How To Know If You Got Your Period – Puberty occurs in stages. As your hormones change, so does your body. In the years leading up to your first period, you’ll notice changes in your nipples, chest and pubic hair. Your body will be more like an adult and getting pregnant will be possible.
For most people, these changes are noticeable between the ages of 8 and 10, but they can happen earlier or later (1, 2). Menstruation occurs one to three years later (2 to 2.5 years for most people) (3, 4).
How To Know If You Got Your Period
Waiting for your first period can be stressful and it can be difficult to know exactly when your period will start. This first step to guessing when you will have your first period, is to ask your birth mother when it happened to her (if you can). Beyond that, your body can give you some signs that can help you make a good guess:
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Most people get their first period 2 to 2.5 years after their breasts start growing (3, 4). At first, small bumps on and around the nipples will rise. Then the darker area around the nipple starts to get bigger. The breast/nipple area then begins to swell; you may feel like there is a small lump in your chest for a while (5). These are called
At first it may only happen on one side, and the other side takes about 6 months to catch up (6).
Breast buds usually grow 2 to 2.5 years before your period starts, but if you notice your breast buds at an earlier age (when you’re 8 or 9), it may take closer to three years to start If your breasts develop later (like at age 13), it can sometimes take less than a year for your period to start (3, 4).
Your body shape and height will also change during this time, when you notice it
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Soon after your breasts begin to grow, you may notice the first signs of pubic hair. About 9 out of 10 people experience things in this order (8). Others see pubic hair first; either way is normal and healthy. You may only see a few long hairs at first; your pubic hair will fill in over time (6).
If you haven’t had any acne yet, you may have your first pimples around this time. For other people it happens later. You may also notice that your skin is generally oilier and that your sweat and armpits smell more (9). Acne is a normal part of puberty, so washing your face more or eating different foods probably won’t help. If your acne is severe or if you think the growth of hair on your body or face is unusual, talk to your doctor. They will help you know what is normal and if anything can help.
Armpit hair often doesn’t start growing until around or after your period starts, but it may be different for you (10, 11).
The shape and size of your body also change rapidly before your period begins. Menstruation usually starts about six months to a year after your fastest growth (after your “peak height velocity”). This is the average time, but it may be different for you. It can also happen two years before the first period, or at the same time as the first period. If you keep track of your height and notice that it changes quickly and then starts to decrease, your first period is likely underway (12-14).
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Along with changes in your height and weight, remember that it’s normal for your pant size to get bigger as your hips widen. Some parts of your body will become fatter and rounder, while others will stay the same.
The look and feel will also change. You can see the changes yourself using a small mirror. The outer labia of the vulva will become fatter, the inner labia will become larger and more wrinkled, and the clitoris will grow a little in size (6).
Sometimes, after your breasts start to grow, you may notice some fluid in your underwear. Your vagina may also feel a little wetter than before (15). Some people will notice it 6 to 12 months before their first period (16). The fluid is normal vaginal discharge. It will probably be a thin, whitish liquid and won’t smell much. This happens as your vagina develops a new community of healthy bacteria and becomes more acidic to protect your reproductive tract from bad bacteria (15).
As you approach your first period, you may also notice that your vaginal fluid changes from day to day. Even if you haven’t had your period yet, this is the start of your menstrual cycle. Your menstrual cycle is much more than your period. Your body’s hormones will rise and fall each cycle, as your body prepares to release an egg. Your vaginal fluid is one of the many things that change along with these hormones. Sometimes there will be more liquid, sometimes less. Sometimes it can look and feel creamy, like a moisturizer, or stretchy and transparent, like an egg white. It will be easier to notice these changes during the cycles
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Finally, it’s important to know the smell, feel, and normal changes in vaginal fluid. Pay attention to what’s in your underwear. Use clean fingers to feel and smell the fluid at the entrance to the vagina. Knowing what is normal for you will help you spot when something is “off” in the future.
Do not try to wash your vaginal discharge with soap – the discharge is normal! Your vagina is incredibly self-cleaning. It can remove the balance of bacteria in the vagina by “dousing” the vagina or washing the inner vulva with soap. This can make your vagina smell funny, itch, and become less healthy in general (17, 18).
The arrival of breasts, pubic hair, and your first period can feel empowering, intimidating, scary, exciting, or all of these things at the same time. Cultures throughout history have marked the arrival of a first period with a celebration or ceremony. If you or someone close to you is excited to start menstruating, why not find the time to celebrate?
This could mean meeting with family members to mark the occasion and share stories, meeting with friends to buy or make menstrual products, or writing a journal entry or letter to yourself. Talking to someone you trust about how you feel and what to expect can also be helpful.
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Some people may feel disconnected from their bodies, or may not know what a menstrual cycle is until they start having their period. Getting your period for the first time can be stressful or scary. At these times, it can be helpful to find someone you trust and to talk to, someone who understands and can offer help.
The American Congress of Ob/Gyn recommends that anyone who begins to see signs of puberty before the age of nine or who has not experienced any signs after age 15 should have a checkup with an OB/GYN.
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