discharge.
Common infections that are sexually transmitted in men include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C and B, genital warts, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genital herpes.
Some STDs in men are treatable while others are not. STDs are diagnosed with tests that identify proteins or genetic material of the organisms causing the infection. The prognosis of an STD depends on whether the infection is treatable or not. Use of latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
Surgical SterilizationSurgical sterilization is considered a permanent method of contraception. In certain cases, sterilization can be reversed, but this is not guaranteed. For this reason, sterilization is meant for men and women who do not intend to have children in the future. Types of surgical sterilization include: vasectomy, tubal ligation, STOP (selective tubal occlusion procedure), and hysterectomy.