Your hormones are like the master controller of YOU. Find out more about teenage hormones, what’s normal and what could be a sign of an issue.
Remember your first few menstrual cycles? Whilst I remember mine, I speak to many clients who have very vague memories of what can be a formative and incredibly important time in a young girls life. What so many of us are told to expect and actually experience though, is teen hormones that make our whole cycles incredibly difficult. I recently shared about what makes your period healthy or not, but your period isn’t the only significant part of your cycle.
All four phases of your cycle are governed by hormonal changes – that’s what makes them work. Being hormonal isn’t a defect, it’s simply your body talking to you. In fact, it’s quite possibly under the circumstances, trying to do its best job (aka surviving comes before thriving). Our hormonal makeup not only changes across our cycles, but what our cycles look like can change across our lives, too. So, what do our teenage hormones do, and what are they telling us?
Your teenage girl hormones’ job is to get your cycles working! Before menarche, girls do not have a menstrual cycle as such, so the first few years of having a ‘cycle’ are a bit like the first few tries of any new skill you might try – new skills take time to master, and the learning process isn’t always in a direct straight line. Sure, sometimes you may have a ‘text-book perfect’ cycle of 28 days with recognisable phases, and other cycles they may be long, anovulatory, fluctuating pain levels, or confusing in some other way. One way to think of it is like learning how to cook or drive a car. Remember your first driving lesson? I’m surprised I’m still alive. But alas, nowadays I may find myself thinking as I pull up at the gym, “I don’t even remember pulling out of the driveway…” as if I could almost do it with my eyes close (do not try that ever…). But your first few lessons may have seen a linear progression (or improved batches of cookies), and then the next of sees you stalling the car, or burning a roast. It’s all part of the learning process, and your body is still learning how to manage menstrual cycles when you’re in your teen years.
Generally, humans allow ourselves to make mistakes or be imperfect in our quest to master new skills, and in many ways, our teen years should be regarded similarly for our teen hormones. When it comes to our teenage girl hormones, practice makes healthy. Be patient with your body, and it will hopefully work it out.
Of course, sometimes our bodies need additional, mindful support to create a healthy cycle (which isn’t something to be ashamed of at all). Menstrual cycle symptoms such as ovulation or period pain, skin issues, excessive bloating through the cycle or heavy bleeding can indicate your hormones need some loving care. In more severe cases, conditions like endometriosis & PCOS can present in teen years, too. Just like a burned dinner or a little bumper action of your car to another car, it doesn’t indicate there’s anything wrong with you, simply that you may need some more practice or guidance. In most cases, we can empower ourselves as women to provide the same to our hormones. Isn’t that amazing?!
So why would our bodies, which are designed to create a healthy menstrual cycle, go off kilter? Stress is one of the biggest contributions to dis-ease and unbalanced hormones. In Chinese Medicine, we recognise both physiological stress, including unmanaged food sensitivities, an overburdened immune system, or injuries, as well as mental & emotional stress. Stress from both of these sources can cause hormonal imbalances, and not just in our sex hormones – hormones that govern sleep, alertness and a whole host of other bodily functions can be sent awry by stress inputs.
The great news is we can play a conscious role in supporting healthy stress management. If we start these healthy habits early in our menstruating years, it can set up a great foundation for the rest of our life too. Tools I use regularly with my patients include:
– Modifying diet to support healthy hormones & mental health (there’s also some great ideas in my book, Well & Good).
– Engaging in a regular mindfulness or meditation practice (my favourite app is Smiling Mind).
– My Debunking Stress Masterclass – it’s for everyone at every stage of their hormonal journey!
– Working one on one via my clinic, The Pagoda Tree, and of course.
– My new book, Beautiful You (chapter 2, in particular, is all about how learning to manage our stressors and emotions can support a healthy life).
Hormonal changes as a teen girl can seem overwhelming and scary. Messages we hear from doctors, and school, and even from family and friends can make us think we’re entering an inevitably painful phase of our lives. It’s totally in your control to have a healthy cycle, and a healthy relationship with your emotions & stress.
What tools do you wish you’d had when you started menstruating? What would you tell your daughters, nieces & friends to help them appreciate or love their new cycles?
Edited and approved by Dr Shawn Tassone.