THE FIRST TIME
When will I start?
Who knows? It is perfectly normal to have your first period anywherebetween the ages of 9 and 16, but 12 is probably the most average age tostart. If you are past 16 and still waiting, your doctor will probablyput you on hormones, which will sort of kick start your system.
There really isn't any way to tell you are about to start. The truthis that is different for every girl. You might have heard that you cantell by how the size of your breasts. While it is common for girls to starttheir periods a year or two after their breasts first start to grow, itis not true for everyone.
We don't know for sure how your body decides that it is time to startmenstruating. People who research this kind of thing have two basic ideas,both are about your body's size.
One is that you will start your period when your skeleton reaches itsmature form, when your bones are about as big as they are going to get.As you know, you grow very fast, faster than boys do, from about 11 on.When this growth spurt is over, your period starts. P.T. Ellison, the personwho came up with this idea, thinks this is your body's way of making surethat you can't have a baby before you pelvic (hip) bones are big enoughfor a baby to pass through.
Dr. Rose E. Frisch came up with the second theory, and this one is mostpopular. It is about your body weight rather than your bone size. She believesthat your body has to get to a certain weight, and that 1/4 of that weighthas to be made up of fat, before menstruation begins. A woman's body hasmore fat than a girl's body, or a man's body. Fat is the body's way ofstoring up calories for hard times., and it is important for women to havea little extra fat for child bearing, because carrying a baby takes a lotenergy. When you have enough fat to support yourself through a pregnancy,your body gives the go ahead to start your period.
We know for sure that women who lose a lot of their body fat thoughathletic training, especially if they started the training when they wereyoung, may start late, or menstruate infrequently. Also, women who losemost of their body fat through starvation, like women with anorexia, stopmenstruating. Girls who are under- nourished as they grow up also starttheir periods later on average than girls who are well fed. Girls in theUS are getting their periods earlier and earlier, and they also have morebody fat than girls of previous generations. This all shows that thereis some connection between your weight, your body fat and your period.
I just want to be normal
It would probably be easier if everyone started their periods at thesame time, then no one would have to worry about being different or leftout. But it just doesn't work that way. The girl who starts before herfriends do may be envied by the other girls, but she might feel embarrassedto be different. She may even keep it a secret. The girl who starts laterthan her friends might feel hopelessly immature and wonder what's wrongwith her. When you start your period has nothing to do with the kind ofperson you are, or the things you do. Your body is following its own clock,and you and your friends should respect that you are each going to be alittle different. Be patient, and remember that your period is as uniqueto you as your eyes. Identical twins don't even start at the same time!
The day it comes
Some girls are very happy when their period starts. Others wish theycould just make it stop. But it is probably most common to have mixed feelingson that day. For instance, if you have been waiting for it, you could beexcited that it is finally here and you want to tell all of your friends.You might feel proud, and more grown up. On the other hand, you are a littleembarrassed too, but you don't know why. You tell your mom, but you don'twant her to blab about it to the entire neighborhood. It makes you feelfunny to think of other people, especially boys, knowing that you've started.You ask your mom not to make a big deal about it, but you feel a bit disappointed,like its the day after Christmas.
Congratulations, you are a woman today!
In the United States, there is no official celebration, like a birthdayparty, for your first period. It is strange that something that is so veryexpected is not celebrated when it finally comes.?
Other cultures have big celebrations for a girls first period, and insome cultures a girl takes on all of the responsibilities of a woman whenher period starts. In our culture though, you are in limbo after your periodstarts, because adults may say "congratulations, you are woman today"but they don't treat you like one. Its not like you move into your ownapartment when you start your period. You look in the mirror and you lookthe same, but you know are not the same as you were before.
What is a woman?
The funny thing about being a teenager and a young adult is that eachyear you think you are very mature. You don't act like a kid anymore, peoplethink you are older than you are. You wear adult clothes and make-up, youshave your legs and learn to drive a car.
You can't imagine being any more mature than you are at thattime. Until the next year, or two, or three years down the line, when youlook at some old pictures and say "I look so young there! What wasI wearing?" or you think about mistakes you made then that you wouldnever make now. Each year you fool yourself into thinking you are all grownup, when the maybe the truth is that you never really grow up. Each yearyou learn more about the world and about yourself. So being a woman isn'tsomething that comes to you with your period, or the first time you havesex, or at the age of 21, but it is something you earn through caring,hurting and learning. It is something you will recognize in yourself oneday.