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.