Menstruation (cont.)

When does a girl usually get her first period?

In the United States, the average age for a girl to get her first period is 12. This does not mean that all girls start at the same age. A girl can start her period anytime between the ages of 8 and 15. Most of the time, the first period starts about 2 years after breasts first start to develop. If a girl has not had her first period by age 15, or if it has been more than 2 to 3 years since breast growth started, she should see a doctor.

How long does a woman have periods?

Women usually have periods until menopause. Menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, usually around age 50. Menopause means that a woman is no longer ovulating (producing eggs) or having periods and can no longer get pregnant. Like menstruation, menopause can vary from woman to woman and these changes may occur over several years.

The time when your body begins its move into menopause is called the menopausal transition. This can last anywhere from 2 to 8 years. Some women have early menopause because of surgery or other treatment, illness, or other reasons. If you don't have a period for 90 days, you should see your doctor. He or she will check for pregnancy, early menopause, or other health problems that can cause periods to stop or become irregular.

When should I see a doctor about my period?

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See your doctor about your period if:

  • You have not started menstruating by the age of 15.
  • You have not started menstruating within 3 years after breast growth began, or if breasts haven't started to grow by age 13.
  • Your period suddenly stops for more than 90 days.
  • Your periods become very irregular after having had regular, monthly cycles.
  • Your period occurs more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days.
  • You are bleeding for more than 7 days.
  • You are bleeding more heavily than usual or using more than 1 pad or tampon every 1 to 2 hours.
  • You bleed between periods.
  • You have severe pain during your period.
  • You suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/2/2013

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Menstruation - Your Period Question: Describe your typical menstrual period.
Menstruation - Problems Question: Please describe the problems, both physical and mental, you experience with your period.
Menstruation - Age at First Period Question: How old were you when you started your period? Briefly, describe what that first experience was like.
Menstruation - When to See a Doctor Question: What motivated you to see a doctor about your period? Please discuss your experience.
Menstruation - Pads and Tampons Question: How often do you change your pad or tampon? Why do you prefer one over the other?

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