Monday, February 9, 2009

Menarche or Puberty…Which Is It?

Puberty is the entire transition a girls body goes through in the course of becoming a woman. Whereas Menarche is the first menstrual cycle of a young woman.

During the Puberty transition many things are occurring in a young woman’s body. The outward physical signs can be breast growth, body and facial hair changes, body shape changes, and body odor and acne. The internal changes are vaginal and discharge changes, ovary growth, and the beginning of menstruation (Menarche). The Emotional changes can be more difficult to see, but are still occurring and may encompass rapid changes in mood due to the fluctuations of hormones, and more awareness and concern over the rapid body changes leading to stress and tension. They may have responses to things that in the past were not an issue, creating a scene the family (and the young woman) is not expecting.

Ways of Coping With the Changes

Mom and Dad…..before (or at least at the beginning, when you see the first signs) your job as parent just got more complex. It is time for you to sit down and have a talk with your daughter. If she understands all these changes are occurring, she may have an easier transition… may you!

It is not the “Birds and Bees” talk, at least not yet. It is a time to explain the rapid changes she is soon going to experience. Understanding adds to the ability to cope. If you do not know how to go about this, set up an appointment with your doctor and get his advice. If he agrees (and you decide this is best) ask him to explain the process going on in her body to the young woman.

During this time it is vital that the young woman eat a healthy diet, take a multi-vitamin for optimum nutrition for healthy growth, get plenty of sleep, moderate exercise, and experiment with different soaps, deodorants, menstrual products and bra types to find what works best for her.

Stages of Transition

Dr. James Mourilyan Tanner, a British physician, studied the changes occuring in a young womans life. He discovered that there are 5 distinct stages, beginning at around 8 years old and finishing up at around 19 years of age. This is referred to as the Tanner Scale.

The stages often overlap as each girl is unique unto herself. It is a guideline only, to help in the understanding of the changes occuring

Stages Ages Developmental Stage Changes Typically observed

1 8-11 Early adolescence · Hormone production begins, no outward sign
· Ovaries begin to enlarge

2 8-14 Early adolescence Rapid growth in height and weight
· Breast buds begin to develop beneath the
· Traces of fine, straight pubic hair begin

3 10-15 Mid-adolescence · Breast development continues
· Pubic hair hair begins to coarsen, darken and curl
· Armpit hair begins
· Production of normal vaginal discharge begins
· Menarche

4 10-16 Mid-adolescence · Areolas begin to be more defined and darken in color
· Breasts take on more definition
· Pubic hair takes on the triangular pattern and thickens
· Ovulation begins (cycles are still irregular)

· Breasts are fully developed (although may increase in size later)
· Full adult height is reached
· Mestrual cycles and ovulation become regular
· Puberty is essentially done

Dealing with the Symptoms

Cramps –

· Use a hot pad, or moist heat applied to the abdomen. This helps the muscles to stop or at least slow down the spasming.
· Raspberry leaf tea is soothing and will help relieve the cramps
· Ginger (in capsule form or tea) is a long muscle relaxant and will ease cramps for some
· Yoga stretches allow the muscles to lengthen and relax easing the cramps

Mood Swings and Intense reactions –

· Take a time out….you can see what you are doing, just step back and breath
· Talk, not yell….tell those around you what you are feeling, they may not realize that what you are experiencing is due to hormone fluctuations, but now you know
· Take a nap….drink a warm soothing cup of chamomile tea and curl up for a nap, you will wake refreshed and more in control
· Talk with your doctor, she may have some very good suggestions

© Karol Thunder Rowe

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