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Onset of menstruation and growth


Jellybeans
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This is a spin off from another thread where I read that girls tend to stop growing about two years after the onset of menstruation. Is this generally thought to be about right? I have always thought that it was much sooner than that.

 

I know there will always be exceptions to the rule but would be interested to hear other people's thoughts and experiences!

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Didn't it also say somewhere in the other thread that girls who are very physically active may have the onset of their periods delayed? What are the physical triggers? Is weight one of them? Isn't their height genetically predisposed? (within reason and given good nutrition and general health) So many questions - sorry!

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You have to weigh six and a half stone before ovulation can occur. This is the trigger for menstruation but excessive exercise or starvation can prevent it.

Edited by Fiz
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I don't know, it sounded about right so I've looked at my friend Google and found these links, which both seem to suggest that an upward groth spurt signals the start of puberty, periods start around 2 years later and there's not much growing afterwards.

http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growth/growth_13_to_18.html#

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/articles/lifecycle/teenagers/girl_s_growth.shtml

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Really interesting soodles thanks but do you know if onset of menstruation is delayed through physical exercise/low weight does that impact upon their final height or are they destined to be a particular height genetically whether they reach that at 12 or 16?

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Body fat percentage is critical for oestrogen levels, which need to be a certain level to trigger menstruation. According to McArdle, Katch & Katch (2005) "Physically active women, particularly participants in the "low-weight" or "appearance sports", (e.g distance running, ballet, figure skating) increase their likelihood for one of three maladies:

 

1. Delayed onset of menstruation

2. Irregular menstrual cycle (oligomenorrhea)

3. Complete cessation of menses

 

(From the book "Essentials of Exercise physiology".)

 

They go onto say that as a group, ballet dancers exhibit a greater incidence of menstrual dysfunction and a higher average age at menarche (starting periods) than age-matched, non-dancers, and that this irregularity or absence of menses accelerates bone loss and increases the risk of bone injury.

 

According to their text, some authors cite 17% body fat is the minimum needed for periods to begin, and 22% for sustain a normal cycle. However, they also say that this is not definitive; some with lower than 17% have normal periods, others with higher have abnormal periods!

 

When working with professional ballet dancers, we measure body composition as part of fitness testing. Any females with a body fat percentage below 13% is referred to the physiotherapist and healthcare team to follow up.

 

 

NB Growth continues until into the early twenties, on average.

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There are also studies that onset of puberty is occurring earlier in girls. The causes, from what I read, are as yet unknown.

 

If onset is triggered by weight - how does height at the time of onset affect the weight? In other words, if the child is taller at onset that means her bones weigh more but she does not necessarily have the same fat component as a girl who is shorter but weighs the same.

 

Weight is made of of several variables: muscles (which weigh more than fat), bones, fat, internal organs. So, I'm not sure that the word "weight" is a singular word - or a simple measure.

 

A short girl with much fat, can weigh the same as a taller girl who is slender.

 

But....

 

A short girl with much fat, can weigh the same as a girl who is the same height - but because of physical exercise has more developed muscles which weigh more than fat.

 

And....some people have larger bones (with varying heights) and some people have more slender bones (with varying heights).

 

I think we are looking for "rules" here - and I'm not sure there are any which are hard and fast.

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'Weight' per se as Anjuli quite correctly said, depends on muscles, and bones as well as fat. Incidentally, it is for this reason that BMI is not a good indicator of health in the physically active, as muscles weigh much more than fat.... using BMI a dancer may appear to be an 'ok' weight because of their strong well-developed muscles rather than their body fat, but if their body composition is measured accurately using skinfold testing or body fat analysis this gives a much more accurate picture.

 

As for rules - actually there is a hard and fast rule regarding body fat. Anything lower than 13% is a red flag.

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Skinfold testing involves using metal callipers to measure the skin thickness at carefully measured/calculated sites in the body and using these measurements with very complicated equations to calculate body fat percentage. It is a technique carried out by trained physiologists and other healthcare professionals and although there are videos on youtube etc I wouldn't recommend doing it without training in locating the anatomical landmarks as it can be painful if you pinch the wrong place with the callipers.

 

You might be able to get your DD tested at the doctors or a good sports medicine clinic could maybe do it - I don't know if the vocational schools do it as part of their screenings, but it might be worth enquiring with the physio if you're concerned.

 

There are other less reliable ways of measuring %BF at home, try this website http://www.army.mod.uk/armyineducation/resources/flash/PE/default.aspx but bear in mind that the results are estimates, and I don't know how suitable it is for use with children.

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This thread seems to have moved on from growth somewhat! Is there any evidence out there to suggest at what point girls stop growing in relation to the onset of menstruation, regardless of age, weight, height or body fat percentage at the time?

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Hi Spannerandpony - I don't mind you asking at all! I have a degree in sports rehabilitation and injury prevention (1st class) and a PhD in dance specific exercise physiology during which I worked with a couple of professional ballet companies and a vocational school (which I obviously can't name!) - my main area of research was how different elements of fitness (which included body composition, as well as stamina, flexibility, strength, power and endurance affect injury and performance in classical ballet dancers.

 

My main area of interest now (it's a bit of a passion, actually!) is the safe and effective training of vocational dance students, particularly in the 11-16 age group.

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As for growth, the general consensus is that the growth spurts stop at around 2 years after the onset of menstruation. But girls don't actually stop growing until late teens/early twenties and this does depend largely on the individual.

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Off topic I know, but still growth related! I've recently been doing some family history research and have accessed my grandfather's WW1 war record. It includes his medical record and i was amazed to read that his height, weight and chest circumference as a "fit" adult male in 1917 were almost identical to my 14 year old DD's current measurements. He had been on active serivce since 1915 so I imagine he was not at his peak of health but I was still really surprised by the comparison. I assume it's a lot to do with changes in nutrition in the past century and I think it's interesting how our perceptions of "normal" growth and stature must have changed since then.

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Several years ago when dd had her first dance-related injury (fractured metatarsal) we were extremely lucky in finding a local physio who had a lot of experience with dancers. Almost the first thing she asked was if dd had regular peroids as she said this was a good indication of her overall health.

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Hi Spannerandpony - I don't mind you asking at all! I have a degree in sports rehabilitation and injury prevention (1st class) and a PhD in dance specific exercise physiology during which I worked with a couple of professional ballet companies and a vocational school (which I obviously can't name!) - my main area of research was how different elements of fitness (which included body composition, as well as stamina, flexibility, strength, power and endurance affect injury and performance in classical ballet dancers.

 

My main area of interest now (it's a bit of a passion, actually!) is the safe and effective training of vocational dance students, particularly in the 11-16 age group.

 

I think in answer to the question of Spanner "but are you of a medical background" The answer is "no"? Since Dr Dance is not a Physiotherapist, Osteopath, Chiropractor or a GP or Orthopedic Surgeon, I am assuming Dr Dance is not qualified to "Medically" diagnose or treat patients with dance related injuries. However in the context of the original post on this thread has a very valuable contribution to make with the studies and research carried out and achieved. If my assumptions are incorrect please do clarify. The work Dr Dance describes is highly valuable to the health and well being of young dancers, but I do feel the original question put by Spanner needs clarification.

 

edited for typos'

Edited by Nana Lily
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I have been told by my former GP (sadly he retired early due to his own ill health :( ) that menstruation age which had speeded up to a very young age - I know a girl who started at the age of nine! - and is now starting to swing the other way and that is not unusual for girls to be sixteen and over before puberty kicks in now.

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I wonder also if what we eat has any bearing? Food additives, and medicines and hormones added to meat etc. must surely affect our own insides. It's one of the reasons why I try to buy as much organic food as possible, and to limit the amount of additives we all ingest (occasional lapses excepted). I read that additives and diet in general have played a part in how growth has changed over the years.

 

D'you know what though - we can do all the guessing and calculation in the world, but to a large degree, what will be will be! I can try to keep my dd as healthy as possible with regard to what she eats, but at the end of the day her height has already been pre-determined. Like anything else, the best thing to do is to make the best of whatever you've got! :-)

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My DD started her periods when she was 13, she was (and still is) in vocational ballet training and has only just reached 6 1/2 stone at nearly 16! Periods have always been fairly regular.

 

As all the women in our family are tiny and both my dd and I started at around 13 years of age so i am not convinced there is a 'magic number'for weight before periods should occur as it was not until I hit my 20's that I reached the weight mentioned above. Neither of us is (or was) in any way annorexic just very tiny.

 

Not sure if this helps but may ease some concerns for mothers of smaller sized dd's.

 

T

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My DD didn't start until she was 14.5 years and she was 5ft9 then!!!! Do hope she won't grow much more ;) - that said, I stopped growing before I started my periods (full adult height at 11) so she may well take after me....

F x

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Frangapani that made laugh !

 

I too stopped growing at the age of 11 at the height of 5' 6" and a bit ! Perods came on my 13th birthday :(

 

Then I stood back and watched most of my friends pass me reaching up to to 5' 10", and I also have a female cousin who is standing at 6' 1".

 

At least we can stand where we want at a pop concert and see the stage.!

J x

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NanaLily: I am a fully qualified and insured Graduate Sports Rehabilitator (GSR) which is regulated by the British Association of Sports Rehabilitators and Trainers (BASRaT - see www.basrat.org/role.asp for more details). This is the equivalent of the American Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC - www.nata.org).

 

The BASRaT website states that "A Graduate Sport Rehabilitator (GSR) is a graduate level autonomous healthcare practitioner specialising in musculoskeletal management, exercise based rehabilitation and fitness."

 

Edited to add: So to answer the question "are you of a medical background?" The answer is No as I am not a physician, nurse or medic. However, physiotherapists, osteopaths, nutritionists, chiropractors are not technically of a medical background either. All, including GSRs, are allied healthcare professionals.

Edited by drdance
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All of which needs to be related to activities in the dance classroom and the experience of being both a student in such a classroom as well as a teacher with multiple students under one's care and supervision. All the while satisfying the concerns and expectations of parents, students and peers and ballet standards. A daunting task for any teacher.

 

That's where the tire meets the road - :)

 

And, I don't mean that negatively - its just a reality.

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Because I'm not quite sure what is meant by that comment, and because I appreciate that people want reassurance that someone posting information on these forums is reliable, I will attempt to respond to the points made. If anyone would like my website address - it has more details of my training and dance experience - please PM me and I'll happily give you the details :-)

 

I agree, Anjuli, in that I think you are inferring that it's all well and good having knowledge but it's how you use it that matters (?) . Knowledge is power - but only if one uses that knowledge appropriately. But for me, applying science to dance is not a daunting task; the relationship between how the human body works at its best cannot be separated from dance training/performance. Even from a young age it fascinated me and it has helped me explain things to my pupils in the dance studio, as well as advise countless students (and parents!).

 

All of which needs to be related to activities in the dance classroom .

 

Indeed - and I do relate my knowledge to training in the dance studio, on a regular basis, and I intend to for the forseeable future. As I wrote in an earlier post, it is my passion that dance training becomes more effective and better for dancers' long term health.

 

experience of being both a student in such a classroom

 

I trained at one of the conservatoire for dance and drama colleges in London following very good training at home, and then trained in the studio to Advanced 2 level with 2 ISTD examiners, and an RAD examiner, while completing my academic studies.

 

as well as a teacher with multiple students under one's care and supervision. All the while satisfying the concerns and expectations of parents, students and peers and ballet standards.

 

I have been teaching for 12 years in dance schools, while completing my academic studies. I have a pupil at the Royal Ballet School as well as having put countless pupils through RAD and ISTD examinations, and have a 100% pass rate to my name. I set up a supplementary dance training scheme a year ago and have had many positive comments from parents, and dance teaching colleagues about that scheme. I also have a PGCE and teach in a state secondary school (science and dance to A-level).

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