Menstruation is the periodic bleeding from the uterus. The period represents the development of an egg cell by the ovaries and the passing of this egg cell into the uterus. The uterus gets ready for the egg cell by a congestion, and the bleeding is the sign that there has not been a pregnancy and that the congestion is disappearing from the uterus. In fact, one poetic doctor said that menstruation is the weeping of the uterus at its failure to become pregnant. Girls in the United States mature between twelve and sixteen years of age, although some are earlier and some later. In other countries girls may mature much sooner – this apparently being true in the hot countries. Failure to menstruate may be associated with a variety of symptoms. If the appearances of maturity are unusually delayed, a young girl should be taken to the doctor for a careful and complete examination to find out the cause.
When pregnancy occurs, menstruation stops until after the child is born.
Formerly, many girls were incapacitated during menstruation because of pain and, customarily, sedatives and pain-relieving drugs were used. The newer attitude toward this normal function has freed women from this terror, and dysmenorrhea is not as frequent as formerly. The relationship between the mind and menstruation is more clearly established and a condition known as premenstrual tension has been described, for which special treatment is also available. Ordinarily a young woman need not change her habits greatly during this period. Most doctors believe that strenuous exercise should be avoided, tub baths may not be desirable, but many women do not permit menstruation to interfere with any of their ordinary habits.