The age of teenagers generally consists of those ages from 10 to 20. This is basically the interval for an adolescence evolve from child hood to adult hood. The mental and physical of a teenager will keep on growing. The adolescent is going to experience a fast growth of sexual maturation as well.
Parents should have a knowledge of changes that occur during adolescence period so that they can understand the complex nature of teen age children and handle them better.
Adolescence is the period of transition from a child to a man/woman. It is a critical period not only for the kids but also for the parents. They can typically divided into 3 different stages:
– Early adolescence (10 to 14 years)
– Middle adolescence (14 to 17 years)
– Late adolescence (17 to 19 years)
Regular development during adolescence includes sexual maturation and an increase in body size. The physical energy of a teen ager is at its highest during this period. The activity of endocrine glands is the cause for the changes. This period when sexual maturation occurs is termed as ‘puberty’.
It is the brain (Hypothalamus) which decides, when to order release of hormones in an individual teen – ager. Different hormoves cause different changes. The ‘puberty’ changes are resulted in stimulation of testicles and ovaries via the pituitary bodily hormones. Brain tells (through signals) the pituitary gland to begin releasing gonadotropins, which stimulate the testicles in boys and the ovaries in girls. Growing reproductive organs, (testicles and ovaries) secrete the sex hormaones such as testosterone (boys) and estrogen (girls). These hormones cause the development of sexual charateristics, including public and auxillary hair in both sexes, facial hair and muscle mass in boys and breast growth in girls and also the sexual desire (bibido). All internal organs and external limbs etc get longer and larger. The body experiences an all round growth surge, which last for about 2 – 3 years. This is the ‘turbulent’ period for the teen agas and the period of anxiety for the parents. Parents may observe mood changes, change in sleeping patterns; during this period the teen agers need maximum support from the parents.
Sequences of puberty
• Age range: 9 to 12 – Growth of scrotum and testes. Male hormones start to get active.
• Age range: 11 to 14 – Growth spurt at its peak. Pubic hair growth begins. Reproductive organ increases in size & length.
• Age range: 11 to 16 – Under arm hair develops. There is a change in voice. Voice gets deeper. Facial hair grows.
• Age range – 14 to 18 – Physical growth reaches almost to adult range. Facial hair and chest hair increase. Some may have to start shaving.
Age range 9 to 11 – Hormone activity starts. Breast budding may start. Ovaries enlarge.
Age range 9 to 14 – Growth of soft, thin, pubic hair begins. Breast growth is manifest. Growth spur gets to peak. Height & weight increase considerably.
Age range – 9 to 15 – Breast growth continues. Pubic hair become coarser and darker. The girl may get first menstruation in the later part of the stage.
Age range 10 to 16 – Under arm hair begins to grow. Pubic hair continues to grow.
Age range 12 – 19 – This is the final stage of becoming an adult. Breasts reach adult size. Full height is altained. Menstruation cycle gets established ovulation occus monthly.
Adolescence is the period of emotional growth. Teen agers question established ethical values and traditions, much to the annoyance and despair of the parents. Their ‘sensitivity’ is highest during this period. They seek and develop friends and develop a retellious attitude. Boys try to prove that they are ‘cool’ adults; what they can not stand is taunts from their friends and also hate to the labelled as a ‘sissy’ – lesser man. Friends seem more important than parents. Parents need to understand that hormonal changes to push the kids into adult hood is the reason for the belligerant behaviour of their teen agers. Parents must treat the teen agers not only with sympathy but also with empathy! It is not that the teen agers do not revere their parents. They want or try to be independent.
Problems in adolescents
• In to days permissive society, getting off the moral track is an ever present temptation for teen agers. In the early adolescence stage, an increasing curiosity and interest in sexual anatomy and pubertal changes develop. The adolescents may start exploring sexual activities. Masturbation among boys is nearly universal and is perhaps less common among girls. In the later stage of adolescence, sexuality shifs from the exploratory stage to actual sex acts. Appropriate sexual education may be necessary. As teen agers like our cinema heros, believe in ‘intimate’ life long friends, homo-sexuality may become their first sexual experience. This induces guilt feeling and as we know, this guilt feeling may lead to depression. Girls also run the risk of becoming pregnant and teen mothers.
• School / college problems: school or college constitute a large part of adolescent’s existence. Here is where most problems of the teen agers mainfest. Fear of going to school / college, dropping out, quarrels with teachers, academic under – achievement. Exam stress. Peer pressure etc contribute to college problems.
• Most teenagers tend to engage in risk – taking adventures such as fast driving, sexual experimentation, etc. Another serious risk in addiction to alcohol and drugs. Some teenagers take to ielegal activities. We, in India have uitnessed several incidents of rich, teenagers, driving fast luxary cars with break – neck speed and killing several ‘platform’ dwellers. Teenagers involved are from hyper – rich families who can alford BMW / Benz cars.
• There are other mental health problems that may cropup. These are depression, anxiety, psychosis, suicidal tendancy, eating disorders etc.
1. Delayed puberty (medically called ‘Amenorrhoea) and Irregular periods. The first onset of menstruation in girls is called Menarche. In some girls puberty is delayed.
2. Puberty is the time at which the onset of sexual maturity occurs and reproductive organs become functional. Puberty usually starts between the age of 10 to 16. Every girl is different, so do not worry about when you start – your body will decide when it feels right. As said earlier, puberty is started and regulated by hormones produced by pituitary glands.
3. Physical changes that occur during puberty are regulated by changes in the levels of hormones produced by the pituitary gland. This gland produces luteinizing hormone (hormone that stimulates ovulation) and follicle stimulating hormone (hormone that stimulates ripening of the follicles in the ovary). The increased levels of these sex hormones result in physical change – growth & maturation of breasts, ovaries, Uterus and vagina.
Cause for delayed puberty are:
• Birth defect in which the Uterus and Fallopian tubes do not develop normally or by chromosomal disorder like Turner syndrome.
• Anaemia or general ill health.
• Serious illnesses like T.B. Bright’s disease or malaria of prolonged nature.
• Disorders of the hypothalamus (a part of the brain)
• Deficiency in the secretions of ovarian, Thyroid and Pituitary hormones
• Mental disorders, depression
• Thin women, with Anorexia Nervosa
• Excessive stress, exercises, eating too little.
Picture credited to Wikipedia
4. (A) Home Remedies – Puberty
• For physically underdeveloped thin girls, ‘laddoos’ made with gingelly and jaggery are given daily at lunch time. This brings about puberty and also can regularise the menstrual flow. Gingelly decoction is also used, to bring about quick puberty. Gingelly – jaggery rolls can be given to young girls for menstrual regulation but NOT to pregnant woman – it may cause abortion.
• A pinch of safforn, well crushed in a tablespoon of milk is another recipe for under developed girls.
• Chutney made with coriander leaves, curry leaves, mint or Fenugreek leaves helps in full growth of the adolescent girls. Mint is a good uterine tonic. These greens help in checking anaemia.
Ayurveda considers teenage as that governed by pitta dosha which is associated with transformation, heat and metabolism. To balance pitta, teenagers should eat cooling nourishing diet.
4(B) Other menstruation problems
Dysmenorrhea is painful menstruation of which there are two forms. Primary (spasmodic) dysmenorrhea is characterized by lower abdominal pains starting just before or with the menstrual flow and continuing during menstruation. It is often associated with nausea, vomiting, head ache, faintness, constipation and diarrhea. Specific cause is not known but could be due to excessive prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins (hormone like substances) have many functions, one of which is to cause contraction of the Uterus. Primary dysmenorrhea may become less with age and after pregnanacy.
Secondary dysmenorrhea usually affects older patients causing congested ache with lower abdominal cramps, pelvic pain etc. The pain may start from a few days to up 2 weeks before menstruation. Common causes for secondary dysmenorrhea are pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, In some cases, the pain results from passage of menstrual blood through a narrow cervix.
Per menstrual irritablity, nervousness, depression and abdominal bloating may persist during part or all of the menstrual period.
Menorragia and Metrorrhagia
Menorrhagia means abnormally heavy bleeding at menstruation which may or may not be associated with abnormally long periods Hormonal imbalances, inflammation or fibroids in the pelvic cavity, anaemia and some other conditious may be the causes.
Metrorrhagia is bleeing from Uterus other than the normal menstrual period. It may indicate serious disease and should always be investigated.
According to Ayurveda, these conditions are due to imbalance of hormones, caused by aggravation of pitta in the body. Abnormal growths in the Uterus may also produce profuse bleeding. Heavy bleeding may cause giddiness, head ache, pain in the calves and restlessness.
Mint chutney or mint decoction decreases mentrual pain & cramps.
1. Ladies Fingers – A decoction is made with boiling 100 grams of Ladies Finger in 1/2 litre of water for 20 minutes and then filtered. This decoction, sweetened and given in doses of 60 to 90 ml frequently is beneficial.
2. Douches using fenugreek seeds, Guava leaves walnut leaves or even just warm water could reduce purulent discharge and clean the area. But douches may be used in consultation with a doctor.
Leucorrhea refers to whitish or yellowish discharge of mucus from the vaginal opening. It may occur normally at all times, the quantity increasing before or after menstruation. An abnormally large discharge may indicate infection of the lower reproductive tract by the protozoan “Trichomonas vaginalis”.
Ayurveda considers that the cause for leucorrhea is vitiation of ‘kapha’. It affects weak, emaciated and anaemic women more. Inflamma tion of womb following child birth, displacement of Uterus or veneral diseases. Unhygienic conditions also may be some of the causes.
In addition to whitish discharge, there may be pain in the lumbar region, calves. Other symptoms are constipation, frequent head aches and intense itching.
Home Remedies for Gynecological Disorders
For menstrual problems
1. Apiece of fresh ginger, should be pounded and boiled in a cup of water for a few minutes. This infusion sweetened with sugar should be used thrice daily after meals.
2. Banana flowers. The use of banana flowers in cases of excessive menstruation is well know and effective. One banana flower should be cooked and eaten with one cup of curd. The quantity of progesterone is increased, reducing the bleeding.
3. Sesame seeds. Half a teaspoon of powder of sesame seeds taken with hot water twice daily reduces spasmodic pain during menstruation in young, virgin anaemic girls. A warm hip bath containing a handful of crushed sesame seeds should be simultaneously taken along with this recipe.
4. Coriander seeds are also beneficial in treating excessive menstruation. Six grams of coriander seeds boiled in half a litre of water. The decoction should be taken off the fire when only half off the water remains. Sugar candy should be added to it and the patient should drink when it is still warm.
5. seven tender leaves of pomegranate tree and seven grains of rice ground into paste and given to a patient for a month twice daily, act both as curative as well as a preventive medicine in cases of excessive / irregular menstruation.
Importance of Certain Ayurvedic Herbs
1. Saraca Indica – Strong Astringent, used in Uterine affectations and in Menorrhagia. Uterine sedative Direct action on Uterus. Stimulates endometrium & Ovarian tissue.
2. Symplocos racemosacooling, Astringent, Useful in Menorrhagia, bowel complaints, eye diseases and Ulcers. Arrests uterine haemorrhage.
3. Side cordifolia:- Aphrodisiac, treats micturition and leuccorrhoea.
4. Tribulus terrestis:- Cooling, diuretic, aphrodisiac, used in painful micturition. Takes care of pains, during PMS.
5. Asparagus race mosus – Refrigerant, demulcent, diuretic Aphrodisiac.
6. Vitis Vinifera – For skin diseases, Astringent, Cooling, Sweet, laxative, stomachic, useful in Thirst, heat of the body.
7. Boerhavia repens – D i – uretic, laxative, expectorant, in asthma stomachic, in oedema, aneamia, anasarca, scanty urine and internal inflammation.
8. Viburnam – Used in menorrhagia and in post partumhaemorrage.
9. Embelica officinalis – Acrid, Cooling, refrigerant, diuretic, aperient, Useful in haemorrhage in combination with iron for anemia
10. Aloe vera – Emmenagogue, in menstrual suppressions, purgative, cooling induces ovulation.
11. Nigella sativa Emmanagogue, stimlant, carminative, diuretic glalctagogue, skin care.
12. Cissusquadrangularis – For irregular menstruation, As thma, for digestive troubles.
13. Sessamumindicum – Emmenagogue, tonic, lactagogue emmolient, for Urinary complaints.
14. Acacia arabica – Astringent, tonic, demulcent, used to treat vaginal discharge.
15. Bombax pentandrum – Tonic, alternative, Astringent and Laxative.
16. Berberis aristata – Astringent & Tonic Arrests internal bleeding.
17. Bryonia laciniosa – Uterine tonic.
18. Ricinus communis – Takes care of problems like water retention and low back ache in PMS Other Useful Herbs are:- Hemide smus indicus, Bryonia laciniosa, Brassica juncea, Cedrus deodara etc.
Acne and Pimples
Acnes and pimples herald the arrival of puberty. Teenage girls dread acne and obssively, try to get rid of them. Acne is a common skin condition associated with adolescence and produce pimples on the face & upper for so. The word Acne itself is associated with youth. Its root word in ‘acne’ meaning ‘start of happy life’. There is no preventive method. Teen age is the period of pimples and in many cases it is temporary and disappears when ado,escence ends. There are 3 reasons why acne occurs.
1. Secretions of sex hormones.
2. Excessive secretion of sebaceous glands that secrete sebum, the oil that helps skin and hair.
3. Bacterial infection.
There is no medicine available or needed for the first cause. The other two causes can be managed with medicines. Because Teen – age triggers excessive sebum production, acne occurs exclusively in adolescence. Exit to the sebaceous gland (in the hair follicle) gets blocked, resulting in black heads and pimples.
Pimples are of 4 types – The first two types are not serious and could be used with creams containing vitamin ‘A’, Ery thromycin, sulphur. For thrid and fourth type pimples, approach doctor. But now – a days the suring in towards herbal ayurvedic pimple cures. Ayurvedic cure is comphrensive, starts with diet regimen, and develops a skin care regimen.
• Do not pick, poke at acne. Do not squeeze the pimples, do not touch or prick them.
• Wash the affected areas, once or twice a day, gently with a mild soap. Do not go for anti – bacterial or abrasive soaps. Do not scrub frequently. Use a soft towel and pat way.
• Avoid food items high in oil, sugar & salt. Avoid bakery products. Stop ‘junk foods’. Include more fruits in your diet. Avoid condiments, pickles, soft drinks etc.
• Face packs:- The following partes can be made & applied to face.
(i) 5 gm of Jeera paste or cloves paste
(ii) 5 gm of red sandal wood and turmeric, made into a paste with milk.
(iii) Paste of nutmeg.
(iv) One tablespoon multani mitti, 5 ground cloves, a pinch of camphor and rose water, ground to a paste.
(v) 1 tsp of fresh coriander powder, a pinch of turmeric powder made into a paste. Apply their drictly on pimples & leave it over night. Similary paste of curry leaves, fenugreek leaves can be used.
(vi) 1 tsp of cinnamon powder and 3 tablespoon of honey.
• Juice of Aloe vera or ripe tomato pulp or raw papaya can be applied on the affected areas.
• Apply fresh tender coconut water in the morning and before evening daily. Let it dry & then wash it away with water. This will remove the marks left by pimples.
• Make a juice of cucumber, dip cotion into the juice, dab all over the face. Remove after sometime. You can use juice of potatoes with honey, similarly. Apply this like a mask on the face, leave for 10 minutes and wash. These methods will remove black heads and masks left by pimples.
• Associated dandruff should be treated.
• Constipation, one of the reasons for Aene, is to be treated. Take 1 spoonful of Isalagol daily before sleeping at night.
• Pimples diappear when rubbed with garlic several times a day.
• Vitamin therapy, spifically miacin and vitamin A, has been used to treat acne. zinc taken in 50 mg doses, thrice a day in very beneficial in clearing Acne. Consult your doctor.
Ayurvedic generic medicines
1. Kumkumathi lepam – skin vitamin for pimples
2. Blood puritying herbal medicines – saribadyasava, Tripala churana
Health issues for male teenagers
Puberty does not seem to bother the boys as much as it does the girls. The start of production of sperms is called ‘spermarche: The symptoms of delayed spermarche in males are – lack of testicular enlargement by age 131/2, lack of pubic hair by age 15, or a time lapse of more than 5 years from the start to the completion of genital enlargement. Boysmature later than girls. Boys do not experience and physical involuntry discharges like menstruation.
Treatment, it necessary, involves use of supplementacy sex hormones. There could be psychological problems due to ego, earlier push to independence, stronger restrictions of peers, negative attitude etc. The parents should at this stage, treat the teenager as friend.
In primary Amenorrhoea, the menstrual periods fail to appear at puberty. In second – ary amenorrhoea the periods start at puberty, and then stop. In some cases even after menarche, the girls do not experience regular cycles every month. The delayed puberty in girls are – lack of breast development by age 13, more than 5 years from the beginning of breast growth to the first menstrual period, lack of pubic hair by age 14, or failure to menstruate by age 16. A short height (short stature) may indicate delayed maturation in both boys and girls.
There are medicines like Ashokarishta, Drakkshadi churanam etc. Consult an Ayurvedic Physician.
Advice to parents
• Handle teen agers gingerly with, a pair of silk gloves. Do not try ‘your generation’ methods. Teenagers prefer approval of their friends than of their parents. They will be anything to get that ‘manly’ image from their friends especially girl friends. Whatever method the parents adopt, they must not use harsh methods to control the adolescents. There is no single specific thumb ruk to handle rebellious emotional teen agers – parents have to adapt methods appropriate to the situation. Influence of grand parents could work.
• Parents should be on guard to check whether their kids go astray, take drugs and resort to sexual activities. This needs constant vigil. Watch surreptiously activities of your boy / girl and his / her friends.
• Get your wards to engage more in outdoor activities – like swimming, games trekking etc.
• Yoga is immensely beneficial to teen – agers. So also meditation.
• Parents should ensure that the teenagers get adquate, nutritious food.
• Stand by your kids in cares of emotional or physical gisis and help them to get over the feeling of insecunity common in adolescence.