Home > Teens > Puberty and Sex > Changes During Puberty > When Does Menstruation Begin?

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

When Does Menstruation Begin?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: When does a kid get her period? She is already 12 and all she has is yellow discharge.

A: The age at which a girl will start to menstruate is quite variable. Some girls start as early as 9, others not until 15 or 16. The pattern of body changes leading up to menstruation is very specific and predictable though, and this can help you estimate when she will start to have her periods. The first pubertal change is the development of breast buds: a small amount of breast tissue under one or both nipples. The breasts then get larger, with the areola (the area around the nipple) protruding as well. It is approximately two years from the time the breasts begin to "bud" until the time the periods start. The other thing that happens during this time is the adolescent growth spurt. It usually occurs shortly after the breasts have started to grow. Girls will often grow many inches in a few months during this growth spurt. The other change that is notable is the development of pubic hair. This usually starts after the breasts begin to bud, though in many cases it can start first. Once a girl has a "triangle" of pubic hair and noticeable breast enlargement, it is likely that menstruation will follow soon. Many girls will get a small amount of vaginal discharge in the six months before the periods start, and this is another sign that it is about to start.

It is important to make sure that you have specifically talked with a young girl before this all happens. The changes in one's body that occur during adolescence can be very disturbing to young girls and it helps tremendously if they know what to expect, and know that they can ask questions as the changes occur.

Related articles:

Almost Everything You've Wanted to Know About Sex ... Education

Talking to Our Teens About Sex -- Parents Share Advice

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks