Menstruation In Adolescent Girls
When do menstrual periods begin in girls?
Menstruation usually begins around age 11, but it may happen as early as age 8, or as late as age 16. The beginning of menstruation is called "Menarche".
Menstruation is the discharge of blood and tissue from the lining of the uterus each month. Menstruations (or menstrual periods) are part of the "female reproductive cycle". A typical menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 30 days, but can vary from 22 to 35 days.
How do menstruations start?
Several months before the first period, fluid or discharge may be secreted by the vagina. This substance may be clear or white in color, and watery to thick in consistency. This is called , physiologic leukorrhea and it is normal. The very first period is usually very mild; only a few drops of blood. In some girls, menstrual periods occur monthly(regularly) from the beginning. While in others, periods may not be regular; for example, some girls either miss a period or have two periods in one month. During the first year of menstruation this varied, or irregular pattern is usually normal as it takes a while for the body to establish a regular menstrual pattern(cycle).
Keeping track of periods
When menstruations begin it is a good idea to keep track of the cycles with a calendar. This will help a girl know when her next period will start.
What other symptoms accompany menstruation?
Cramps in the lower abdomen(dysmenorrhea) are usually normal. If the pain differs or is more severe than usual, medical attention should be sought.
Other symptoms include:
- Tender breasts
- Feeling tired
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
What can help relieve menstrual cramps?
- Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen as needed
- Avoidance of sweets, salt and caffeine
Menstruation: When to worry
Medical attention should be sought if:
- Periods are heavier than usual or
- Last longer than a week,
- Menstruation differs from the usual pattern, or
- A period is skipped(once a regular pattern has been established)
What to tell pre-teen girls about menarche
It is important to warn pre-teen girls about menarche before periods begin so that they will not be surprised or afraid when it occurs. Mothers should also take the time to explain why menstruation occurs, and discuss other feminine hygienic issues including the use of tampons/pads. This is also a good time to bring up the importance of abstinence, contraception and safe sex.