When I was facilitating the late Dr John Lee’s talks in London, one question came up that quite surprised me. It was from a woman enquiring about her daughter’s development as she was concerned she was starting puberty very early.
This is something that has been noticed in the US, and now it seems that girls are also physically maturing earlier than ever before in Europe as well.
What causes early development?
A Danish study showed that the average age of breast development in young girls has gone down by a full year since 1990. This was a 15 year study and found that whereas in the early 90s, the average age was 10.88, at present it is occurring around 9.86 years of age.
Doctors often put this down to childhood obesity, and certainly diet plays a significant role because of what they are eating. A diet containing plenty of non-organic meat and dairy products can certainly give a young girl a dose of hormones and growth promoters that are present in those foods that she doesn’t need.
Young girls hormones are impacted by food and additional hormones coming in from what seems like a healthy option like soy milk. Unfortunately though soy milk can be a useful addition to a mature woman’s diet, the levels of phytoestrogen that are present in it are not helpful to young girls.
Development of the breast that occurs at puberty is dependent on oestrogen, but that needs to come from the girls own body. Putting in additional dietary sources can seriously affect her hormone balance.
Problems of early puberty
Early puberty brings with it additional problems, the most serious of which is the high incidence of breast cancer associated with the early onset of physical maturity.
We know that oestrogen is implicated in breast cancer, so it makes sense to not to provide a diet that would artificially increase the amounts of this hormone in the body.
Young women can suffer from a variety of hormone related conditions from PMS to PCOS and anovulatory periods where no progesterone is produced. Supplementing with bioidentical natural progesterone can help rebalance their cycle and deal with symptoms such as pain, bloating and food cravings.
Like many hormonal conditions it is made worse by stress, which tends to reduce progesterone levels and create further imbalance.
What can help?
Diet is important, particularly having enough fibre, as when your body has finished using oestrogen it is dumped, via the liver, into the intestines to be excreted. Here fibre plays an important role in binding the oestrogen and holding it for elimination. A lack of fibre therefore can cause oestrogen to be reabsorbed and recycled backing the body.
It can also be associated with adrenal fatigue and low thyroid levels so these need to be checked so they can be eliminated as a cause.
PMS and PCOS are certainly helped by supplemental bioidentical progesterone as it restores hormones to normal balance.
It is clear that low progesterone levels are behind many of the problems associated with early puberty and menstrual irregularities so checking hormone balance is essential.