Home Life Style UAE: Understanding Why Girls as Young as 8 Experience Their First Period

UAE: Understanding Why Girls as Young as 8 Experience Their First Period

The early onset of the first period is associated with various factors, including higher socio-economic status, obesity, nutritional status, and overall health.

by Jamsheera
Early Puberty in girls

When UAE resident S.S. discovered that her eight-and-a-half-year-old daughter M.S. had begun menstruating, she was taken aback. None of the women in her family had a history of early menstruation, and she was unaware of anyone who had experienced it at such a young age.

“At first, her menstrual cycles were irregular, but shortly after she turned nine, they became extremely heavy,” she explained. “At one point, she experienced very heavy bleeding for an entire month. She was afraid to sleep because every morning, her clothes and bed linens would be stained.”

M.S. is part of a growing cohort of young girls experiencing early menstruation. Some doctors report cases of children as young as eight starting their periods.

Dr. Amal Abdelaziz, Consultant and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Thumbay University Hospital, explained, ‘Worldwide, the average age of puberty varies between 8 and 14 years, influenced by factors such as ethnicity. It’s common for girls aged 10 to 12 to start menstruating, which is considered normal.

Start of Puberty

Some experts suggest that the early onset of menstruation is influenced by various factors, including higher socio-economic status, obesity, nutritional status, and overall health.

“Dr. Charles Nagy, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Medcare Women & Children Hospital, remarked, ‘Today’s pre-teens are experiencing maturation at a quicker pace than any previous generation. The average age of menarche, the onset of first menstruation, has decreased steadily in the developed world, from 17 years a century ago to 9 years today. Although boys are also entering puberty earlier, the rate of increase is not as alarming.’

“These experts also advise parents to educate their children about menstruation sooner rather than later. ‘Pediatricians recommend discussing puberty around age 8, just before physical changes commence,’ Dr. Nagy explained. ‘Most children can grasp the basics by age 6 or 7. Look for signs of readiness and find an appropriate moment to broach the topic, such as when children inquire about physical changes, ask about where babies come from, or when you’re shopping for tampons or pads.

S.S. mentioned that she had initiated conversations about menstruation with her daughter from a very early age, which contributed to her daughter’s mental preparedness. “I began discussing the concept with her when she was quite young, and I even demonstrated how to use a pad,” she explained. “This preparation aided her when she experienced her period at such a young age.”

Medical Intervention

In certain cases, early onset of menstruation may necessitate medical intervention, particularly if the girl encounters complications.

“Medical intervention is essential for girls experiencing precocious puberty, occurring before the age of 8,” explained Dr. Abddelaziz. “In such cases, medication is administered to halt menstruation, allowing for normal growth. Early puberty or periods may impede normal height attainment and pose risks for future health issues, including an increased cancer risk.”

S.S. recounted seeking medical intervention for her daughter after prolonged periods. “It was heartbreaking as a mother to watch my daughter return home from school every day completely spent and exhausted,” she shared. “I consulted doctors, had her bloodwork done, and explored alternative medicines. Now, at the age of 11, her periods are regular, she experiences a normal flow, and it only lasts seven days.”

Dr. Abddelaziz emphasized that certain factors warrant a medical checkup. “Intense pain throughout the menstrual cycle, heavy bleeding, irregular periods, and issues with recurring infections require thorough evaluation,” she stated. “This includes a physical examination, a review of the patient’s medical history, and any necessary diagnostic testing.”

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