"I Haven't Gotten My First Period,
"I Haven't Gotten My First Period, Yet"
Physical Signs That Precede First Menstruation
While each girls vary in the ages they are when periods and other
signs of puberty occur, the order and approximate time between them
is fairly consistent. The two things that are most closely tied to the age
when a girl starts her periods, that she can readily assess herself are:
first real bra and armpit hair. A "real" bra means one with a cup size
attached to it, as opposed to small, medium, large distinctions.
Armpit hair is self-explanatory. Any amount will do. At this point, a girl
will probably start her periods within 3-6 months, if she hasn't already.
It also occurs right after the growth spurt of adolescence. So, if a girl
grew, grew, grew, last year and has slowed down (no more than 2.5
inches a year) then periods are right around the corner.
Average Ages And Average Time Between Stages
Another way to estimate is to remember when it all started. The very
first sign is called breast budding. Budding simply means the nipple
elavates a bit. It does not mean the girl has development that
resembles a breast. This is later. To remember when this is, a girl
should think of when the very, very first time was that she noticed
anything different about her chest. In some girls, pubic hair is first, or
at least the first thing she remembers. It will take an average of 4 1/2
years from this point, with a range of 1 1/2 to 6 years).
Take this as the starting point. She will begin her growth spurt about
this time. She will notice pubic hair about 6 months later. About 6
months after that (a total of one year after budding) she will be in her
peak growth spurt, growing faster that she ever has. She will probably
get her first training bra at this time. About a year after all this (a total
of two years after budding), she will get a real bra and armpit hair.
First period will come about 4 months before or after these events.
The chart below gives the events and their ranges. The average age
for periods in the U.S. is 12.16 for black girls and 12.88 for whites. By
age 11, 28% of black girls and 13.5% of whites menstruate. By age
12, 62% of blacks, and 35% of whites.
When To Go To The Doctor
Some Medical Terms
A girl's first menstruation is called menarche. This is pronounced
MEN-arc or MEN-arc-y. When a girl passes certain milestones in her
development, but does not start having periods, this is called Primary
Amenorrhea. This is pronounced A-men-or-rea or Ah-men-or-rea. The
word primary is the part that means the girl has never had a period.
The amenorrhea part means lack (a is latin for none) or periods
(menorrhea is latin for "monthly flow"). This is to distinguish it from
Secondary Amenorrhea, which is when a woman has had periods
and then stops.
The Standards For Going To The Doctor
These standards were developed long ago. Meanwhile the
average age of puberty and menarche has dropped. So,
Estronaut's opinion is that checking with a doctor a year or so
earlier is not a bad idea. Also, girls of African descent mature
sooner than Europeans, by about a year. So, these girls should
substract another year. (We have not been able to find
averages for other races.)
On age alone: Age 15 1/2 to 16 1/2 for whites, age 14 1/2 to 15
1/2 for blacks.
If no breast or hair developmentAge 13 to 14 for whites, age 12
to 13 for blacks.
If there is breast development or hair (pubic or armpit)two
years after either of these started.