Adolescent menstrual problems

Adolescent girls generally start menstrual periods approximately two years after the onset of breast development during puberty, generally between 12 and 14 years old.  For the first two years periods are generally inconsistent and sporadic but painless.   It is common to have spotting, then large periods, then no periods for several months.   After about two years, menstrual periods generally become more regular although some girls take longer – especially if they had a delayed onset of the start of menstrual periods.

Abnormalities in menstrual periods can indicate a variety of health concerns.  Hormonal or anatomical problems can delay the onset of periods.  Periods before 10 years of age can arise from precocious puberty or other hormonal conditions.  Not menstruating by 15 years of age, or beginning regular menstrual periods then stopping altogether can represent pituitary or ovary abnormalities, hormone problems, pregnancy or polycystic ovarian syndrome generally associated with obesity. The most common menstrual disorders are

  • premenstrual syndrome
  • dysmenorrhea
  • amenorrhea

Before the onset of the menses, females face many uncomfortable symptoms which last for a short period, stretching from few hours to few days. These symptoms are grouped as premenstrual syndrome. In usual cases, the symptoms come to a halt when the menses begin, but for some they may last even after the menstrual periods are over. Eighty five percent of the females experience some of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome at one time or the other. Nearly forty percent experience symptoms so intense that their daily chores are affected by it and ten percent are disabled by it. There are many premenstrual syndrome symptoms which can be broadly classified as neurologic & vascular symptoms, psychological symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, fluid retention, eye problems and respiratory problems. The cause of premenstrual syndrome is fluctuations in the levels of progesterone & estrogen.

Dysmenorrhea is feeling intense menstrual pain and cramps. Depending on the severity, dysmenorrhea is either primary or secondary. Primary dysmenorrhea symptoms are felt from the onset of the menstrual periods and are felt life-long. Because of abnormal uterine contractions due to chemical imbalance, severe menstrual cramping is experienced. Secondary dysmenorrhea starts in the later stages. Secondary dysmenorrhea can be blamed on medical conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, tumours, infections, and abnormal pregnancy. Dysmenorrhea symptoms are lower abdomen cramping & pain, lower back pain, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, fatigue, fainting, weakness and headaches. Females who are overweight, smoke, and have started to menstruate before turning eleven are at a higher risk of developing dysmenorrhea. Regular exercise, abdominal massage, hot bath, vitamin supplements, and dietary modifications can help overcome dysmenorrhea.

Amenorrhea is the condition in which the female skips her menses for more than three consecutive menstrual cycles. Amenorrhea is also classified as primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea develops from the onset of menstrual periods. In this condition, the adolescent might not get periods when she enters puberty. Secondary amenorrhea is a condition where periods become irregular after a period of time and not from the start.