Haven’t had your first period yet?
This post was written by Sarah Cox, a third year medical student at UTHSCSA who is studying to become an OBGYN.
“I haven’t had my first period and I am not sure if that is normal.”
Menarche is the term for the first period.
If you are 15 or older, and haven’t had your first period, it may be worth going to the doctor for a checkup. If you are over 13, haven’t had your first period, and also have not yet developed any puberty symptoms (such as developing breasts or pubic hair), it also might be worth it to touch base with your doctor.
It is normal to have puberty changes before menarche. Some common changes include:
- Breast development: often the earliest symptom of puberty; usually starts around ages 9-12, but it can be normal to start puberty before or after these ages. Breast development usually occurs 2-3 years before menarche.
- Pubic hair development and underarm hair development: Hair development can also be the first sign of puberty in many. On average, hair growth starts about 2 years before menarche.
- Sweating under the arms and body odor
- Height growth spurts
- Vaginal discharge: on average vaginal discharge starts 6-12 months before menarche, but it can start a few years before menarche. Discharge comes from the vagina, and period blood comes from the uterus, so the processes that lead to one don’t directly lead to the other. Normal vaginal discharge consists of 1 to 4 mL of fluid per day. This fluid is white or clear and has a mild odor (some people describe the smell as tangy or similar to sweat). Vaginal discharge can vary throughout the month.
Remember, these are just average timelines. Every body is different. But as always, if you have any questions or concerns then feel free to talk to your doctor.
Causes of Late Menarche:
There are many different causes for not having undergone menarche by age 15, all of which are diagnosed by a doctor after an exam and some tests. Common causes include late puberty, abnormal growth, variations in the uterus or vagina, problems in the brain or ovaries, a long term illness, or abnormal genes that babies can be born with.
- Late puberty can be familial, so ask your family members at what age they started their periods.
- Late menarche can be due to not taking in enough calories compared to the body’s needs (for example disordered eating, exercising too much, and/or not eating enough).
- Other things to take note of and share with your doctor are your height, severe acne, breast development, sudden changes in weight, history of severe illnesses, new blind spots in your vision, discharge coming from your nipples, and any drug use.
Have you started your period, but your not sure if what you are experiencing is normal? Keep reading!
If you are ready to start preparing for your first period, you can order our period kit for new menstruators!