I was seeing an adolescent for her annual physical exam and this was the first time that she had asked that her mother not be in the room. This is not uncommon at all and many girls prefer their moms to be in the room. Everyone is different!
At any rate, we were discussing puberty and I asked her if she had had her first menstrual period (which is called menarche). She replied that she had had her first period about 3 months prior. I then asked her if she had had a subsequent period and her eyes got really wide and her face had this surprised expression and she said, “what do you mean?” I almost wished that I had never asked her the question as I knew that I was about to “burst her bubble!”
I told her that it was not uncommon to skip several months after having your first period, and it was not unusual to have irregular periods for the first 1-2 years after menarche.
I explained that it took some time to have a regular monthly menstrual cycle. She just looked at me dumbfounded as if I had told her there was no Santa Claus! Her reply to me verbatim was, “WHAT, you have another period!! She really believed that this event was a one hit wonder and that you would never have another period again. I think somehow she had suppressed the knowledge that she would continue to menstruate for many more years. Forget ever discussing menopause with this teen any time soon.
The funniest thing was that I knew her mother fairly well, and felt certain that her mother had explained her pubertal changes, menarche and menses to her, probably more than once. She also attended a school that did a good job of discussing these issues as well.
So this was just affirmation to me as both a parent and a doctor. Kids are really no different than we adults are. They sometimes hear what they want to hear and forget the parts that are unpleasant or difficult to deal with. My husband tells me that I am often guilty of this.
This also reminded me that it does not hurt to discuss any topic with your adolescent more than once! Sometimes it takes several conversations to sink in and in my own experience as a parent, there are some subjects that need to be discussed over and over again. I am still laughing as is her mother. Not sure about her.
That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow.