Teenagers and hormones. A supercharged combination! Is your household ready for it?
My son is 9. I want to bottle this age. Growing up but still my little man. But watching both the boys and girls in this age group, reveals subtle but real hormone changes – a warm up for what is about to hit!
Puberty is marked in both boys and girls by immense surges in powerful reproductive hormones that not only cause BIG physical and emotional changes, but also prepares their bodies for adulthood, defining their gender and sexuality.
More often than not though, both parents and your teens are not ready, nor prepared for the changes. Girls usually go through puberty at a younger age than boys and so the rollercoaster begins. And it seems that it is occurring at younger age these days. I’ve had girls as young as nine starting their periods (menarche) being brought into my clinic – parents desperate for help, seeking some sort of balance amidst the massive changes.
The changes are vastly different for both boys and girls. That is because their main driving hormones (oestrogen in girls, testosterone in boys) are very different. So what are the changes that occur?
- Breast development
- Menarche (Periods)
- Pubic & body hair
- Mood Changes
- Growth spurt (masculine traits)
- Pubic and body hair
- Physical strength
- Voice deepens
There are many solutions to assist a smoother transition for both sexes during this time. For girls, periods may be irregular in the beginning. This may be caused by the belief that as many as 80% of young girls don’t actually ovulate in the first 2-3 years of their menstrual cycle. As progesterone is produced and released by an (ovulated) egg, the absence of this happy hormone can lead to heavier, longer periods, mood swings, depression, anxiety, self consciousness, volatility and even acne. By ensuring they have adequate nutrients and supplementing herbs such as paeonia, vitex and magnolia, you can help to balance the rollercoaster. An issue that can affect young girls is having an imbalance in their mineral levels. Although copper is an essential mineral, in excess it can block many other protective vital nutrients and its best friend is oestrogen. They egg each other on, magnifying the potential abnormal symptoms. In worse cases, I have had girls in clinic who have eating disorders, major depressive and anxiety disorders and are even self harming. A Hair mineral toxic element analysis can identify this and the imbalance can be corrected.
In boys, the transition can be a little smoother, but not without the discomfort of learning to cope with the changes. An adequate balance of essential vitamins and minerals can assist in maintaining optimal health. Remember the nutrient requirements of an active teenage male are quite large and they often use more than they can consume. Any copper imbalance in boys can often improve at puberty for boys, where testosterone can help in lowering excessive oestrogen levels that are egged on by copper and vice versa. Acne is often one of the biggest issues with teenage boys. This can be combatted with good doses of the mineral zinc, some liver herbs to help process hormones and occasionally the herb Vitex can be used as well to combat the huge surges in testosterone. One of my favourite herbs for teenage boys is Withania. It is a great male wellbeing tonic and adaptogen, meaning it can help their bodies cope with the stress of the changes.
So if, as a parent, you are pulling your hair out and struggling with the massive changes associated with puberty, know that there are many safe, effective options for you to try. All you need is the right support.
Oh, and it does get better!