According to the definition by World Health Organization, adolescents are people in the age group of 10-19 years. About one-fifth of India’s population is in the adolescent age group. Adolescence is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood during which there is physiological, pubertal, psychological changes. Puberty occurs in the late childhood through a cascade of endocrine changes that results in sexual maturity and reproductive capability. Human puberty is accompanied by major physical growth and substantial brain maturation changes.
Though the period of adolescence is generally uneventful, they have their own needs and demands which are quite sensitive. The problems and needs of the adolescents vary according to demographic and social circumstances such as age, gender, stage of development, socioeconomic status etc. Every adolescent is confronted with host of changes and challenges. Adolescents are prone for various stress issues ranging from nutritional deficiencies, reproductive tract infections, mental health problems and so on.
In every society the social, economic and political forces keep rapidly changing and the needs of the adolescents are often overlooked. The problems faced by the adolescents often go unnoticed as they do not manifest with obvious signs and symptoms. Though it is equal in both the sexes, for the current discussion, let us look into the adolescent girls for now. The period of adolescence for a girl is a period of physical and psychological preparation for motherhood. Adolescent girls form an important focus as they will play a very vital role in their family and thereby a society in the future. The menstrual cycle is an important indicator of women’s reproductive health and endocrine function. The problems of menstruation are menstrual irregularity, dysmenorrhea and menorrhagia.
A normal menstrual cycle lasts between 21-35 days characterized by bleeding from 1st to 5th days. It is often associated with lower abdomen pain which is also called as dysmenorrhea. In some people, menstruation is sometimes preceded with a wide range of emotional and gastric symptoms which are compositely called as pre –menstrual syndrome (PMS). When the bleeding exceeds beyond 5 days or is excessive in the form of clots, it is referred to as menorrhagia. Another important aspect of menstruation is the menstrual hygiene. The foremost component of menstrual hygiene is the usage of sanitary napkins during menstruation and frequent change of it to keep clean and hygienic. The other components include drinking plenty of fluids, regular bathing etc.
It is essential for teachers and parents to keep a constant watch over the menstrual cycles of the adolescents as they are often inhibited and seldom voice out their problems. Presence of dysmenorrhea could be handled with home remedies such as rice porridges and fenugreek seeds. Whereas menorrhagia needs to be addressed adequately as it can result in anaemia and further worsen the health of the adolescent girls. When the cycles are irregular, it is important to perform an ultrasound to check for any abnormalities in the ovaries like polycystic ovaries, etc.