Abnormalities of Menstruation.—The normal period should occur at regular intervals about once a month. Its duration and amount vary within wide limits, but in each girl it should remain true to her individual type, and it ought not to be accompanied by pain or distress. As a rule the period starts quite normally, and it is not until the girl’s health has been spoiled by over-exertion of body or mind, by unwise exertion during the period, or by continued exposure to damp or cold, that it becomes painful and abnormal in time or in amount.
One of the earliest signs of approaching illness—such as consumption, anaemia, and mental disorder—is to be found in the more or less sudden cessation of the period. This should always be taken as a danger-signal, and as indicating the need of special medical advice.
Another point that should enter into intimate talk with girls is to make them understand the co-relation of their own functions to the great destiny that is in store. A girl is apt to be both shocked and humiliated when she first hears of menstruation and its phenomena. Should this function commence before she is told about it, she will necessarily look upon it with disgust and perhaps with fear. It is indeed a most alarming incident in the case of a girl who knows nothing about it, but if, before the advent of menstruation, it be explained to her that it is a sign of changes within her body that will gradually, after the lapse of some years, fit her also to take her place amongst the mothers of the land, her shame and fear will be converted into modest gladness, and she will readily understand why she is under certain restrictions, and has at times to give up work or pleasure in order that her development may be without pain, healthy, and complete.
Mental and moral training.
The years of adolescence, during which rapid growth and development inevitably cause so much stress and frequently give rise to danger, are the very years in which the weight of school education necessarily falls most heavily. The children of the poor leave school at fourteen years of age, just the time when the children of the wealthier classes are beginning to understand the necessity of education and to work with a clearer realisation of the value and aim of lessons. The whole system of education has altered of late years, and school work is now conducted far more intelligently and with a greater appreciation of the needs and capacities of the pupils than it was some fifty years ago. Work is made more interesting, the relation of different studies to each other is more adequately put in evidence, and the influence that school studies have on success in after life is more fully realised by all concerned. The system of training is, however, far from perfect. In the case of girls, more particularly, great care has to be exercised not to attempt to teach too much, and