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Puberty: Transitional phase for girls: Dr Sujata Sanjay


By Our Staff Reporter

Dehradun, 7 Sep: A seminar, titled “Secondary Changes in Teens – Awareness Webinar” regarding Menstruation and other Concerns was conducted by the Sanjay Maternity Centre. As many as 55 nursing students and adolescent girls from Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh participated.
The speaker was Dr Sujata Sanjay who provided perspective on the biological processes, issues and concerns that transpire in the lives of adolescent girls. The students were made to understand the changes during adolescence, the physical, behavioral and psychological transfiguration, and the ways to effectively deal with the same.
Dr Sujata Sanjay, obstetrician & gynecologist at Sanjay Maternity Centre, Jakhan, said, “Early menarche raises a number of health issues related to the wellbeing of affected young girls, especially those who are less than 10 years of age and are not emotionally and psychologically mature to handle puberty. It is difficult even to train them to maintain menstrual hygiene. Suddenly, from a carefree child she becomes an adolescent who fails to understand the changes happening in her body, the anxiety of parents and also the restrictions imposed upon her. These vulnerable ones may face problems like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, smoking and even drug abuse. Early menarche has been linked to anaemia, irritability, loss of school days and negative impact on school performance. It has also been linked with higher incidence of breast carcinoma because of early exposure to the hormone oestrogen. A girl starts thinking of herself as a mature adult.
Even in girls with normal weight, an increased intake of non-vegetarian diet, consumption of soft drinks, processed and fast food have been associated with early menarche
Dr Sujata Sanjay explained, “In India, we are genetically predisposed to obesity and diabetes. Less muscle mass makes us more prone to diseases and hormonal imbalances. Bad eating habits, high stress levels, peer pressure and parents’ inability to connect with their children play a big role.”
“Unhealthy food habits, lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the main reasons for obesity. One needs to pay attention to calorie intake, but without excessive restriction on food. Physical activity, healthy eating and exercise should be encouraged,” she added. “We see extreme cases. An eight-year-old girl was once brought to our clinic after she started menstruating. On the other hand, there was an overweight girl of 20 going through menopause. Both are victims of abnormal secretion of sex hormones due to large fat mass.”
Gaining abnormal weight is responsible for the onset of premature puberty in girls and boys as well as early menopause. She pointed out, “Special days are a fact of life. It is a distinct biological female attribute that women should not be ashamed of. Girls should be encouraged to talk and discuss this in an informed and positive manner to prepare them for it emotionally and physically.”
“Due to poor hygiene, the lack or unaffordability of facilities and appropriate sanitary products may push menstruating girls temporarily or sometimes permanently out of school,” she said. To prevent early menarche, control of environmental factors is necessary. Children should be actively encouraged to follow a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet comprising fresh fruits and vegetables, less animal protein, fast and processed food. Children should be encouraged to play outside.