When Will I Get My First Period?

No one can know precisely when they will get their first period, but it will come sometime during puberty. For some girls, puberty starts at age 8, but for other girls, this can happen as late as 16. Everyone’s different!

While you won’t predict when your first period will come specifically, there are certainly some signs that it’s on its way. Once puberty starts, your body goes through some changes as you begin to develop into an adult. You may notice that your breasts are growing, and there is hair growing in your pubic area. This hair will also grow under your arms. If you keep track of changes during puberty, you may get a better estimate of when your period is coming.

Signs Your First Period Is on Its Way

Many girls get their first period about two years after they first start developing breasts or breast bud development. The first part of this process you might notice is changes to your nipples. Close to the start of puberty, you may realize small bumps around your nipples have risen. Later on, the darker part of your nipples will grow and stick out. These lump-like areas are called breast buds. They may grow on both sides at once or start on just one side. It’s normal for them to be uneven for a while. It may be six months until the smaller side catches up.

Another indicator of puberty is changes in your body shape. You may grow taller and gain some weight as your hips widen, your breasts grow, and you develop a more “curvy” adult figure.

If you feel comfortable asking your mother or older sister when they first got their period, that will also help you narrow down when it might come, as this process is partially genetic.

A significant indicator that your period is near is if you notice any fluid coming from your vagina. This is called discharge, and it may be thin or thick or a clear to white color. It’s a natural part of being a woman and no cause for concern. It’s part of your menstrual cycle, which includes your period but also a whole lot more. Typically, this can happen around six months before your first period.

Before your period, usually about a week or two earlier, you may start to feel PMS symptoms: premenstrual syndrome. The majority of women, at least 75%, report feeling premenstrual syndrome. PMS can make you more emotional or cause bloating, a feeling of fullness in your stomach, or headaches. These are many different combinations of symptoms women experience right before their period, but for the most part, it’s not serious. Your PMS will likely vary from your friends and change monthly until you become older and your cycle is more predictable.

If you sense that your cycle is coming, you might worry about whether you have to do anything to get ready.

If your period might be coming soon – make a first-period kit!

If you’re starting to see these signs, you may want to prepare a first-period kit for your first period to ease your mind. Keep a pad and extra underwear in your backpack in case it comes during school. You may also want to download a period tracking app like Flow or learn how to use the calendar app on your phone to log the days you get your period. Since your period tends to come simultaneously each month, it’s helpful to know when you got it last. However, keep in mind that it’s normal to have an unpredictable period at first, and it may take years after your first period for it to become regular.

While your friends may be excited about the new experience, and you may feel like you’re missing out if you haven’t gotten yours yet, it isn’t a race. Even if it comes late, you will still have plenty of your periods in your life. Having a period isn’t always comfortable, and you may not always look forward to it. Being a little slower to have your period just means less time spent worrying about PMS or whether you have pads nearby.

Although some can’t wait to get their first period, for others, it produces anxiety. Maybe your friends told you about some of the less comfortable parts of your cycle, such as cramping, and you’re concerned.

What are period cramps?

Period cramps are caused by contractions in the uterus, the muscular organ involved in menstruation. It can cause pain in the abdomen or back, and this pain usually decreases in the first few days of your period. These cramps may feel sharp or more like a stomachache. Cramps are very common and not a sign that something is off. Some people don’t experience cramping, but other physical symptoms like headaches. While I won’t pretend cramps are anywhere near a pleasant experience, typically, they are easily managed with pain medication.

No matter how you’re feeling about your period, you’re not alone. Whether you’re scared or ready to welcome your cycle, chances are other girls feel the same way. It’s not a bad idea to talk to a trusted adult about their experience of a period and ask them any remaining questions you have.

If you don’t get your period by age 16, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

Otherwise, just wait it out. There’s nothing you can do to make it come sooner or later. It’s not easy to be the first or last in your class to go through these changes, but in just a few years, all the girls will be sharing the experience. When you’re older, you may not even remember your period or how old you were when you got it. Watching your body change can undoubtedly be exciting, but over time, your cycle itself will be less of a big deal, and your period worries will be a thing of the past!

To Health! 

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Dr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dr. Dina Kulik completed her Pediatrics Residency and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Dina is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information through television, radio, print media, and via her blog DrDina.ca. Above all, Dina’s greatest joy is her family, and being the mom of four crazy boys.

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