Question: Mary (14) asks…
I am 14 yrs. old, and I still haven’t had my first period! I have underarm and pubic hair, a whitish vaginal discharge, and I have breasts–but I haven’t had a period. Is there something wrong with me?

Answer: The beginning of menstruation (called “menarche”) is likely to occur, on average, around 13 or 14. Of course, it isn’t abnormal for menarche to begin at 16+ either. This typically happens when your pubic hair begins to form its characteristic triangular shape as in adulthood. Now, starting menarche doesn’t necessarily mean a start of ovulation (egg cells released) — ovulation may occur later, perhaps a year later. Normal menstrual cycles occur when ovulation begins, which is normally between 12 and 19 years of age, with the “average” around 15. I wouldn’t worry about it yet. And once you do get your first period, remember that it’s quite common for menstrual cycles to be irregular at first — sometimes months between them. Most girls have regular cycles by their 18th birthday or when they have been menstruating for several years. Give it some more time, but if you’re really worried, see a gynocoligist to assure that nothing is wrong.

Remember this for everything: “average” means typical, but not necessary. “Average” is the center point of “normal” — and straying from it isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

Question: Kate (12-14) asks…
How can you tell when a girl will begin to menstruate for the first time? Are there any signs?

Answer: Menarch (the beginning of menstruation) usually happens in “Stage 4″ of puberty, but can happen late in Stage 3 as well. While there are no real “signs” of an impending first period, there are signs that may let you know when it is likely to happen.

Credit: J. Geoff Malta, MA, EdM, NCC Adolescent Therapist