News Delhi: The most critical and sensitive phase of a person’s life is adolescence. Marked by rapid physical growth, a lot of psychological changes also take place during this period. Neither does a person remain a child nor does he/she become an adult.
In a developing country like India, the time is more critical, especially for girls. There is no denying the fact that India is a male chauvinistic society and females are not considered to be at par with the males.
Lack of awareness and knowledge coupled with social norms make matters tougher for the girls. However, proper parental care and change attitude of the society would facilitate the girls to grow and use their potentials.
Malnutrition and anemia: Despite India graduating into a near-digital nation, the notion that the male child will have the best share of food and nutrition is still prevailing. It is embedded in the psyche that females are born to do household chores and thus need less food. This has highly contributed to the rise in the cases of malnutrition. Widespread poverty and price hike have also facilitated the disease to spread like wildfire.
Worm infestations and menstrual abnormalities, both menorrhagia and polymenorrhea also cause anemia. Ensuring proper sanitation facilities would help in curbing the menace.
Menstruation-related issues: Problems related to menstrual cycle are also common in India. The age of the normal menarche may vary from 12 to 16 years and it depends on numerous factors. Late menarche, a common disorder, is due to lack of nutrition as being underweight is a major factor menarche. The length of the menstrual cycle may vary from 21 to 41 days. Initial menstrual cycles are anovulatory and are relatively longer. These cycles become regular after 2 to 2.5 years, so initial irregular menstrual cycles need not to be feared.
Many myths surround the normal menstruation. Educating them about this physiological condition enables them to understand many of the problems and allows their normal activities with no restrictions during menstruation.
Whereas malnutrition leads to poor cognitive function, general ill health affects their potential to achieve the best in studies and other activities. Although iron supplementation is given for adolescent girls to treat anemia but it is healthier to improve their overall diet as these girls have diets deficient in calories, proteins, and other essential nutrients.
A good diet is essential for proper growth and development of adolescents. Vitamin D and calcium enriched diet and proper exercises help in building up the bone mass. In females, bone mass starts declining after 30 years of age. A low bone mass in an adolescent is a risk factor for osteoporosis at a later age.
Early sexual exposure can lead to many problems like STDs and reproductive tract infections. Sexually transmitted infections may persist as chronic or recurrent infections and may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease involving cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection acquired at this age may later lead to premalignant or malignant changes in the cervix. Early sexual exposure may also lead to teenage pregnancies, it may affect the health of the woman and may have long-term consequences physically and psychologically. Thus, Health education including sex education should be accessible to all adolescents.
Mood swings: Mood swings are very common in teenage girls. However, these are normal due to physiological changes in body but parent should make sure it is not depression. Teenagers go through much emotional turmoil at this age and the problem might get raked up if the parents ignore them. Psychological problems like emotional disturbances, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and eating disorders may also affect the health of adolescent. Psychological support and counseling can help them with these problems.
A good relationship with parents, other family members, teachers and positive friends will help adolescent enjoy a positive health leading to healthy adulthood.
Our relentless support to India’s betis (girls) will not only build a healthy nation but will help in building a colossal human resource.
(Picture Courtesy: amysmartgirls.com)