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While periods are a completely natural part of a woman’s life it is important to be aware of period related disorders so they can be detected early, and treated or managed before they do too much damage.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Periods should be periodic, right? So they are for many women. Right from my very first period, I was blessed with a regular cycle. While I had other problems, including severe pain which eventually led to be a very delayed diagnosis of an unusual case of appendicitis, and mild cramps that continue to this day, I was lucky my cycle was regular and predictable.
So I was concerned, when the same was not true in case of my daughter. This led me to do some research on the subject, and I uncovered several interesting and illuminating details.
Menarche is the special name given to the very first period in a woman’s life, and in my opinion, it does deserve it’s very own term, given that it is a landmark moment, symbolizing the transition from childhood to adolescence, which is a confusing time fraught with volatile emotions and raging hormones.
Every girl should be properly prepared for this significant milestone, and in today’s world there is no reason why they should not be. Most schools now educate children over the age of ten about periods. However, it is possible that periods can occur as early as eight. So it is best, if parents talk to their daughters earlier, not just arming them with the facts, but also reassuring them of their emotional support through the rollercoaster ride that is adolescence.
Some parents might find this subject uncomfortable, but worry not. There are plenty of stories and non-fiction books on the subject, to help you broach it with your daughters. I have written one myself as a part of my Tania Series. Tania just like any other girl, is growing up. Read on to find out what happens when she gets her first period unexpectedly early.
It’s not enough to explain the mechanics and biology of reproduction, but essential to talk about vaginal health and hygiene and possible vaginal infections such as yeast, vaginosis, etc. Girls often feel ashamed to talk about vaginal discomfort, and do not report it until the condition exacerbates. Educating them helps mitigate the shame they might feel, and gives them the confidence to tell their parents about any symptoms at an early stage, so as to minimize damage.
Pre-menstrual stress (PMS), mood swings, stomach cramps, can all make periods quite uncomfortable, but talking about it helps young girls realize that the situation is temporary and will soon pass. The fact that many of these discomforts are quite natural, does not imply one shouldn’t get some help in dealing with them. A gynecologist may be able to prescribe appropriate medication to manage the symptoms depending on their severity.
You might think you know your daughter and have a close relationship. Yet, numerous examples show us that romantic relationships can be quite irrational and many youngsters tend to be secretive about them. Sometimes they are secretive because of their own conflicting feelings and uncertainty regarding a particular relationship. So as parents, it is best that we prepare our children for any situation they might find themselves in.
Hence, it is important not to shy away from talking about contraception, protection and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), for in many cases the risk is simply too high. STDs like AIDS do too much damage and can be prevented by proper use of protection. Why put our daughters at such extreme risk, when the solution may be as simple as having the conversation about safe sex?
In today’s world, it is also important to talk to kids about sexual orientation, not only so our children can be forthright about, and comfortable with, their own preferences, but also sensitive towards the needs and choices of their peers.
It is also important to discuss masturbation, sexual fantasies and pornography, whilst highlighting the importance of sensitivity and consent. Children must be alerted to the dangers of sexual exploitation via the internet, and taught to be careful in their social media interactions.
While one does not have to go into great depth in any of these topics, bringing them up is important to keep the channel of communication open, so children know they can approach their parents with any concern, no matter how awkward or embarrassing it may seem.
And if any topic seems to hard for you to talk about yourself, just acknowledge the question, and find an appropriate book or article that will lead your child to the right answers.
Menstruation typically begins between the ages of 10 and 15, though 8 to 17 is not unheard of. For the first couple of years, the menstruation cycle can be quite irregular. The most common cycle length is about 28 days with the bleeding lasting for about 4 to 8 days. But a normal cycle can be anything between 21 to 40 days.
However, in the first couple of years, it is not uncommon to get an extra period or miss one. Irregular periods are a normal part of puberty, while the body tries to figure out its own regular cycle.
Anovulation is a menstrual cycle in which the vary does not release an egg. Most women experience it at some point or the other and may not even be aware of it. Anovulation is one of the primary causes of irregular cycles in the first couple of years after menarche.
But regular anovulation into adulthood can result in abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) and can be a cause of infertility, so if period cycles do not stabilize, one should check with their gynecologist.
While periods are a completely natural part of a woman’s life it is important to be aware of period related disorders so they can be detected early, and treated or managed before they do too much damage. Two such conditions include endometriosis which can be very painful and PCOS.
AUB during periods can have various causes, some serious and some of which can be easily fixed. Either way, it is important to consult a doctor.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of PMS and requires medical attention.
Knowing, being alert, and seeking early medical attention can go a long way towards mitigating the adverse effects of these conditions.
Puberty is a natural, exciting, and sometimes stressful part of life. Menstruation is an essential part of womanhood. As with anything else, it has its speed bumps and hiccups. However, being informed, alert and attentive to symptoms helps smooth the rough patches for both pre-teens and their parents. So happy studying, sharing and communicating!
Published here first.
Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to entertain her older daughter with stories, thus opening the flood gates on a suppressed passion. Today she has written over read more...
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