Itching and irritation of the genital area is an extremely frustrating and painful symptom that most women tend to experience. A recent survey revealed that that 61% of women experience itching 17 times a year. Although vaginal itching and irritation is common among women, it can be an aggravating situation, particularly if the itching is severe or recurrent.
Though, there are several possible causes for vaginal itching, it is mainly caused by infections due to change in the normal balance of vaginal microbiome.
A study showed that about 75% of women experience vaginal infections at some point of their life, and up to 45% of those women will have repeated infections. Additionally, getting four or more vaginal infections a year is a sign that you might need a better treatment approach.
The key to successful treatment and prevention of such severe and recurrent vaginal itchiness is the identification of the underlying cause.
First, you need to understand what a vaginal itch is…
It is the inflammation of the vagina that can result in itching and pain. The itching comes with swelling, burning and sometimes milky discharge. The color, smell, and consistency of this discharge can vary, depending on the cause of the problem. The itching can generally range from mild to severe.
Some of the possible causes for itchiness of the vagina and the surrounding area are:
- Yeast infections
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Role of growth hormones and insulin in Puberty
There is accumulating evidence that during puberty, the production rate of growth hormone (GH) and insulin usually doubles and plays a role in pubertal growth surge. The rise in GH during puberty follows a close temporal relationship with the growth velocity. A significant percentage of the final adult height is attained during puberty.
Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) is another hormone that is involved in the proliferation and function of nearly every cell, tissue and organ in the human body. The rise in levels of GH will trigger the release of IGF, which will plays a key role in coordinating the timing of puberty onset.
Physical changes during puberty
Puberty can cause a lot of visible changes in your body.
Generally, there are five stages of puberty. Each stage reflects the progressive modifications that happen in the body during puberty. Initially, there will not be any noticeable physical changes. As the the brain starts to send signals to the body to prepare for changes, the ovaries will enlarge and hormone production begins. Usually the first sign of puberty in girls is the beginning of breast development, which is followed by development of other secondary sex characteristics.
Here is a brief overview of the changes that happen:
- Breast development: Breast development usually begins by the age of eight to 13 years. The formation of breast buds signifies the onset of puberty. A small amount of firm, often tender tissue under the nipple will become slightly raised and slowly form breasts. The areola (the circle of colored skin around the nipple) will also get larger at this time.
- Pubic hair: The second sign of puberty will be growth of hair in the pubic area. Initially, these hairs will appear sparse, light and straight; however, throughout the course of puberty they will become coarser, thicker and darker. It may spread to the thighs and sometimes up the stomach.
- Menarche: It is the first occurrence of menstrual period and marks the beginning of the fertile days. Most girls reach menarche around 12 to 13 years of age; however, it may occur earlier or later in some girls. Usually, menarche will occur about 2 to 3 years after the first appearance of breast buds. The onset of menarche is associated with a gradual increase in hormones like estrogen. Abdominal cramping or pain with periods is also common.
- Increase in height: Generally, girls have their growth spurt at a younger age than boys and it will be at a faster rate when breast buds start to develop. The growth rate will then reduce considerably, usually stopping between the ages of 14 and 16.
- Wider hips: With the onset of puberty, the female pelvis will expand and is influenced by hormonal changes in puberty. Widening of the pelvis is a part of sexual differentiation and to permit the passage of fetus during childbirth. Also, during puberty, percentage of body fat increases in girls and accumulates in the hips and thighs.
- Other changes:
- Increased sweat production
- Oily skin
- Growth of underarm hair
Puberty not only results in physical changes, it also causes big social changes, emotional changes and mood swings. As you are in the process of becoming an adult, you may feel inclined to figure out what makes you unique as a person. It’s common to feel confused, scared, angry and upset than usual. This maybe uncomfortable at times, you can seek help from your parents and dear ones.
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- National Research Council (US) and Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Adolescence; Kipke MD, editor. Adolescent Development and the Biology of Puberty: Summary of a Workshop on New Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1999. Adolescent Development and the Biology of Puberty.
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- Lacroix AE, Gondal H, Langaker MD. Physiology, Menarche. [Updated 2020 May 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.
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