The Challenges of Growing into Womanhood with Turner Syndrome

womanhood

Introduction to Womanhood

As young girls transition into womanhood, they embark on a journey filled with numerous physical, emotional, and mental challenges. While every individual’s experience is unique, the complexities of growing into womanhood are further complicated when a girl has Turner syndrome. We will discuss all of these changes along with the additional challenges TS brings. 

Details for a donation giveaway at the end as well!

Physical Changes

The onset of puberty is driven by hormonal shifts that set off a series of physical changes. Some changes include the development of breasts, the onset of menstruation, increases in height, and the growth of armpit and pubic hair (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). 

Hormone Replacement Therapies

For women with Turner syndrome, their stature may remain short, with a below-average growth rate, and they may experience delayed or missed puberty (Gonzalez & Witchel, 2012). Girls with TS may need estrogen and progesterone treatment (HRT) to initiate puberty. HRT allows for breast development, uterine growth, and promotes bone health (Gonzalez & Witchel, 2012).

Tanner Stages of Puberty
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Menstruation

Menstruation plays a crucial role in the physiological maturation of females, marking the start of the reproductive phase. This cyclical process, governed by hormonal fluctuations, involves the shedding of the uterine lining in the absence of fertilization, typically occurring monthly (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). 

Addressing common concerns for girls, such as menstrual hygiene, menstrual irregularities, and the management of menstrual-related symptoms, is essential in providing healthcare support as they transition into womanhood. 

An open dialogue around menstruation is especially important. Delayed puberty and the absence of menstruation can lead to TS diagnosis for many girls (Edens Hurst, 2021).

For most women with Turner syndrome, the menstrual cycle is therapeutically induced and sustained with HRT (Gonzalez & Witchel, 2012). Additionally, growth hormone in girls with Turner syndrome has been shown to improve self-perception (Hong et al., 2011).

Social Struggles

This time can be socially difficult for girls in forming friends, family dynamics, romantic relationships, and societal expectations. Along with this, research suggests girls with Turner syndrome may experience difficulties in social competence (Hong et al., 2011).

When girls with Turner syndrome struggle to have successful social interactions, they may experience a decline in self-esteem and self-concept (Hong et al.,2011). Adolescence is a time where building social skills and gaining self-esteem is crucial. 

Therefore, it’s important to be present with the one you love who has Turner syndrome and notice if they’re struggling socially so you can get them the resources they need.

Emotional Changes

Many girls may feel insecure and doubtful while navigating the body changes and social challenges that come with puberty. Mood swings caused by fluctuations in hormones may make managing emotions difficult for many girls. 

Girls with Turner syndrome face the same challenges as their peers, with the additional stress of feeling self-conscious about delayed puberty, social difficulties, and potentially lacking friends, which can lead to mental health issues (Björlin et al., 2021).

Mental Struggles

The minds of teenage girls can be filled with uncertainties and identity struggles as they deal with issues of self-worth, purpose, and fitting in. The pressure to do well in school and find their own path can be daunting, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. 

Some evidence suggests that girls with Turner syndrome may have higher rates of ADHD and social anxiety (Hong et al., 2011). Building a supportive network of mentors and friends who help destigmatize conversations around mental health and promote self-care practices is crucial for helping girls navigate the mental challenges they face on their journey into womanhood.

Conclusion

The journey into womanhood involves various challenges, including physical, emotional, and mental ones. Recognizing the complexities of this transition, especially for girls with Turner syndrome, requires us to encourage open conversations, provide accurate information, and offer support. This approach can help empower young girls to face the journey into womanhood with confidence and resilience.

In support of Women’s Health Awareness Month, The Period Company has generously donated 1000 pairs of period underwear to the Turner Syndrome Foundation. Period products can be expensive, and this donation not only aids women but also benefits the environment.

If you are interested in supporting the Turner Syndrome Foundation, we are asking for a minimum $10 donation for a pair of sustainable underwear. Please specify your size along with your donation.
Thank you for your support in helping women with Turner syndrome.

References: 

Björlin Avdic H, Butwicka A, Nordenström A, Almqvist C, Nordenskjöld A, Engberg H, Frisén L. Neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders in females with Turner syndrome: a population-based study. J Neurodev Disord. 2021 Oct 27;13(1):51. doi: 10.1186/s11689-021-09399-6. PMID: 34706642; PMCID: PMC8554886.

Cleveland Clinic . (2022, September 22). Menarche (first period): Overview, age & what to expect. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24139-menarche 

Edens Hurst, A. C. (2021, January 11). Turner Syndrome. Pennmedicine.org. https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/turner-syndrome 

Gonzalez, L., & Witchel, S. F. (2012a). The Patient with Turner Syndrome: Puberty and Medical Management Concerns. Fertility and Sterility, 98(4), 780–786. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.07.1104

Hong, D. S., Dunkin, B., & Reiss, A. L. (2011). Psychosocial functioning and social cognitive processing in girls with Turner syndrome. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 512–520. https://doi.org/10.1097/dbp.0b013e3182255301

Written by Victoria Brown, TSF volunteer blog writer. Edited by Riya Ajmera, TSF Blog Coordinator. Designed by Laura Fasciano and Riya Ajmera

© Turner Syndrome Foundation, 2024

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