It’s a rite of passage into womanhood. A blossoming. A monthly gift. It’s your period. Getting your period for the first time can be a strange or unexpected experience. But if you pay close attention to the period warning signs your body is giving you, you actually might be able to predict when your menstrual cycle will officially begin. So if you’re wondering, “When will I get my first period?” we have some answers for you.
We talked to Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MD, a practicing gynecologist at CareMount Medical in Westchester County, New York, and co-author of The Complete A to Z for your V. Dr. Dweck informed us that there are four key signs that will tell you when you’ll get your first period.
Dr. Dweck reminded us that menstruation begins during puberty, the body’s natural sexual maturation process. She stated that a girl can begin puberty anywhere between the ages of nine and sixteen, although puberty can start earlier or later for some depending on preexisting medical conditions, lifestyle, nutrition, or other causes.
Most girls will notice the below signs and bodily changes in the order that they’re listed, Dr. Dweck noted. But, if ever you have any questions about your changing body or your future menstruation cycle, always feel free to contact your doctor or set up an appointment with a gynecologist. Knowing what’s happening down there is incredibly important and never something to be embarrassed about.
So, without further ado, let’s figure out when we should roll out the welcome mat for our monthly visitor.
1Your breasts will start to grow a tiny bit.
Breast budding is “the beginning of breast development,” Dr. Dweck explained. Around age 9 or 10, girls will feel a small lump under one or both nipples. The breast tissue around these lumps may be tender, so it’s normal for your chest to feel sore while breasts are budding.
Also, as HealthyChildren.org states, you shouldn’t become alarmed if one breast begins growing larger than the other. This is completely normal and breasts will usually equal out in size as they continue to grow.
2Hair will start to grow…everywhere.
During puberty, your body begins producing more testosterone — and no, testosterone isn’t just for boys. In females, the testosterone influx during puberty results in hair growth under the arms and in the genital area. At first the hair will grow in fairly sparse, but will most likely turn darker coarser the more it fills in.
Keep in mind that pubic and underarm hair is not a bad thing to have and to keep around. If you aren’t comfortable with shaving, then don’t!
There are myths and stories as to why humans even have pubic hair — some say it protects the vagina, others say it’s actually there to keep your genitals warm. But science says the existence of pubic hair has to do mostly with releasing pheromones that may help to attract the opposite sex.
3Your hips will widen.
While influx of testosterone causes hair growth, an influx of estrogen during puberty changes girls’ bodies into women’s bodies. That means a girl’s hips grow wider in preparation to carry and deliver a child later down the line.
Genetics will affect your hip growth during this time as well. If your family carries genes for wider hips and an overall curvier appearance, then these genes will begin to peek through during puberty. Similarly, if the women in your family are more straight up-and-down, then your overall hip growth may be minimal.
4You’ll most likely get taller — noticeably so.
Dr. Dweck said that the last sign that a young woman will receive before menstruation begins is a growth spurt. A puberty-related growth spurt will usually take place between the ages of 10 and 14, according to KidsHealth.org. Then, after menstruation begins, girls will grow about one to two more inches before reaching their final adult height.
Plan ahead and buy longer-than-usual pants — your future self with thank you!
Getting your period for the first time is a much more seamless transition into adulthood than some make it out to be. Dr. Dweck told us that after your first period, your future periods may be irregular for a few cycles before you get into a flow, so to speak. But again, it all depends on your unique body.
Once you start seeing these signs, start carrying a light pad with you or practice using slender tampons. Womanhood is right around the corner!