05 May Talk to a tween or teen girl about her cycle
If I had a nickel for every time I heard a woman tell me, “I wish I’d known all this information about my cycle years ago when I was a teenager”, I would probably be a millionaire by now. It’s not too surprising though, right? Even I didn’t know all the many ways cycling hormones impact us and how to deal with cycle-related challenges, like menstrual cramps and PMS, while I was growing up–but, sheesh, I really wish I had. It would have saved me a lot of time, pain, confusion and aggravation!
While it’s true that tweens and teens today are more sophisticated and somewhat advanced than folks in previous generations due to technology, social media and the faster-paced world we live in, recent research (such as this, this and this) reveals that many adolescent girls around the globe are still mystified by the effects of their menstrual cycle and report feeling psychological distress tied to their cycle and experience painful periods that make them skip out on social events, school and other activities.
So, today’s Hormonology Tip is for all the moms, grandmothers, aunts, older sisters, cousins, friends and mentors of tween and teen girls: Please, don’t let them grow up to say, “I wish I’d know all this information about my cycle years ago when I was a teenager.” Moms, please share what you’ve learned about your cycle with them now. And everyone else, please ask a teen girl’s parent or caretaker if you can share this important cycle information with her.
Use the information on this website to explain what they can expect from their hormones throughout their cycle. This way, she’s not surprised or confused by fluctuations she experiences, for instance, in her mood or energy. She’ll understand it’s just her biology–and she’ll be able to predict these changes in herself. You can get an easy and fast overview of how our hormones impact us from week to week in this short guide. And my longer Hormonology Guides go into more detail about specific topics, such as mood, energy and memory. You can use these as launching-off points to create your own age-appropriate lesson.
I’ve also created two Hormone Horoscope Apps for girls ages 12 to 17 that are written specifically for younger readers. These apps will give her a daily Hormone Horoscope corresponding to what day she’s on in her cycle that describes what effects she can expect from her hormones–and she’ll have this information at her fingertips when she downloads them to her phone or other device.
And since menstrual cramps are new to adolescent girls, they likely aren’t aware of all the tools available to combat the pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers can come with a host of unwanted side effects, such as liver damage, stomach bleeding, allergic reaction and accidental overdose when taking too many or when taking more than one product that contains the same pain relieving ingredient. Therefore, it’s helpful for young girls to know about alternative, study-proven menstrual pain treatments. My favorite for young girls is placing a heating pad on the pelvis. This can be a hot water bottle, reusable microwaveable heating pad or disposable adhesive heating pads. You could even simply use a wash cloth soaked with comfortably hot water in a pinch. The way it work is that heat temporarily blocks pain sensations and relaxes spasming uterine muscles that are behind cramp pain. With this easy treatment, you don’t have to worry about allergies, dietary sensitivities or health conditions–almost everyone can use it. For more pill-free alternative, study-proven cramp remedies, click here. I’ve reported on dozens, including acupressure, stress reduction, aromatherapy, massage and ginger.
Many young girls struggle with premenstrual symptoms without knowing why or what to do about them. You can help a young girl have an easier premenstrual week by explaining why it happens (plunging estrogen can drag down levels of brain chemicals needed to boost mood and decrease discomfort) and by sharing tips you’ve used in your premenstrual week and/or tips that you’ve learned on this website, such as reducing stress, limiting caffeine intake, eating regularly and trying to fit in a nap.
And, finally, since there is still a negative stigma surrounding periods and female hormones perpetuated by jokes on TV, in movies, in books and on social media, try to make whatever girl you’re talking with feel more comfortable and confident about her cycle.
Working together, we can make the phrase, “I wish I’d known all this information about my cycle years ago when I was a teenager” completely obsolete.