Unusual Young Girl Problems

The next two questions were sent by parents who asked for medical information about their girls. I relayed these questions to a colleague, Dr. Roy Stringfellow, a gynecologist in private practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Question: I have a seven-year-old girl who just had her first period. Isn't this too early for her to be developing in that way?

Dr. Stringfellow: It is not normal for a seven-year-old girl to menstruate. The youngest person on record to have a baby was seven years old when she delivered. She proved to have a pituitary tumor that caused her premature puberty. Your little girl needs to be seen by a gynecologist, preferably a gynecologic endocrinologist. If she is markedly overweight or especially large for her age, that may account for the changes, but even then, seven years of age is too early. Have your child examined medically as soon as possible.

Question: My ten-year-old daughter has a noticeable feminine odor a lot of the time. She bathes regularly, but it seems that by midday, or maybe after playing outside, this odor is back. I am concerned that she will become the focus of other children's jokes and put-downs. My wife says she does not know what is causing the odor, other than it might be hormonal. My daughter is developing early. She is not overweight but is one of the largest girls in the children's ministry at church. I wondered if this early development is part of the issue. Can you offer any advice?

Dr. Stringfellow: Your daughter's condition is unusual and suggests several possible causes. She could have a vaginal infection, but that would be rare. Another possibility is a foreign object placed in the vagina. Young girls will sometimes notice there is an opening "down there" and experiment to see how deep it is and what will fit. Then something lodges inside, and the girl is ashamed to tell anyone. Eventually, an odor results. If it is noticeable to the mother and others around, an exam is indicated, especially if there is no vaginal bleeding to indicate early menarche (ten years is not too early for puberty). Even if your daughter has begun to develop, it would be unusual for her to have a persistent odor. There is no such thing as a "hormonal odor" per se, though hormonal changes with bleeding and a change in vaginal discharge can cause an odor. Still, proper hygiene should resolve any noticeable odor. She should be seen by a female gynecologist (a vaginal exam is embarrassing enough to a ten-year-old girl, even without it being a man doing the exam), preferably one specializing in adolescent gynecology.

Book: Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

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