No I am not here to promote teens trying to conceive! But what I would like to discuss is what are the signs of fertility and why are they so important for our female teens? (even when NOT looking to conceive)
Why should you care? You’ve heard of vital signs before – Key indicators that you are alive and well – blood pressure, heart beat/rate, breathing rate, and temperature…..they sound important right? Well signs of fertility (ie ovulating) IS a vital sign for females of all ages. The female cycle is complex and involves numerous systems in the body working together – when we have signs of fertility we have a very clear indicator of health.
Plus I am a firm believer that the more a person knows about fertility and how to assess it, the more control and empowerment they also have. Education really is power!
SO let’s look over the signs that your teen is having a healthy cycle.
1. Signs of a healthy cycle:
Regularity: Your period should show up on a ‘regular’ cycle…meaning that it comes at the same time interval. The interval will vary between individuals – but it can range from 21 to 35 days. Anything longer or shorter means there is an irregularity that needs to be talked about with your healthcare provider. HOWEVER in teenagers (especially in the first 2 years of menstruating) cycles can be much longer – and it is still considered healthy up to 45 days long, but still no shorter than 21days.
Spotting: this is when you have blood spotting in between your periods – light spotting on the day of ovulation is common and normal – but if there is spotting between periods that is not related to ovulation then it needs to be investigated and could be indicative of a gynecological condition.
Flow: meaning the amount of blood in which you lose during your period. The total amount from start to finish should be about 50mL (3 tablespoons). Less than 25mL is considered scanty, more than 80mL is considered heavy; both should be brought to the attention of your health care provider. Unless you are using a diva cup, these measurements are hard to decipher. You can estimate though by the number of pads or tampons you use: one soaked regular pad or tampon holds 5mL (1 teaspoon). A super tampon holds 10mL.
2. Signs of Ovulation:
Cervical Mucus: So here is where we talk about vaginal discharge (aka Cervical Fluid), you know that white stuff in your underwear….it is supposed to be there! Fluid is made by your cervix, it has a huge role in fertility, but also vaginal discharge keeps your vagina moist and healthy and free from infection!
Healthy discharge is white or light yellow and can have a mild salty odor.
If your discharge has a bad smell or causes discomfort or itching, you may have an infection and should see your healthcare provider.
Your cervical fluid changes throughout the course of your cycle – and how it changes is one main indicator of ovulation. After your period you may have some dry days or you may have sticky or creamy discharge – as you approach ovulation (roughly mid-cylce) this will change to what is known as fertile mucus – it has the consistency of raw egg white – it feels wet and slippery. It can sometimes occur in fairly large quantities. This fertile mucus is actually essential for sperm survival!
Other signs of ovulation: a regular period, a rise in basal body temperature and an increase in progesterone (measured by blood test) or a surge in luteinizing hormone (measured in urine)
BUT a period is not a definite sign of ovulation – you can still have a period without ovulating – this is known as an anovulatory cycle. Hence why we look at all the factors listed above to predict the health of your cycle.
“Premenstrual syndrome” – cramps, irritability, breast pain, acne, headaches, anxiety, depression, weepiness….these are the commonly reported symptoms associated with menses. These are COMMON, but they are not a sign of a normal or health cycle. If you suffer from any of these symptoms it’s time to come in and get your cycle assessed! PMS does not need to be a part of your cycle!!
PMS has been used to trivialize women’s emotions – this is a problem. Your emotions should not be dismissed by anyone as simply ‘hormonal’.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Having a regular, healthy, ovulatory cycle is a KEY indicator in female health. Understanding what a true healthy cycle looks like is the first step. Identifying trouble areas is the next. The final step is where some big issues lie: how do we regulate or treat menstrual complaints. It has become VERY commonplace that young females with ANY complaint are immediately prescribed hormonal birth control. Here are the issues with this:
- The birth control pill does not CURE any of these complaints – it simply masks them.
- It actually shuts down key hormones necessary for a healthy female body – which then leads to the following symptoms/side effects: depression, loss of libido, hair loss, weight gain, high blood pressure, nutrient deficiencies, reduced thyroid function, digestive problems, yeast infections and abnormal PAP smears, and it can prevent young females from forming healthy bones.
Having a Health Cycle means increase chances of:
- Healthy Metabolism and Body Weight
- Healthy Hair
- Healthy Bones
- Healthy Mood
Disclaimer: This does not mean I don’t support the use of birth control – there is a time and a place, and for some it’s the right choice. But it needs to be made from an informed perspective. Understand the ramifications of using it. If it’s something that is needed than work with your naturopath to build a plan that can at least help support some of the negative effects that come with the hormonal birth control pill.
Join Dr. TeWinkel for another Webinar this Thursday February 6th at 8pm alllll about teenage periods! We will talk more about:
-what a healthy period looks like
Also please email us at [email protected] if you have specific concerns/questions you would Dr. TeWinkel to cover.
Dr. TeWinkel is on a mission to improve teen health and build it’s foundations so they can own their health for the rest of their life.
When a teen is supported in their health early on, the stage for success can really be set.
Teens and their families are often given limited choices to deal with their health concerns. Whether it be hormonal struggles, acne, painful periods, anxiety and depression, dieting and healthy weight management or sexual health – all of these can be addressed with a tailored plan to each teen.