For Girls Only! Puberty and Periods: FAQs

What is the normal time to start puberty?

As a developing young woman, your body will go through many changes that can occur at different times and rates among individuals. The average age for the beginning of pubertal development is 9-10 years old, with the onset of the menstrual cycle occurring 2-2 ½ years after that, around age 12. The age range stretches from 8 to 14 for the first signs of puberty, so if you are outside that range, we recommend you schedule an appointment for evaluation. These things can be important in bone health, height potential, and overall hormonal balance.

My periods are not regular at all! Is that OK?

It’s important to know that many girls are irregular for the first 1-2 years after their cycle starts. Periods may occur as often as 21 days or as infrequent as every 2-3 months. If your cycles frequently occur more often than this (every 1-2 weeks) or less often (every 4-5 months), this would be another reason to contact us for an evaluation and possible treatment.

I’ve been having my periods for a few years and now I’m starting to get cramps!

While some girls have cramps from their first cycle, it is very common for many girls to start experiencing more cramps as they get older, since true ovulatory cycles are more firmly established by then. Most OTC relief including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or combos like Midol and Pamprin are safe and effective. It is important to recognize and treat severe cramps at the onset in order to be able to continue your usual routine and lifestyle. If the OTC meds are not strong enough and you have to miss school or events, please call us to discuss prescription options. It’s important to get rest and eat healthy during your cycle. Do not worry if you feel bloated or even gain a few pounds of water weight. This is normal and goes away afterwards.

Is PMS real?

It certainly feels like it to me, but the guys in my life don’t seem to understand! It is real and they don’t understand because they do not deal with the fluctuating female hormones estrogen and progesterone like you do! These hormones can actually affect the serotonin levels in the brain. These hormones can make women feel moody, irritable, anxious, bloated, tired, and sad. It affects up to 75% of women to some degree and can be severe in 3-8%, a condition referred to as PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). What to do? Realizing the problem and the pattern is the first step! Attempt to minimize extra stress during this time and make sure to give yourself room in your schedule to exercise and get good rest. Both of these can help. Vitamin B6 has been shown to be of some benefit, up to 100mg/day. Other supplements have not been shown effective. Most importantly, if your symptoms are severe, especially anxiety or depression, you need to be seen to consider prescription medication for PMDD. Always consider any suicidal thoughts an emergency and seek medical attention immediately.

Why do I have discharge some days?

Women’s bodies make discharge as a natural function in response to their hormones (progesterone). Some women have it more than others, but a small panty-liner should be enough to take care of it. If it is thick white and accompanied with significant itching, consider the OTC treatments for yeast infections. If you are sexually active and it is discolored, please make an appointment to check for possible infections.