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First Menstruation: Early Signs, Food And Dietary Guidelines

First Menstruation

The Period of transition from childhood to adulthood is called adolescence with accelerated physical, biochemical and emotional development. It is during this period that the final growth spurt occurs. There are many body changes that result due to the influence of hormones. The growth spurt of boys is slower than that of girls. Growth velocity is maximum for girls between 10 – 13 years. With the profound growth of adolescence, there are increased demands for energy, protein, minerals and vitamins.

The dimensional changes and changes in maturational timing over the generations are called secular changes, the term secular referring to successive periods of time. The magnitude of a secular trend in stature may approximate 1 cm/decade and the inverse secular trend in menarcheal timing, which may approximately 0.2 yr/decade.

Menstruation is an amazing gift for a girl given by our universe. It gives every girl and adult women individual feedback of what is going in their own body also tells them whether they are taking the right diet or following the right lifestyle or not. Changes such as stomach or body cramps, changes in hair, changes in skin and mood swings or fluctuations give a message to us whether we are taking the right diet and nutrition. Lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep or not, exercising right or wrong is apparent through looking at changes in the menstrual cycle.

Signs before 1st menstrual cycle:

First menstruation
  1. A girl generally gets her first cycle only about 2 years after her breasts start to develop
  2. A girl can notice soiled innerwear due to vaginal discharge which generally happens 6 months to 1 year before 1st menstruation.
  3. Few girls might notice stomach cramps 6 months before the start of 1st menstruation
  4. You generally notice vaginal hair growth and slowly it is also seen under your arms

All you need to know about Menstruation:

First menstruation

Menstruation happens because of changes in hormones, which are messengers in our body. Estrogen and Progesterone are the two important female hormones. A menstrual cycle has two phase’s Follicular phase and the luteal phase. During the follicular phase (from day 1 to day 14) Estrogen is the dominant hormone that regulates the release of follicles. There are a group of follicles that are being released, of these one turns out to be an egg. During this time there is a built-up taking place on the lining of the uterus, where the egg gets attached. The egg sits on the lining of the uterus for 3 days here is the start of the luteal phase (day 15 to day 28). If the egg is fertilized then the progesterone hormone protects this egg throughout the gestation period. If the egg is not fertilized then the built upon lining of the uterus sheds off after 28 days leading to menstrual blood flow. This cycle is repeated every month, thus menstruation blood flow happens once a month.

After the first menstruation initially a girl might not get a regular cycle during the first 1-2 years, this is a common symptom in most young girls. Do not panic if this happens to you, it’s normal as the body takes its own time to adjust to the new hormonal changes which are happening for the first time. After 1-2 years of first menstruation, a girl might start getting a cycle once every month.

Diet and Lifestyle habits to follow at the time of first menstruation

During menses, it is very important to stay hydrated and also eat a healthy diet. This is because

a girl’s body undergoes several changes at the time of first menstruation.

  • The hormonal upsurge drains out a girl’s energy.
  • Menses are painful and most girls find it difficult to sleep on the first day of menstruation, they feel extremely lethargic and thus need replenishment.
  • There is blood loss.

It is very much essential that a girl take a diet which has more proteins, minerals and vitamins which will compensate for the loss of nutrients.

Food Habits:

Physical and psychological pressure influences adolescents eating habits.

  • Girls physiologic sex differences associated with fat deposits during this period and comparative lack of physical activity she may gain weight easily.
  • Social pressure and personal tensions concerning figure control will cause her to follow unwisely, self – imposed crash diets for weight loss.
  • Self-starvation may result in complex and far-reaching eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia

Teenagers have the reputation of having the worst eating habits. They may skip a meal. Or they may eat fast foods which are generally inadequate in calcium, iron and vitamin A but high in calories, saturated fat and sodium.

Dietary Guidelines:

First menstruation

Diet at the time of first menstruation is very significant because it influences the future nutritional status.

  1. Adequate well balanced nutritious food should be taken to prevent obesity or undernutrition.
  2. A teenage girl should take enough calcium-rich foods in her diet to increase bone density.
  3. No meal of the day should be missed.
  4. Food should be colourful and attractive.
  5. Avoid empty calorie foods such as carbonated beverages.
  6. Iron-rich foods should be included to prevent anaemia.
  7. Calorie and protein-rich foods should be taken to support the growth spurt.
  8. Include fruits and vegetables in the diet to meet the vitamins, minerals and fibre requirement.
  9. Parents should encourage teenagers (both boys and girls) to cook at home nutritious and tasty food.
  10. Home-based diets are best for children’s growth.
  11. Adolescents need to be encouraged to do physical activity particularly outdoor games as physical activity regulates appetite.

This article is contributed by Mrs Mayuri Aavula.

Author Bio: Mrs Mayuri started TruDiet in the year 2016 after working with several health and wellness organisations. She was featured in numerous nutrition awareness campaigns of several print media of Telangana. Also featured in All India Radio and other Television channels including Doordarshan as a health domain expert. She is in the top 10 nutritionists of Hyderabad for multiple years and was recognised for her work with several awards and accolades. She provided Diet care services to several notable film and TV personalities. She has also conducted wellness programs for corporate clients like InfoSys, CYIENT, and DeShaw.  Currently, she is also co-hosting an online webinar series ”Tuesday Tea talks” – which is a unique initiative featuring experts from Nutrition and Diet care talk on the trending topics of health care.




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