Puberty is a trying time in the lives of adolescent girls. It tends to affect them in a bunch of different ways, the first of which being emotional. One day a pubescent girl will be gleefully happy, the next she'll be angry and sullen. One thing that all girls (excepting those with certain medical conditions) have to face during puberty is menstruation.
Menstruation is often referred to "as becoming a woman", since it indicates fertility. During this process, an egg is released once a month. Generally, this is the body's way of preparing itself for pregnancy. When the egg is unfertilized, it ruptures and sheds – hence the menstruation.
Girls start to menstruate or "get their periods" anywhere between the ages of 11 and16. Usually the first sign of menstruation is cramps. These cramps occur because the muscles are contracting to push the unfertilized egg out of the uterus. The cramps start about two weeks before the actual menstruation cycle. Luckily, there are various over-the-counter medications that help lessen the cramps, as well as any bloating that might occur.
Interestingly enough, the subject of fertility and menstruation has been dealt with in different ways. In India, for example, the woman is regarded as being unclean during her menstruation cycle, and is sent to live in a certain area, away from the rest of the village, with other menstruating females until her cycle is over.
Fertility is a scared part of the Native American culture. It is celebrated in their art and in their ceremonies. It is thought by the Native Americans that while a woman is menstruating, she is especially powerful psychically. When a girl starts her cycle for the first time, she participates in a ceremony to that effect.
Aside from the various cultural rituals of international groups, it is interesting to see how the topic of fertility has evolved within American society. Back in the Victorian days, menstruation and pregnancy were not topics that were discussed among polite society.
When a woman became pregnant, she went into confinement as soon as she began showing. It didn't matter how respectable she was, she had to stay in her home until the baby was born. After all, to the Victorians, the vision of a pregnant woman immediately brought to mind what had happened between her and a man to place her "in the family way."
Things have definitely changed nowadays. Sex is a part of everyday life – it's on television, in magazines and newspapers, and even indicated by the clothing that is worn. So, it comes as no surprise that there are numerous advertisements for feminine pads and tampons, as well as home pregnancy tests.
The fashion industry has also started to cater to pregnant women. Not so long ago, the standard attire for pregnant women was large, baggy shirts, bottoms, and dresses – comfort was key, not fashion. Well, pregnant women decided that wasn't much fun at all, and began pushing for mope fashion-forward designs. Women now celebrate their pregnancies with outfits that clearly define their curves.
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