Menstrual Cycle Is Important Vital Sign in Young Females

Clinicians must educate and be educated about normal menstrual cycles

THURSDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The menstrual cycle can be an additional vital sign to help clinicians assess normal development and exclude certain pathological conditions in young female patients, according to a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that appears in the November issue of Pediatrics.

Jonathan D. Klein, M.D., chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence, and colleagues point out that the median age of menarche is 12.43 years and this has remained relatively constant over the past 30 years. Normal menstrual cycle interval is typically 21 to 45 days, menstrual flow lasts seven or fewer days and requires an average of three to six tampons or pads per day.

Clinicians should ask about the first day of a patient's last menstrual cycle at each visit and convey that the cycle spans from the first day of the period to the first day of the next period and may vary in length.

While it's important for doctors to educate young females and their parents about the menstrual cycle, "it is equally important for clinicians to have an understanding of bleeding patterns of young females, the ability to differentiate between normal and abnormal menstruation, and the skill to know how to evaluate the young female patient appropriately," the authors write.

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