What happens to the female brain at onset of puberty?
The female brain is complex, especially when it comes to the many phases of menstruation over the years. In this Ask the Experts video, Louann Brizendine, MD describes initial signs of puberty and how PMS develops gradually thanks to hormone changes.
The brain goes into puberty about 18 months before the body.
So if you look at a little girl at age say 8 or 9 and there's no there's no indication that she
has what we call breast buds or any of that kind, and once she gets the little breast buds, that means that the ovaries have started to make estrogen. The brain is also responding and controlling
that cycle. So the brain is being influenced even before the onset of the period at age 12.
After that, between ages 12 and 14 or 15, the ovaries are not ovulating every single month.
There's a lot of cycles that don't have ovulation. Some of them do but lots of them don't. So you can't get PMS unless you have progesterone.
So if you're not ovulating, you don't get any progesterone. So that's what happens at the end of the cycle starting 17, 16, 17, 18 years old on a more regular fashion.
And that's when you can get that big drop in progesterone a day or two before onset of blood flow, which
we call menstruation. That can cause irritability in the brain.