THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE

As those with MRKH do not experience period blood it can be hard to get in touch with our bodies and hormones to fully understand the cycle we are on. That's right, because we have ovaries and produce "female" hormones our bodies also go through the menstrual cycle (but not all of it!). Understanding your body is a powerful tool to understand your mental health and wellbeing. 

It can be common to experience feelings of depression during your cycle which may actually be hormone related. For those who bleed it can be easier to understand their emotions, but when you don't it can be more difficult to match emotions to your cycle and therefore difficult to know when you're genuinely feeling sad and depressed compared to your natural hormones swaying you!

How does the cycle work for someone who DOES NOT have MRKH? 

The length of the menstrual cycle varies for everyone. The average is to have a period (the bleeding part) every 28 days but this can vary from between 21 and 40 days. The average age of starting a period is around 12. (As per the NHS). Read more below. 

 

WITHOUT MRKH

This is the anatomy of someone who does not have any reproductive conditions or differences in development.

There are:

2 ovaries where eggs are stored, created and let go. You are born with all the eggs you will ever have. 

The uterus (Womb) - this is where a fertilised egg will settle once released, waiting for a sperm. This is also where a baby would develop. 


The cervix - this is the entrance to the womb and it protects it from infections. Cervical discharge also helps clean the vagina and get rid of anything unwanted. 


The vagina- the canal leading to the cervix.  

The menstrual cycle is all about hormones.


When levels of oestrogen rise the ovary develops and releases an egg (ovulation). This is the most fertile stage.

The lining of the uterus then starts to get thicker. 

The egg then makes it way down the fallopian tubes. When there's no pregnancy (no sperm to latch onto) the egg is then reabsorbed and disappears into the body. 

At this stage the levels of oestrogen and progesterone reduce and the lining of the uterus starts to shed. This is what leaves the body as "period" blood. 


A period lasts from around 2-7 days and 3-5 tablespoons of blood is lost. 

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WITH MRKH

There are many variations of MRKH anatomy. We aren't providing medical advice so we do suggest asking your doctor or gynaecologist.

There are (usually) 

2 ovaries where eggs are stored, created and let go. You are born with all the eggs you will ever have. 

Sometimes remnants of a uterus (non functional)

Part of the vaginal canal which closes at the top (the vaginal wall is fused) and does not connect to a cervix. (There are some variations in MRKH that may mean an underdeveloped cervix too, so please seek medical advice). 

So here's the steps for someone with MRKH...


When levels of oestrogen rise the ovary develops and releases an egg (ovulation). This is the most fertile stage and for those starting a family, when best to retrieve an egg for IVF. 

If you have uterus remnants the lining may start to react during your cycle. (Some people with MRKH have suffered from endometriosis too). If you do not have any parts of a uterus, this would not happen.

The egg will either disappear straight away (if no tubes at all), or travel down the tubes but as there is no functioning uterus to cling onto, so the egg is then reabsorbed and disappears into the body. 

The levels of oestrogen and progesterone will still reduce and there may be some internal shedding depending on each variation of MRKH but no blood as we do not have a vaginal canal. Please seek medical advice for your advice on your unique body. 

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TRACKING YOUR CYCLE

A lot of the time people see cycle tracking purely for people trying to have a baby, but tracking your cycle can just be a great way to get to know your body and give your emotions the space they deserve! After all, you are a human going through hormonal changes just like people who bleed during periods, the only difference really is you don't bleed. The language on cycle tracking brands can be quite off-putting or triggering as it's usually surrounding fertility and getting pregnant. 

Ellamae talks about this in the book Moody by Amy Story. 

There are many things you can track to help you understand your body and many ways to do it. 

One way is to track symptoms by looking out for things that might be linked to ovulation and see if you get them around the same days of each month. 

What to look or feel out for:

  • Tender boobs

  • Mild ache or pain in the lower abdomen

  • Heightened sense of smell (yes a strange one but it's true!)

  • Body temperature - before ovulation your resting body temperature may spike. 

  • Emotions or feeling lower than usual or crying.  

  • Sex drive increase (AKA Libido!)

TRACKER PRINT OUT COMING SOON. Apps to download 

  • Moody month

  • Clue

Many also use ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), which can tell you when you have an increased levels of luteinising hormone (LH) in your urine before you ovulate. This is the hormone that triggers the release of an egg from the ovary.  These look a little like pregnancy tests and again, language on the kits focus on "women trying to get pregnant" but they are for anyone who just wants to get to know their body! 

Check out these ones from boots

More resources coming soon on tracking and the cycle.