First Menstrual Period Overview

For most girls, breast development and pubic hair are typically the first indicators that they are beginning their journey into puberty. Their first menstrual period, also called a menarche, is the sign that they are officially there. In the early 1900s, most girls were likely to start menstruating around the age of 15. Today, the average age is 12 and for some, it is even earlier.  Many factors will influence when a girl first begins to menstruate including genetics, weight and lifestyle. For example, while a girl who is overweight might experience her first menstrual period earlier than normal, one who partakes in excessive exercise or sports (such as a gymnast) might have a delay in hers. It is very common for a girl to begin developing breasts and pubic hair prior to her menarche.  If a girl has not had her first menses by the time she is 16, it is recommended she visit a gynecologist for an evaluation.

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