by Clara Correa
Life begins in the womb, our first physical experience originates right here. The womb, the uterus together with the ovaries are the women’s most sacred and powerful organs, which, together with the sperm, create life. The health of the women’s reproductive organs is essential for a healthy life
and for the reproduction of our species. Menstruation is a normal physiological process and is evidence of a woman’s fertility, which is evidence of her baseline good health1. Most women of reproductive age have some physical discomfort during the weeks before menstruation. Symptoms can be mild but they can be severe enough to affect daily activities2. This review of literature is focused on the understanding of the normal menstrual cycle and the premenstrual syndrome from an Ayurvedic and Western perspective.
THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE FROM A WESTERN PERSPECTIVE
The menstrual cycle is a series of natural changes in a women’s reproductive organs. The biology is a complex, coordinated sequence of events involving the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary gland, ovary and endometrium. It begins at puberty, ranging from age 10 to 16, and ends at menopause at an average of age 51. The women’s reproductive system shows regular cyclic changes that prepare the body for pregnancy and fertilization. If pregnancy does not occur, vaginal bleeding occurs, the shedding of the uterine lining (menstruation)3. The menstrual cycle can be easily disturbed by environmental factors such as stress, extreme exercise, eating disorders and obesity4. Although the most obvious and known reason for a woman’s cycle is fertility, menstruation has other beneficial effects, as Dr. Claudia Welch states in her book, a woman’s menstrual cycle may have evolved in part to protect the health of her reproductive organs.The menstrual blood is full of immune cells and is the only blood in the body that doesn’t clot. When menstrual blood flows, it bathes and cleanses the uterus, cervix and vagina with its antibacterial and antiviral properties5. For a better understanding of this complex cycle, it can be divided into phases, each phase has a particular hormonal role and specific organ changes