The first time a girl gets her period is a time full of apprehension, confusion, and questions. This article provides information regarding the same.
‘Am I going to die mommy?’ A simple, but stressful question asked by a 10-year-old girl to her mommy. This question was asked after the little girl noticed blood stains in her underpants. She was troubled by stomach cramps, leg cramps, and back pain. No wonder, the child was worried that it may indicate an impending death. However, the first time a girl gets her period is a time for celebration for many mothers. It indicates her budding daughter is now blossoming into a young woman. In today’s fast age, these budding daughter’s tend to learn a lot about first menstrual periods from friends, media, teachers, and even the internet. However, parents are still nervous about this coming of age process, and want to prepare themselves for any questions raised by their young daughter.
Average Age of First Menstruation
The first menstrual cycle is called menarche. The age at which a girl may experience menarche depends on many factors. These factors include the region where the girl lives, cultural factors, genetic disposition, level of nourishment, and individual biological clock, to name a few. One cannot predict exactly when will a girl experience her first menstruation. Most of the time, girls get their first period sometime near their puberty.
Puberty is that point of life when a child or adolescent becomes mature, and the body is getting ready for reproduction. Girls experience menarche and then on carry on with the menstruation cycle till they reach the age of menopause. It leads to many hormonal changes that cause physical development of a girl’s body. The hormones called ‘estrogen’ and ‘progesterone’ play an important role in the initiation of periods. As the level of these hormones rise in the body of an 8 to 9 year old girl, physical changes begin to appear. You may notice your daughter growing underarm and pubic hair. Gradually, there will be breast development in girls, and the hip region begins to widen. A few girls may face the common teenage agony of acne. Within two years of noticing these signs, a girl may experience her first menstrual bleeding. In North America, the average age of menarche is about 12 to 13 years. However, this age can be as low as 9 years, and in some cases, a girl may experience menarche at the age of 16 years.
Today, more and more cases of early menarche are observed. Young girls as old as 8 years are experiencing their first periods. These early menstrual periods are called premature menarche. In some cases, external factors, stress, hormonal imbalances, genes, etc., may cause periods to appear as late as 16 years. These late appearing periods are called amenorrhea. Those girls who do not experience menarche by the age of 15 or 16 years should seek gynecological help. This will help determine the underlying factor and take corrective action.
In most cases, menstrual bleeding itself is the first sign of menarche. The other signs include discomfort in the stomach region, bloating, fatigue, and mood swings. The girl may become irritable and may even appear gloomy. If you notice physical changes in your daughter followed by these signs, it would be wise to begin speaking about menstruation with her. You need to explain that it is all right if she spots a red or brownish stain on her underpants. Explain the child that menstruation is a sign of fertility. It indicates that she is maturing and transforming from a girl to a woman.
There are plenty of symptoms that may be experienced by a girl. One may experience light or heavy menstrual bleeding. Other symptoms include headache, backache, and even leg pain. Stomach cramps are a common symptom of menarche. These abdominal cramps may last for a first few days of the menstrual cycle. The first period may cause a lot of discomfort. However, do not feel scared or become worried. It is very normal to experience pain as the uterus contracts during periods. The symptoms are different for each and every individual. For example, one may experience low-intensity cramps, whereas the other may experience severe cramps.
Many girls experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This syndrome is a set of symptoms experienced by women before the start of their periods. Once a girl starts getting her periods, she will experience PMS every month. These symptoms indicate the start of the menstrual cycle. One may experience bloating, fatigue, headaches, pimples, menstrual cramps, etc. These PMS symptoms may be different for each girl, and they help a girl get ready for her monthly periods.
It may be very scary for some young minds. Therefore, mothers should speak about the process and comfort their daughters. When you observe the signs of menarche in your daughter, you should start discussing with her about maturity. Teach her what she should expect whenever her periods begin. You should talk to her about the use of sanitary pads and tampons. It is important that you give your daughter a small sanitary pad to keep it in her bag. This will come in handy, in case she starts her menarche in school. This is the right time to explain to her the general hygiene tips that she should maintain while menstruating. Also, it the best time to speak to your daughter about the subject of ‘the birds and the bees’, that is, sex.
You may find that your daughter is trying to break free and become more independent as she matures. This is a normal part of growing. However independent she looks, your daughter needs your support and care.
Disclaimer: This AptParenting article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.