Monthly Archives: August 2012

Menstrual Period is a Vital Sign

Menstrual Period is a Vital Sign

Isn’t it nice that so much of modern machinery is equipped with warning systems to alert us to their problems? Even my washing machine has a light system to let me know what’s wrong with it. We monitor the vital signs of our bodies in much the same way. Basic vital signs include body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate and blood pressure. Our menstrual cycles can also be considered an indicator of our overall emotional and physical health. Regular menstrual cycles are a sign of a well running body.

It’s typical for a young girl to have irregular periods as her body adjusts to the monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation but there can be times when the irregularity has an underlying cause. This is why it’s important to pay attention to your daughter’s period while teaching her to track it herself. You need to know what is normal before you can determine what isn’t normal.

Some common causes of irregular periods include stress, traveling, a high level of physical activity especially combined with low body weight and excess weight loss or gain. These conditions may self correct as situations change but if your daughter goes 3 or more months without a period, it’s a good idea to see a doctor to check for underlying problems. Having a record of her cycle will be extremely valuable information for her health care provider in these cases.

Medical conditions that disrupt the menstrual cycle include Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which affects 5 to 10% of teenagers and young women. Common symptoms are obesity, excess facial and body hair and acne. Primary Amenorrhea is when a girl has not started menstruating by age 16 and Secondary Amenorrhea is when menstruation has started and then stopped. Amenorrhea is linked to low bone density at a time when girls should be building up their bone mass.

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), affecting 1% of the population, occurs when the ovaries don’t produce enough hormones causing periods to become lighter or cease altogether. These conditions require careful diagnosis and treatment by a medical doctor. If you have any questions or concerns about these conditions or any other symptoms you should see your doctor.

Knowing when to expect her period is also a great way to manage premenstrual symptoms. Teaching your daughter to track her periods encourages her to be proactive for a lifetime of good health.

Little Women – My Favorite Book

Little Women – My Favorite Book

Little Women by Louisa May AlcottI just finished my annual reading of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  It is my favorite all-time book.  The picture you see in this post is a picture of my copy of Little Women.  It was handed down to me from my mother and was already well worn when she gave it to me.  About 15 years ago, my sister Ann had the book re-bound and had the cover art saved and attached to the new front cover.  This ensures the book will last for many more generations with the original cover art intact.

Every year when I finish Little Women, I ask myself why I love the book so much.  I have added reasons over time.  I am the oldest of four sisters so stories about sisters always interest me.  I strongly identify with Jo, the character that Louisa May Alcott based on herself.  Jo is an independent minded young woman who wants to make her own way in the world at a time when independence in women was not celebrated.  And I enjoy novels set during the Civil War.

I think this year though I enjoyed the book because of its representation of family values.  And I’m not talking about traditional family values so often talked about in political circles.  Family values in Little Women is represented by a group of individuals who happen to be related to each other who pull together when times are tough. The group also lends support to others who are in need of a family.  This is best represented by how the girls treat Laurie, their neighbor’s orphaned grandson.

It is the story of facing things head on and rejoicing in what you do have instead of complaining about what you don’t have.  The girls do complain that they don’t have money for the finer things in life, however, they learn to substitute with simple pleasures and home made gifts.

Little Women is a great book to read with your daughter.  It encompasses U.S. history, positive family interactions and romance.  If you or your daughter have already read the book, give us your thoughts below.




Team vs. Individual Sports for Your Daughter

Team vs Individual Sports for Your Daughter

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a big Olympic sports fan. I have tried to watch as many hours as possible and even though I missed the gymnastics and swimming competitions I’ve been able to watch many other events, especially volleyball and water polo.

And as I have watched all these elite athletes competing I have remembered how much my daughter Hayley enjoyed her years playing basketball. Being part of school and select teams helped her gain confidence in herself, built skills for working in a team environment and kept her in shape. Which got me to thinking about whether it is better to participate in a team or individual sport.

Certainly both have their advantages. Team sports require constant communication during play which can especially help an introverted girl. Team play also fosters a sense of belonging, a ready group of friends, and a shared experience. If there are personality conflicts between players, the conflicts have to be worked out or set aside for the team to succeed, which teaches so many lessons about dealing with life’s adversities in order to reach a goal.

Individual sports requires a commitment that always amazes me. To watch Gabby Douglas or Missy Franklin excel means admiring all the many hours that they put into training because they themselves wanted to succeed. There was no team to lift them up when they were down, no one to disappoint if they didn’t show up to practice one day. They relied on themselves to achieve their goals. Of course, they had coaches and trainers and family members to support them. But when it came time to compete, they were alone on the floor or in the pool.

Both individual and team sports have their advantages depending on what suits your daughter’s personality.  And as a parent, I was just glad to have my daughter interested in something that inspired her and let her have fun.  In the end, that is most important, whether it be sports, music, art or other activities.

First Period Stories from our Readers

First Period Stories from our Readers

It’s that time of the month again when we get to publish some of our reader’s first period stories.  We appreciate everyone who sends us your story and look forward to hearing from more of you.  We will always ask your permission before sharing your story.

Please be sure to share the stories with your daughter to let her know she is not alone in this step towards womanhood.  Note that stories are not edited for grammar.

Ana’s Story
I can remember my first period experience like it was just yesterday even though it has been well over 18 years. My mother hadn’t talked to me about it. She was a single mother of four and working two jobs. I was left to fend for myself. I had to grow up too fast; thank God for my 2nd grade teacher who helped me out and gave me a quick but nourishing run down of what was really happening to me and why. Because at that moment in time I thought that there was something really wrong with me and I also thought that I had done something to cause my private parts to bleed. I was really really scared. And now 18 years later my own daughter is going through this and I have tried as much as I can to give her as much information and support that she needs so she isn’t as scared as I was. I hope I am doing well. Thank You for letting me share my story.

Luanns Story
One of my illnesses as a child (having a number of them) was my thyroid being underactive. I began taking medicine for it. My mother kept asking our doctor when I was going to start. He told her to let things be and it would come naturally. Finally, at 14, it happened. We were visiting my cousins in Tallahassee, FL and had gone swimming at a lake. I had to take my cousin to the bathroom because she was too little to go alone. I went too and noticed something brownish in my bathing suit. I thought maybe I had some diarrhea or something. When we got back to their house, I went in the bathroom to change and realized what it was. I stayed locked in the bathroom for almost 3 hours until my mother yelled at me through the door and I told her what had happened. She got some pads for me and I made it back home to TN. She told our next door neighbor about it and their oldest son told me ‘congratulations, you’re a woman now’! Talk about embarrassed! My mother didn’t talk to me and I didn’t ask, so I was pretty clueless. Now, at 47, I’ve already spoken to my 10 year old about it and am hoping to have better communication and understanding.



National Girlfriends Day is Today!

National Girlfriends Day is Today!

National Girlfriends Day is celebrated on August 1st each year.  I personally think we should celebrate our girlfriends every day.  However, having one nationally recognized day does make it a bit more fun and official.

Where would we be without our girlfriends?  The women that hold us when we cry and laugh with us when we are happy.  And always tell us the truth, even when it hurts.  Those are the girlfriends you can always count on in a crisis.

I am not the best at keeping girlfriends.  I have moved several times in my life and each time I tend to leave friends behind.  I think it is because without face to face communication I tend to lose touch.  My three younger sisters hang on to their friends much better and luckily they passed that gene on to my daughter. Even though her friends have scattered from our town for college and jobs, Hayley still manages to visit them and keep up on their lives.

What does friendship mean in today’s digital age and how do you encourage your daughter to keep friends that will support her throughout the life? I think the first thing to stress is that friends are not kept to be used.  In other words, there has to be a genuine interest in the other person and a willingness to be there for each other.  If one friends always takes and never gives, then the friendship will probably not last.  This is true of any relationship.

I also believe that friends need to speak up when they sense a friend may be heading for trouble.  This should be done in a non-judgmental way that conveys support and concern. Staying in touch in times of crises is also important for friendships to thrive.

And lastly, stay committed and connected. Dating a new boy does not mean not seeing your girlfriends.  In high school, Hayley and her friends would frequently have ‘Girlfriend Nites’.  Boyfriends weren’t allowed and the girls were able to keep girlfriend connections intact.

And as far as the digital age is concerned,  Facebook does make it easier to stay in touch.  But nothing replaces picking up the phone to hear a friends voice or getting together for a walk in the park to catch up.