Menarche is the name given to the time when a girl has her first period.
When you start your period, you’ll notice a spot of blood on your underwear or when you use the bathroom. The flow of blood from your vagina is usually light at first and may get heavier for a few days before tapering off. The blood may be a brownish color at first and then turn brighter red. Your period will usually last 3 to 7 days each month.
The age at which menarche happens varies from person to person. Most girls experience the menarche between the ages of 10 and 14 years. This age has been dropping for several years, probably due to improved nutrition and better social conditions
It is uncommon for a regular menstrual cycle to follow the first period. Periods tend to occur in a haphazard way for the first year or 2 before settling into a regular pattern, which is usually once every 24 to 30 days.
Before their first period arrives, most girls will have shown the early signs of puberty — the beginnings of breast development and fine hair growth in the pubic region and axilla (armpit).
Talk early and often:
- The earlier you begin talking to your child about the changes to expect during puberty, the better.
- Your child needs to know the facts about the menstrual cycle and all the changes that puberty brings.
- Some girls experience their first period without knowing what it is, which can be a frightening experience. For this reason it is important for parents to prepare their daughters in advance for the changes associated with growing up.
- Talking to your child can help eliminate unfounded fears or anxiety, as well as positively influence your child’s body image. Also, the conversations you have with your child about menstruation can lay the groundwork for future talks about sexuality and other intimate issues..
Practical advice preferred:
Your child might want to know when it’s going to happen, what it’s going to feel like and what to do when the time comes.
What is menstruation? Menstruation means the body is physically capable of becoming pregnant.
When will it happen? No one can tell exactly when a first period will occur. Typically, however, menstruation begins about two years after breasts begin to develop.
How long does it last? The first few periods will likely be light — with only a few spots of blood occurring. Most periods last from three to five days, but anywhere from two to seven days is normal.
Does it hurt? Common symptoms include cramps in the lower abdomen or back or breast tenderness just before and during periods. Headaches, dizziness, nausea and diarrhea also are possible. Exercise, warm baths, a heating pad or an over-the-counter pain reliever can help ease discomfort.
What should I do? Explain how to use sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups and the importance of changing them regularly — every four to eight hours for pads and tampons and every eight to 12 hours for menstrual cups. Stock the bathroom with various types of sanitary products ahead of time. Encourage your child to experiment to find the product that works best.
Explain that pads, tampons and menstrual cups aren’t visible through clothing. Encourage your child to carry supplies in a backpack, purse or locker — just in case
Schedule a medical check-up if your child:
- Hasn’t started menstruating by age 15 or within three years of the start of breast growth — or breasts haven’t started to grow by age 13
- Goes three months without a period after beginning menstruation or suspects pregnancy
- Has periods that occur more frequently than every 21 days or less frequently than every 45 days
- Has periods that become irregular after having been regular
- Has periods that last more than seven days
- Has severe pain during periods
- Is bleeding between periods
- Is bleeding more heavily than usual or using more than one pad or tampon every one to two hours
- Suddenly gets a fever and feels sick after using a tampon