Menarche (First Menstrual Period) Information, FAQ

Most people consider the first menstrual period to be the start of puberty although it technically starts earlier. It is usually an exciting time in a girl’s life although it can present with some unpleasant symptoms at times. It can also be a scary experience for young girls who are uncertain of what is happening in their body despite knowing the facts about puberty and menstruation. The first menstrual period is a highly personal experience for each young girl and there is usually never a need to be worried or panic.

What age is the first menstrual period?

The first menstrual period usually starts somewhere between the ages of 11 and 14 years. It is not unusual for it to occur as early as 9 years of age and as late as 15 years. This age range is considered normal. However, if you are 15 years ol and there is no sign of your first period coming then you should speak to a doctor. When the periods do not start by the age of 16 years, it is considered to be a condition known as primary amenorrhea. There are many possible causes of primary amenorrhea – most are not serious but a few are and needs medical treatment.

What are the symptoms before the first period?

The symptoms that indicate that you have entered puberty occurs months or even years before your first period. It is signaled by the formation of breasts and growth of hair (pubic and underarm). It is a result of the change in hormones in the body and this is a completely normal transition for young girls.

Before your first period appears, you may notice breast tenderness, abdominal cramps, nausea, bloating, back pain and fatigue. Some girls may even experience diarrhea. These symptoms may then continue through menstruation and slowly subside a short while after the bleeding stops. However, it is possible that some girls may experience almost no symptoms before and during the first menstrual period a[art from the bleeding.

How long and heavy is the first period?

The bleeding may start off light, become heavy and then lighten again until it stops. The entire process may run over 3 to 7 days. There is no hard and fast rule about how light or heavy the first period will be. There can be some degree of variation and this should not be a cause for concern. However, if the period persists for more than 7 days then it is advisable to speak to a caregiver or the school nurse. You may need to see a doctor if there are no signs of the vaginal bleeding abating.

What should you do for the first period?

You should prepare by carrying sanitary pads or tampons with you. It can be used once there is the first signs of bleeding and you will need to change it regularly. Other than this there is nothing else that you will need to do. Bed rest and plenty of fluids can help you cope with some of the symptoms. Simple measures like a hot water bottle or heat pad on the abdomen can help ease cramps. If necessary, you may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain relief.

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