Turning Puberty On In America
According to Steingraber, a simple definition of puberty for girls can be stated succinctly as the attainment of fertility, but of course this includes many important neural and hormonally triggered developmental milestones, including a significant growth spurt, breast development , pubic hair and first menstruation and ovulation.
What is remarkable about puberty is how little we still know about it while we know the basic neural and hormonal pathways that must interact to initiate the processes involved in puberty development, there is no predetermined onset nor is the length of the process itself predetermined timing may vary widely from person to person and is influenced by a wide range of environmental factors and cues that are not entirely known. Normal puberty onset can range from ages 8-13 years of age and may take, on average, 1.5 to 6 years to complete.
Steingraber reveals that good documentation exists over the last hundred or so years to establish that the average age of first menstruation in young white girls in the United States has declined by several years, from an average age of 17 to 13. Over the last 50 or so years, the age of first menstruation in the United States has continued to decline, but at a much slowerby a few months, and with wide ethnic disparity.
White girls in the United States now menstruate at an average age of 12.6 years and black girls at 12.1 years, while Mexican American girls menstruate at an average age of 12.2 years .
Your Serotonin Levels Are Diminished
Strangely enough, the hormonal changes you experience also influence how the chemicals in your brain function. “Neurotransmitters in the brain probably have something to do with PMS symptoms,” Dr. Dweck says. Research suggests that serotonin drops when your period starts, due to all the hormonal fluctuations. Low amounts of serotonin in the brain are associated with depression, irritability, and intense cravings for carbohydrates, which is pretty much PMSing in a nutshell. In her book Moody Bitches, psychiatrist Dr. Julie Holland explains,
Lower estrogen levels cause serotonin levels to drop precipitously a few days before menstruation, which may be the basis of many PMS symptoms. Low levels of serotonin are implicated in depression, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder … you’re even more physically sensitive to pain than usual, and more emotionally sensitive to criticism. You’re less resilient in the face of stresses and feel sadder, hungrier, and more scared, tearful, and angsty.
On top of all that, as levels of estrogen and serotonin rapidly fall, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid also start to disappear when your period arrives. These are two chemicals that boost your moods, put a pep in your step, and reduce anxiety. Without them, you don’t exactly have a recipe for calm, cool, and collected on your hands.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Menstration
Some women get symptoms leading up to and during menstruation, for example, cramps or pains low in the abdomen, bloating or swelling in the abdomen, constipation before your period, diarhrea when your period starts, acne, tiredeness, and mood changes.
See your doctor about your period if:
- You have not started menstruating by the age of 15.
- You have not started menstruating within 3 years after breast growth began, or if breasts haven’t started to grow by age 13.
- Your period suddenly stops for more than 90 days.
- Your periods become very irregular after having had regular, monthly cycles.
- Your period occurs more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days.
- You are bleeding for more than 7 days.
- You are bleeding more heavily than usual or using more than 1 pad or tampon every 1 to 2 hours.
- You bleed between periods.
In the United States, the average age for a girl to get her first period is 12. This does not mean that all girls start at the same age. A girl can start her period anytime between the ages of 8 and 15. Most of the time, the first period starts about 2 years after breasts first start to develop. If a girl has not had her first period by age 15, or if it has been more than 2 to 3 years since breast growth started, she should see a doctor.
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What To Do When You Get Your Period
Before you start getting periods it is good to be prepared for when it eventually comes. Hopefully you will have an opportunity to talk with your mother or sister or someone else in your family who can help you to prepare. Meanwhile here are some tips for when you do start bleeding.
- Use sanitary products like a pad, tampon or panty liner to absorb the bleeding. Pads and liners are longs strips of cotton that you stick to your underwear. Tampons are thin cylinders of dense cotton attached to a string that you put inside your vagina. Pads, liners and tampons come in different shapes and sizes but all of them need to be changed every four to six hours to stop leakage. You can use a tampon whenever you want, you don’t have to wait until you start having sex before a tampon will go in. It may be a little hard to get it in to begin with, but you will get used to it very quickly.
- Keep a period kit somewhere handy. This is because you might get your period unexpectedly or forget its due. Keeping some painkillers, sanitary products and a spare pair of underpants in your bag, at school or at work can be a lifesaver.
- Enjoy life as much as possible. Its safe and often possible to do all the things you would normally do. Its also okay to have sex when you have your period, but if youre using a tampon youll need to take it out first.
Pms Is Still A Mystery
Itâs 1 or 2 weeks before your period starts, and here come the breakouts, sluggishness, cravings, bloating, and mood swings. Sound familiar? Every woman is different, but for many, PMS is a fact of life.
But doctors donât know exactly why that is. It seems to be a mix of hormone changes during your menstrual cycle, chemical changes in the brain, and other emotional issues you might have, such as depression, that can make PMS worse.
Whatâs more, once you get your period, the rollercoaster may continue. One study found that period-related pains such as cramps, bloating, backaches, and headaches can cloud your thinking, because the pain may make it harder for you to focus on the tasks at hand. Not that you canât still do them — you can. It may just feel like it takes more work.
Lifestyle changes are usually the best way to take control of PMS. Aim to get about 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, get 8 hours of shut-eye per night, and donât smoke. Your diet makes a difference, too, so fill up on fruits, veggies, and whole grains while you limit salt as well as sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Let your doctor know if PMS keeps you from doing what you normally do, or if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety. You may have a more serious condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder that needs medical attention.
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What Is A Normal Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is a term used to describe the sequence of events that occur within a womans body as it prepares for the possibility of pregnancy each month. A menstrual cycle is considered to begin on the first day of a period. The average cycle is 28 days long however, a cycle can range in length from 21 days to about 35 days.
The steps in the menstrual cycle are triggered by the rise and fall of chemicals in the body called hormones. The pituitary gland in the brain and the ovaries in the female reproductive tract manufacture and release certain hormones at certain times during the menstrual cycle that cause the organs of the reproductive tract to respond in certain ways. The specific events that occur during the menstrual cycle can be described as follows:
Can I Go Swimming During My Period
Swimming during your period isn’t a problem. However, you will want to use a tampon when swimming so you don’t bleed on your swimsuit. Pads won’t work and will just fill with water. The tampon won’t fall out if it is inserted correctly, so go ahead and make a splash!
Tampons also can be helpful for girls who exercise or play sports during their periods. Pads will work, but can feel uncomfortable during sports.
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When Do Most Girls Get Their Period
Most girls get their first period when they’re around 12. But getting it any time between age 10 and 15 is OK. Every girl’s body has its own schedule.
There isn’t one right age for a girl to get her period. But there are some clues that it will start soon:
- Most of the time, a girl gets her period about 2 years after her breasts start to develop.
- Another sign is vaginal discharge fluid that a girl might see or feel on her underwear. This discharge usually begins about 6 months to a year before a girl gets her first period.
So Why Do Women Have Periods
As a woman, your period is your bodys way of releasing tissue that it no longer needs. Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy.
The lining of your uterus gets thicker as preparation for nurturing a fertilized egg. An egg is released and is ready to be fertilized and settle in the lining of your uterus.
If the egg is not fertilized, your body no longer needs the thicker lining of the uterus, so it starts to break down and is eventually expelled, along with some blood, from your vagina. This is your period, and once its over, the process starts all over again.
The way that women experience their periods varies widely. Its important that you communicate with your healthcare provider if you have concerns about:
- Cycle regularity. Is it regular each month? Irregular? Absent?
- Duration of period. Is it prolonged? Typical? Shortened?
- Volume of menstrual flow. Is it heavy? Typical? Light?
2014 article in the International Journal of Womens Health, you can suppress your cycle with various types of birth control such as:
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Can A Girl Get Pregnant As Soon As Her Period Starts
Yes, a girl can get pregnant as soon as her period starts. A girl can even get pregnant right before her very first period. This is because a girl’s hormones might already be active. The hormones may have led to and the building of the uterine wall. If a girl has sex, she can get pregnant, even though she has never had a period.
At What Age Does A First Period Generally Happen
In the United States, a child may get their first period when theyre about 12. However, anytime between 10 and 15 is within the average range. Its not entirely unusual for a first period to happen as young as 8 or as old as 16.
Factors such as family history, race, diet, environment, and weight can all determine the time a first period occurs. Children who participate in intense athletics or are underweight might get their periods later.
It can be hard to predict when a first period will occur, but there are a few ways you might be able to estimate. As a rule, a first period will occur about 2 years after breasts start to develop. Additionally, a mucus-like vaginal discharge will often start 6 months to a year before the first period.
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Why Do Women Get Periods
1. The very first period, known as menarche, heralds the gift of the reproductive cycle, endowing a young woman with the option to someday carry a child. Many cultures celebrate this event as a sacred passage. The period is the sloughing off of the uterine lining, the starting point of the cycle of hormones that is responsible for fertility.
2. Regular periods are the best sign of hormone balance. When my patients feel their hormones are out of whack, one of the first questions I ask is if they have regular periods. Assuming a patient is not pregnant, nursing or in menopause, a regular menstrual cycle indicates that things are working the way Mother Nature intended.
If youre skipping periods or not menstruating at all, read 8 Natural Ways to Regulate Your Period.
3. A regular period is a sign that you are having a Venus Week the week that follows menstruation and leads up to ovulation. The hormonal recipe that begins shortly after the period starts helps us look and feel our best. Once my patients understand that their period signals the beginning of a cycle they look forward to the ideal week that follows, and usually notice a significant improvement in how they feel and look on or about day three or four of their period.
If your period is unpredictable, read How to Get a Normal Monthly Period.
If you have problems with your period, read 4 Types of Menstrual Problems.
You Have Undiagnosed Pmdd
In some rare cases, very noticeable mood swings are indicative of something more than just PMS symptoms. If you notice that your mood swings are out of control and they’re affecting relationships in your life, you may want to talk to your doctor about premenstrual dysphoric disorder . Up to 10 percent of menstruating women suffer from this disorder, and it often goes undiagnosed. According to Dr. Dweck, “This is like PMS on steroids, where people are absolutely debilitated” due to the emotional plummets.
Dr. Dweck tells Bustle that the key to knowing that you’re stepping into PMDD territory is whether your emotional ups and downs are affecting the relationships in your life. This includes anyone from your co-worker to your partner. As soon as you notice this happening, visit your OBGYN and see whether it’s time to think of some treatments for PMDD.
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At What Age Do Girls Typically Get Their First Period
The age at which girls get their first period varies quite a bit. Some can be as young as 9, and some can be as late as 15 or 16.
Sometimes a girl’s first period will come around the time that her mother got her first period. So it can be helpful for her mother to share her experience with her daughter. That can give her some idea of what to expect for what age she might get her first period. Sometimes it’s completely different.
Most girls get their period between ages 12 and 14, but it can happen years earlier or later, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists .
Some girls get their first period as young as 9 or as old as 15 or 16, Premier Physician Network providers say.
For most girls, their period starts about two years after they first start to grow breasts, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services .
For more information about when girls typically get their first period, talk to your doctor.