According to the NHS the average age for the menstrual cycle to kick in is 12 years old, however a small percentage of girls will start their periods at an earlier age and some girls will be 'late starters'. At the age of 12 most of these girls are already dealing with the major life event of leaving primary school and settling in to a new (often larger and slightly intimidating) secondary school. Becoming familiar with the new school layout, getting to grips with a new timetable, feeling the pressure of a step-up in homework and navigating the emotional turmoil of forming new friendships is a considerable amount to cope with at such a young age.
Layer on top of this 'already challenging time of life' the fact that they also have to deal with feelings associated with the changes in body shape, body image and body confidence brought about by the hormonal fluctuations of puberty and you can start to empathise that for some of these girls the thought of beginning their periods is as exciting as is terrifying!
Lines of communication may already be somewhat fraught with boundaries being pushed, a desire for independence being flexed and typical teenage behaviour traits being experienced. BUT you must remember that behind all of this troublesome behaviour is your lovely little girl who is struggling to understand and keep up with the physical changes that her body is going through. No matter how bad the communication between you has got, you must explore ways to reach out and share your knowledge of what it feels like to be a woman. Explain what your periods are like, talk about what your premenstrual symptoms are and help her understand that with the right information and the right support her journey towards womanhood can become smoother and less complex.
It's important to let your developing girl know that the first year or two after her first period can be a rocky road. Although we are taught that menstruation involves a four-week cycle with a 5-7 day bleed (days 1-7), a premenstrual phase (days 21-28) and ovulation (day 14) it's important for her to understand that in the early stages nature does not run like clock-work! During these early beginnings her periods may in fact be very irregular and it might be hard to predict when her next period will actually arrive and her pre-menstrual symptoms may be very erratic, but all of this is incredible normal.
Help her to understand that for her body to follow a more 'text-book' menstrual cycle there are lots of parts of her body that all need to synch-up and start working to the same rhythm. The menstrual cycle is a slick hormone operation that involves three glands (hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries) and the secretion of nearly 10 hormones (all released on different and precise days of the cycle) which have to harmonise so that symptoms settle down and a regular cycle can evolve.
One way to smooth out this rocky road is to offer up some nutrition support. Nutrients like zinc, B-6, selenium and magnesium offer great support to the glands that are learning how to orchestrate the correct timings of hormone secretions. One particular form of omega-3 called Cleanmarine Krill Oil when combined in a supplement with vitamin D, soy isoflavones, vitamins B1, B2 and B6 and rosemary oil helps to offer support for premenstrual niggles such as breast discomfort, cravings, mood swings, anxiety, skin problems, bloating and headaches. Taking a supplement alongside a healthy diet and exercise regime can really help to support and improve hormone balance and make that transition into womanhood much more comfortable and enjoyable!
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