Dear Dr. Cara: How do I know when my daughter will get her period?

Dear Dr. Cara: How do I know when my daughter will get her period?

Our expert: Dr. Cara Natterson

Our resident expert on all things girls. She’s a board certified pediatrician, author of the best-selling book series The Care and Keeping of You, and travels the country speaking about health and wellness issues to both kids and parents.

How do I know when my daughter is going to get her period?

Don’t we all wish we knew the answer to that one?! Especially your daughter…

There is no sure sign that your daughter is about to get her period. There are, however, a few clues. The following changes often happen before a girl gets her period. Of course, the body doesn’t always follow a list of instructions, so there will be girls who don’t fit this mold. But here are a few things to look for:

  • Breasts. They don’t have to be huge, but there is almost always some breast development before a first period.
  • Hair. Some girls have a lot while other only a little, but most girls can see at least some hair in their armpits or around their vagina before their periods begin. If your daughter is a private person, you may have no clue about her hair growth. But hair in other places – like the arms and legs – can get thicker or more noticeable as well.
  • Sweat and pimples. These appear as sweat and oil glands respond to hormones. But they can precede a period by years.
  • Moods. These, too, can show up ages before a period. But moodiness – everything from sadness to anger to silliness – is a sign of shifts in hormone levels, and these are the same hormones that control the menstrual cycle.
  • Vaginal discharge. This clear liquid-but-sticky fluid first appears every once in a while, but eventually comes every day. The increase in frequency can be a sign that a girl is getting ready to start her period.

Once she starts getting her period, encourage your daughter to pay attention to how her body feels in the hours or days before the bleeding begins. You don’t want to encourage drama, but if she notices that her breasts feel tender or her belly has some cramps she may begin to clue into the timing of her cycle. Some girls want to wear a pad every day just in case, and that’s fine! And you might also encourage the use of a calendar to keep track of when her periods start and end – once they become regular, she can use the calendar to predict when the next one will arrive.

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