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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

If we have holes in our skin, why doesn't blood come out?

Laura Shellooe

Seattle, Washington

Dear Laura:

Good question! The holes you mention are not really holes, but tiny openings called pores. Pores start in the bottom layer of skin, called the dermis (DUR-miss). They are attached to sweat glands that send moisture up through the pores to the surface of the skin.

Our skin is a closed system. It acts as a shield, protecting the body from bacteria, fungus, and other invaders.

The blood also circulates in a closed system, a series of tubes called blood vessels. When the vessels are torn or broken, blood can leak out. If the skin on top is torn, you'll see blood on the surface. If the skin stays closed, the bleeding occurs underneath, and you'll see a bruise.

Unless there is an injury; there is no direct, open connection between the blood vessels and the pores.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I was reading in a girls' magazine about puberty. I read that girls start puberty as young as eight years of age. The article said that girls have something called their "period". What is a period, and when do you usually start it? Also, how do you know your period is coming if you have one? Do all girls get them?

Thanks!

Bri Johnson

Canal Fulton, Ohio

Dear Bri:

Boys and girls often have lots of questions about changes in their bodies during puberty (PYOO-ber-tee.) Usually, parents are good people to go to for answers, since they'll often know when and how members of your family tend to start puberty, which can vary a lot from person to person. Some girls do begin as early as eight. Others don't start until thirteen or even older.

Puberty is when the body begins to release special hormones, or chemicals, that start the process of changing a child into an adult. For example, puberty is when girls' ovaries begin to produce hormones controlling the release every month of a tiny egg. The egg travels to the uterus, where, if fertilized, it will grow. The walls of the uterus thicken in case this happens.

If it doesn't, the uterus walls lose their thickness, which escapes through the vagina in a flow of blood. The flow can seem heavy at first, which is perfectly normal, but then it decreases.

This flow is what is called having a period, and usually occurs about every twenty-eight days, a period of time called the menstrual (MENS-tru-al) cycle.

Except for rare conditions, almost all girls eventually have periods.

Beginnings

Menstrual periods usually begin about two years after the start of puberty, often just before the age of thirteen.

Girls can often tell when they are about to have menarche (meNAR-kee), the first menstrual period. Several months before, glands in the vagina make a clear or white, watery-to-thick liquid called physiologic leukorrhea (fis-ee-oh-LOJ-ik luke-oh-REE-uh). Some young women may have a cramping feeling before their period starts. Extreme pain is not normal, and should be evaluated by your doctor.

Once the menstruation cycle begins, periods will probably be irregular until the body adjusts to all the changes going on. It is a good idea to keep track of your menstrual cycle on the calendar in case any questions or concerns come up.

See you next issue!

Your friend, Cory SerVaas, M.D.

Send your health questions

To: "Ask Dr. Cory," Jack and Juill, P.O. Box 567, Indianapolis, IN 46206

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askdrcory@jackandijillmag.org this column does not replace Your doctor's advice.
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Title Annotation:skin pores, puberty, menstruation
Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Jack & Jill
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:595
Previous Article:... Wired ... The Usborne Internet-Linked Library of Science: Human Body, Usborne Publishing Ltd., London.
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