All about menstrual blood
All you’ve ever wanted to know about your periods but that you’ve never dared to ask or to read up on
How to accept and love a body that bleeds once a month ?
When will a woman’s health and intimacy be considered with far more esteem and appreciation?
Periods… yes I know all about them… at least I think so!
Yes, you’re obviously aware that every month you loose blood… but do you know that women are on average menstruated for 42 years. With 13 periods per year, that makes up 520 periods… Maybe it’d be a good idea to find out what really goes on.
As a woman, our menstrual cycle prepares us every month for a potential pregnancy. Thanks to our hormones, the uterus thickens and becomes vascularised (increased blood flow) in preparation for receiving a fertilised egg. If no fertilisation takes place, the uterus goes back to its initial state and releases the blood from its tissues, i.e. you have your period which lasts for 3 to 7 days.
Menstrual blood: it’s not what you think it is and
it’s certainly not “dirty”
Menstrual bloodis mainly composed of blood, old parts of uterine tissue, cells from the mucus lining of the vagina and bacteria making up the vaginal flora.
Menstrual blood is different from normal blood due to its composition and its physical properties.
Put another way, menstrual blood is blood mixed with secretions from the vagina and cervix, old cellular tissue, red blood cells and mucin. The composition of this mixture varies according to the various phases of menstruation which starts with an opaque liquid stage, followed by a thicker stage and then a clear liquid.
The content of menstrual blood varies from one woman to another, from one cycle to another and depends on the woman’s age. The thickness of the uterus will also have an effect on the content of menstrual blood.
Vaginal secretions that are present in menstrual blood are mostly made up of water and electrolytes such as Sodium or Potassium.
The various substances making up menstrual blood are found in a lower concentration than in ordinary blood, for example, there is more water, less iron and less haemoglobin. The pH level of menstrual blood is similar to that of ordinary blood (7,2).
The concentration of proteins, cholesterol and bilirubin are also lower than in ordinary blood.
Menstrual blood however does not contain elements that are necessary for coagulation and so therefore remains liquid and does not coagulate neither in the body, nor outside.The three elements necessary for coagulation are not present in menstrual blood (prothrombin, thrombin and fibrinogen). Menstrual blood contains many elements which keep the blood thin.
The number of blood platelets is also less than in ordinary blood. The thickness of menstrual blood varies from day to day, from one woman to another and according to the composition of the blood and the presence of mucin. Menstrual blood is generally thicker than water and ordinary blood.
The thickness of menstrual blood is also dependant on the quantity of cervical secretions.
Tampons and the risks they present
Article published in the French magazine “Alternative Santé”, issue 348
Disposable inserts used internally (tampons) first appeared in the United States in the 1930’s and the first Tampax dates back to 1936. It was only in 1951 that tampons first arrived in France and disposable sanitary towels first appeared in 1960.
In 1980, the first sanitary health alert concerning tampons was made public: toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare disease, but a serious and sometimes lethal one, caused by toxins and the increase in golden staphylococcus. This disease has been linked to the use of tampons even though they are not the only cause. This therefore led the tampon manufacturers to indicate various precautions for tampon use, such as the fact that a tampon should not be used for longer than 8 hours… 8 hours is already far too long.
In 1995, the second health warning was made public, this time in relation to dioxins: the chlorine bleaching process leaves traces ofpotentially carcinogenic dioxins in the tampons and sanitary towels. The various disposable tampons and sanitary towels are made from cotton, rayon or a mix of the two.
Rayon, initially manufactured from cellulose fibre was bleached using chlorine for a long time. This bleaching process is now done using oxygen (totally chlorine-free now) and therefore enables manufacturers to ensure that their products present no more risks and for doctors to accept them. With the enormous quantities of feminine hygienic products used by women throughout their lives, a precautionary approach should have been implemented far sooner.
Rayon, this synthetic fibre (highly absorbent and abrasive) also causes micro lesions which therefore increase the absorption of toxins by the body. The presence of rayon in tampons is supposedly the cause of toxic shock syndrome.
But that’s not all… sanitary towels and tampons also contain aluminium, various alcohols, perfume additives, hydrocarbons (from the petro-chemical industry), fungicides and anti-bacterial products. These products (particularly plastic and perfume) can cause irritations and allergies.
Today, we should be aware of the massive amounts of pesticides used on cotton crops and the use of synthetic products in tampons and sanitary towels.
Precautionary measures when using tampons and sanitary towels
1. Don’t use tampons or sanitary towels when you don’t have your periods so as to ensure you preserve the protective vaginal flora that helps to fight against infection, etc.
2. Wash your hands before inserting or removing a tampon or a menstrual cup.
3. Change your tampon every 3 to 4 hours; at night at the end of your period or when your flow is light, preferably use a menstrual cup or plims.
4. Alternate the use of tampons and sanitary towels and even better :plim and menstrual cup.
5. Use tampons that have the lowest absorbency rate.
6. In the event of a sexually transmitted infection (STD), do NOT use a tampon.
7.Totally avoid using tampons at the end of your period, because they also absorb vaginal secretions.
8. Do not throw disposable tampons and sanitary towels or panty liners down the toilet. 90% of plumbing interventions for blocked toilets and drains are due to tampons, sanitary towels or toilet perfume blocks that have gone down the toilet. Let’s be honest, all this pollution ends up in our water and finally in rivers and oceans.
Fabulous waste !
When it comes to tampons and sanitary towels and panty liners, etc. waste management is nothing more than a joke.
These products take 500 years to degrade when you throw them away in Nature… otherwise they’re burned because they aren’t recycled. Over and above these products themselves, we shouldn’t forget all the rest – the individual plastic wrapping, the box and the tampon applicators made of cardboard or plastic. I’m amazed at the amount I find and pick up when I go hiking… and those that pollute our seas, oceans and beaches! Not to mention the tampons and applicators thrown down the toilets. They end up in the sea and create a number of problems for fish and other sea mammals.
You might like to know that a women uses between 10 000 and 20 000 such products in her lifetime… about the equivalent of one full room of about 8m3(4m3 for disposable diapers).
Keeping your hymen intact ?
From the Latin term “humen”: membrane. Mucous membrane (moist epithelial tissue: a covering) that totally separates the external vaginal orifice from the vagina in a virgin.
Hematocolpos: when the hymen has not been perforated, the accumulation of blood in the vagina, requiring the hymen to be surgically pierced in order to allow the evacuation of menstrual blood. Usually, the hymen is broken, allowing for your blood to flow during menstruation (menstrual blood). In some cases, there is a “malformation” in the hymen creating a form of collar, pierced with a number of small holes, etc. After her first sexual intercourse and her first baby, a woman’s hymen is torn and carunculae hymenalis (carnosities, soft tissue growths) remain.
The presence of hymen has for very long been considered to indicate virginity. In fact, this is all relative, since this soft membrane is very supple and stretches very easily. The breaking of the hymen is known as deflowering/defloration. Before the hymen forms carunculae hymenalis (see above), and after being torn, it retracts and forms soft tissue growths at the entrance to the vagina.