Updated: Oct 12, 2021
What exactly is a vital sign? Do you remember going to the doctor and being asked to obtain your blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature and respiration rate? These are four clinical measurements collected at every medical amount.
Periods are a normal part of a healthy female development.
Anything that disrupts a woman’s menstrual cycle is setting the stage for possible development of blood sugar issues, vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, and certain cancers like breast and uterine cancer.
Many times adolescent girls and women
may not be asked
the first day of your last menstrual cycle at a medical appointment. This frequently missed question, critical “5th vital sign” (menstruation), is a failed opportunity to offer a review and discussion at the appointment. Currenlty this "5th vital sign" assessment is also not required but encouraged to be collected along with the former required (temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure) – which may be linked to why it is often missed.
Believe it or not - late or early menarche or having irregular periods indicates a health issue that MUST be further explored.
Early assessment of menstrual irregularities can prevent the advancement of disease/disorders in women. More preventive strategies need to done behind the scenes where caretakers/parents, and health care providers are eagerly working on behalf of the adolescent through education.
Menstruation is abnormal If:
Have not started first period by age 15
More than 3 months without a period
Periods occur less than every 21 days
Periods occur after more than every 45 days
Heavy periods – change of menstrual products every 1-2 hours, especially if longer than 7 days.
Painful periods – causes you to miss school/work or other daily functions.
In adolescents/adults abnormal bleeding may be typically due to:
Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Sexual Trauma, Sexual Transmitted Infection (STI),
Hormonal issues like PCOS, Fibriods, & Thyroid Disease, Mental Stress, and Eating Disorders.
So what does a normal period look like?
At age 7-8 pubic hair may develop and 2-3 years after breast development menarche (first period) typically starts. Adolescents should be educated by their caregivers/parents in collaboration with their healthcare provider on what to expect in terms of a normal duration, cycle and flow. According to American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), a normal period is a duration or flow of 2 - 7 days within a cycle of 21- 45 calendar days. A cycle starts from the first day of the period to the first day of the next period. In addition, normal periods mean that menstrual products may be changed up-to 3-6 times per day.