Dear Dr. Cara: When will my first period come?

Dear Dr. Cara: When will my first period come?

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.

When will my first period come?

The short answer is: I don’t know.

The unpredictability of when you will get your first period is often the worst part. Girls want to know exactly when and where it’s going to happen so they can plan for it, avoiding any possible embarrassment. Unfortunately, there is no sure sign that it is coming in an hour or a day or a week.

There are, however, a few clues. These are things that usually happen to your body before you are ready to get your first period. If you have already noticed these changes, then your period may be coming sometime soon:

  • You have breasts. They don’t have to be huge, but there is almost always some breast development before your first period.
  • You have 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.
  • You sweat more and you might have a few pimples.
  • You are moodier than you used to be. This doesn’t mean only bad moods – some girls get silly or giggly, too. But mood swings are a sign of changes in hormone levels within your body, and these are the hormones that control your period.
  • You notice discharge in your underpants. This clear liquid-but-sticky fluid will come out of your vagina as your body develops. Some girls see it every once in a while; others have it every day. Discharge is totally normal and especially when it s more frequent this can be a sign that you are getting ready to start your period.


Once you start getting your period, try to pay attention to how your body feels in the hours or days before the bleeding starts. For instance, your breasts might feel tender or your belly may have some cramps. The more you get to “know” your own body, the more you will be able to predict when your next period will start so that you can better prepare. If you want to wear a pad just in case, that’s fine! And don’t forget about using a calendar to keep track of when your periods start and end – once they become regular, you can use the calendar to predict when the next one will arrive.

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