Is My Daughter’s Period Normal?
The time of your daughter’s first period can be a time of excitement and anxiety. The average age of the first period is 12 ½ years. Before periods occur, there are other signs of puberty to indicate that a young girl’s body is changing. Usually breast development happens 2 years before the first period. Other signs include under arm hair, pubic hair and body odor presence. It is common for girls to have irregular cycles when they first begin. This irregularity usually works itself out within 3 years. Cycles that are regular from the very beginning should stay regular. Whenever cycles start, it is helpful to write things down on a calendar to determine how often they are taking place and how long they last. For most girls, periods occur every 21-45 days in the first year, 21-34 days by the third year and last less than 7 days in length. If cycles are persistently irregular, have been regular in the past and now are irregular, or last longer than 7 days, an evaluation is recommended. Additionally, some girls experience cramps, headaches or mood swings with their cycles. This is very common and many of these symptoms may be managed easily from use of over the counter pain relievers, heating pads, getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly and eating healthy during and between periods. For girls experiencing additional difficulties that cannot be managed with simple lifestyle changes or may be missing school due to severe symptoms, an evaluation is recommended. For more information about periods, please read Menstruation in Girls and Adolescents: Using the Menstrual Cycle as a Vital Signs from the American Academy of Pediatrics.