If you ever get to talk to your grandmother about their menstrual health, you’ll be astonished to know that most of them got their menarche, i.e., they got their first period when they were above fourteen - more specifically, an average of sixteen was prominent for an adolescent girl growing up in the late ‘50s or ‘60s.
Over the years, statistics show that the average age of menarche is around 12 years. Recent studies have demonstrated that girls as young as ten years get menarche, in some regions of the world. It has been found that countries like India or any other region in tropical latitudes (regions of earth surrounding the equator) are more susceptible to an early age period than regions in temperate zones (the areas of earth that lie between the tropical zone and the cold polar zones).
Why so? Let’s begin by understanding what exactly is menarche and the factors that influence menarche in young girls. After discussing the factors, we will look at how ayurveda can help you alter the factors.
Introduction to Menarche
Menarche marks the end of puberty and the beginning of reproductive life in females. Menarche is defined as the onset of menstruation or the occurrence of the first menstrual cycle in females.
Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child’s body matures into an adult, usually between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys.
Menstruation, commonly known as periods, is the normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman's monthly cycle. It is the shedding of the lining of the uterus (womb) in the form of blood, through your vagina (an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining, which is a part of the female reproductive tract).
Periods normally start between the ages of 8 and 16 years. Whether menarche comes too early (less than 8 years), or too late (greater than 16 years), it is known as the abnormal onset of menarche.
Factors That Influence Menarche
Menarche is affected by genetic factors, race, environmental conditions, nutrition, physical activity, geographic location, urban or rural residence, health status, and psychological factors.
In today’s world, early puberty in girls is leading to early menarche. Early menarche is associated with various genetic and lifestyle factors such as:
1. Stressed Lifestyle Regulated With Sexual Health
A lot of young girls are subjected to a stressed lifestyle owing to academics, athletics, and a full-time performance pressure to do well in all aspects of life, leading to worrying tendencies. The pressure often combined with stress leads to an early sexual maturity which starts menarche abruptly. In such cases, early menarche can also lead to irregular periods and various other menstrual complications.
2. External Factors Affecting Sexual Maturity
With a rising trend of a convenient lifestyle, young bodies are often tricked into believing that they are ready to hit puberty physiologically, which is not the case in reality. With a few evolutionary changes in our physiology, the body is also subjected to various other changes like temperature and conditioning in the immediate environment, owing to global warming. These factors also trick the body to enter puberty earlier than expected.
3. Genetic Trends For Sexual Wellness
Humans are getting genetically evolved at a rather fast pace. If we analyze the statistics for evolutionary trends in human genealogy (the study of family origins and history), it has also been changing a few basic trends and timelines for a human body.
Menarche and menopause (the natural stopping, or cessation, of a woman’s menstrual cycle) are some of those trends. These evolutionary and genetic trends are heading towards a better survival and continuation for species - thus, leading to early menarche and early menopause in females.
While we can do so little about the same, it’s important that we educate our girls and boys about the menstrual cycle to help them better understand the do(s) and don’t(s) surrounding the topic. The better we are aware, the better we are adept to tackle it.
How Does Ayurveda Help?
Ayurveda is an age-old science of life and longevity. Ayurveda works by balancing the body, mind, and spirit. In ayurveda, each individual is born with 5 elements of nature which are Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Space. The balance of these elements is known as Dosha.
There are 3 main doshas- Vata (energy of movement, composed of space and air), Pitta (digestion and metabolism composed of fire and water), and Kapha (structure and lubrication, composed of water and earth).
Ayurveda has played an important role in overcoming the dosha imbalances and boosting the resilience of the body against external factors. So at times when the climate isn’t helping mankind’s health, we can trust ayurveda to do so.
1. Herbs like sesame or jatamansi are excellent regulators of menstrual health. These regulate the maturation of follicles in the ovary when the body hits puberty.
2. Yoga asanas (poses or postures) helps in regularizing menstruation and prepares the body for adolescence. Recommended yoga poses for young girls include:
a) Garudasana (Eagle Pose) is a standing balancing yoga posture. In the final position, your body looks like that of an eagle; hence the name.
How to do:
1. Stand erect with your feet together, arms by the sides of the body.
2. Rise the right leg and take it around the left leg, from the front of the body like a creeper.
3. Follow the same procedure with the arms, stretch the body; relax, and maintain the pose for a few seconds.
4. Repeat the same standing on your left leg.
b) Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) is a back-bending asana. This pose gets its name from ‘dhanur’ which means a ‘bow’. In the final posture, your body looks like a bow with the strings; hence, the name.
How to do:
1. Lie down in a prone position with legs together and arms beside the body.
2. Exhale and hold the ankles with your hands.
3. Inhaling, lift the thighs, head, and chest as high as possible on the lower abdomen. Maintain the position comfortably for 10 – 20 seconds.
4. Exhale, come back to the starting position and lie down straight to relax.
3. Herbal concoctions made of ginger and tulsi help. Tulsi tea, when consumed with ginger and honey, is packed with various antioxidants and anti inflammatory properties. Including these in the daily diet will help young girls in maintaining the temperature of their body, for a well balanced menstrual cycle.
Ginger tea is one of the most powerful emmenagogues (herbs that stimulate menstrual flow), resulting in better and normal menstruation. Ginger also contains an enzyme called zingibain which protects the body from inflammation and thus eases menstrual pain and cramps in the early days, just after the onset of your periods.
In case your adolescent sister or friend is facing problems with her first or early menstruation days, consult your doctor for the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.