Going through puberty can be scary but with the right information it doesn’t need to be as daunting. A regular menstrual cycle once is begins, occurs each month – very often co-inciding with the moon (since the moon pulls the tides and our bodies are mostly water, the moon has a very strong influence on our bodies). I was asked during the week to write a blog about menarche – a woman’s first period. Most of you are no stranger to your monthly period, it comes and goes without too much thought (and if it doesn’t or it is dreaded, it might be time to get onto it), but everybody knows somebody who has a daughter, niece, cousin, or friend that might find this useful to help education young women as they move through the cycles of life.
Somewhere between the ages of 11 – 15 a girl reaches a stage of her life where she becomes physically fertile. Typically we are all built the same – however our internal clocks don’t all work on the same schedule. It appears in our modern world, we are seeing young girls reach this stage of puberty earlier and earlier. This may be due to diet, lifestyle and environmental factors. It isn’t unheard of to see the onset of the first period arrive as early as 9. Generally menarche (the start of the period) occurring before the age of 10 is considered premature . It is considered delayed if it arrives later than 16 years of age.
It can be a daunting and scary realisation when the day arrives – the reality of growing up can be frightful.
The onset of puberty is often coupled by a large growth spurt – typically we see the first period follow within the year. Unfortunately there isn’t any way of knowing the precise time this may occur, which is probably the most daunting part of the whole situation for most young women, however what we can do is educate women to know what to expect and how to best cope with the situation. Its important for us to make sure girls understand it is healthy and perfectly normal. Getting your period is never something to be ashamed of and actually it is quite exciting to know that the body is fertile and working well.
It’s very normal for the first period to be very dark in colour, almost a brown like appearance and be slightly string like to begin with. It will most likely last 4 – 5 days and usually not be too painful or uncomfortable. As time goes on, and our bodies absorb more of our lifestyle, we can see changes occur to this where we may notice some breast tenderness, abdominal pain, irritability and sometimes irregularity of menstrual cycles, however for the first few periods, most women do not report any of these signs and if the body is healthy, may never see these symtpoms. It is important to remember regular period is important for a girl’s health – both for future fertility and overall wellbeing. Most girls getting a period for the first time are not concerned about their fertility, simply because although they may be physically fertile – they are still too young to even fathom starting a family.
The idea of loosing blood can also be daunting. Ordinarily we don’t loose any more than six table spoons of blood per period . If you think about this amount it is minimal and certainly nothing to be worried about. Usually the flow at the start is heavier and begins to slow down by the second or third day of the menstrual cycle.
Each cycle is counted from the first day of the period beginning right through until the next period arrives – most women’s cycles are between 26 – 30 days.
As time goes by, sometimes irregularities can arise – often very easy to treat however many women are prescribed the contraceptive pill as a solution because western medicine has very limited means to treat menstrual issues. Chinese Medicine does a brilliant job of treating these problems without nasty side effects or use of toxic synthetic chemicals that the pill contains. It is important whatever method of treatment you choose – you are well informed and can make a choice based on all factors. If you have any questions, you can always pop through an email, since everybody knows somebody with period pain! And no – period pain shouldn’t be there, it’s simply been accepted to be ‘normal.’
I’m including a list below of menstrual issues that we treat commonly in the clinic with outstanding results. Be encouraged to explore why (if you are) you may be experiencing any of these rather than accept it’s a normal part of being a woman.
- Endometriosis or period pain
- Poly Cyctic Ovaries or Ovarian Syndrome
- Long or Short period cycles
- Amenorrhea (lack of periods)
- other problems at the period time including PMS, breast pain and irritability
I will be talking more about the pill over the coming weeks (as promised) to hopefully help educate women in their choices of treatments and what may be best for each individual. Everyday I see patients with fertility and physical problems that have arrived as a direct result of the pill – most of which aren’t outlined at the time it is prescribed. Hopefully with some eduction you can make an informed decision as to how appropriate is it is (or more likely isn’t) for you.