Adolescent care

Adolescence is the age between 10-19 years. It is an important phase of life where tremendous changes take place in a girls mental and physical development. Puberty means the process of a child developing into a sexually mature adult, which in females includes the increase in height, or the growth spurt, the development of breast (thelarche) and growth of body hair (called pubarche)and finally the beginning of periods or menarche.

Every girl develops at her own pace, these changes can start as early as 9 years and usually most girls get their periods or menstruation by the age of 16. The breast development usually starts a few years early. You should meet your doctor if you've not started menses by the age of 15.

In the first couple of years of menstruation, the cycles could be irregular. But it is better to consult your doctor if you are getting periods every 15 days or not getting them upto 2 months.

Period pain or dysmenorrhoea is a common symptom. It is usually nothing to worry about. Simple measures like heating pads, massage, rest and pain relief medication during those days Help. Also, keeping active, having a healthy diet, exercise and sleep routine and avoiding stress throughout the month reduce pain in periods. If these lifestyle changes fail to correct your pain, then you must visit your gynecologist.

Menstrual hygiene is an important aspect to discuss with adolescents. It helps reduce the risk of Urinary Tract Infections, reduces incidence of rashes in private parts, it ensures good reproductive health and minimizes risk of cervical cancer. Girls should

  • Change the pad every four hours.
  • Clean reusable pads properly.
  • Keep the vaginal area clean.
  • Never use two pads simultaneously.
  • Wear comfortable, clean underwear.

PMS or premenstrual syndrome is another common period related issue. It includes psychological (mental) symptoms like tension, irritability, tiredness, feelings of aggression or anger, low mood, anxiety, loss of confidence, feeling emotional.And physical symptoms include breast swelling and/or pain, abdominal bloating, swelling of the feet or hands, weight gain, an increase in headaches.These symptoms increase before periods and get better after periods and happen cyclically every month.To control theis you could do these simple things like read about it, talk about it, exercise, reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, reduce carbohydrates and foods which retain water.Some medication like primrose oil,calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and sometimes simple painkillers help curing it.

PCOD or Polycystic ovarian syndrome is seen in 5-10% women. It includes a hormonal imbalance, shift towards more male type of hormones, insulin resistance, ovulation failure and infertility.In later life it can lead to gestational diabetes, type II Diabetes, high BP, endometrial hyperplasia and cholesterol.

You could have PCOS if you have irregular menstrual periods (caused by anovulation or irregular ovulation), any evidence of elevated androgen levels based upon signs (excess hair growth, acne, or male-pattern balding) or blood tests (high androgen levels) and polycystic ovaries on pelvic ultrasound.

Commonly girls have delayed cycles around 6-8 per year, less bleeding during menses, acne, male pattern hair growth(upper lip, chin, neck, sideburn area, chest, upper or lower abdomen, upper arm, and inner thigh), weight gain( in about 50% girls) and sometimes anxiety and depression.It can be mostly controlled with lifestyle modification, exercise and weight loss (5% to 10%), healthy eating and sometimes medication.

Emotional issues and habit forming substances(alcohol, smoking) are common in this impressionable stage.Proper communication and support can help adolescents build a strong foundation for a healthy life.

Contraception and safe sex practices also need the right information from the right source.It is important that adolescents are aware about these issues and have a comfortable environment to discuss them.

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