Inside: What are the first signs your daughter is about to start her period? Find out what signs to look out for, so that you can prepare your daughter for her first period (before it already happens). Plus you'll find a resource at the end of this article, to help you with talking.
If I could invent a machine that could predict a girl's first period to the exact day (even to the week), I would be a rich person. As it is the one thing that tween girls want to know!
I have a Youtube Channel for Sex Ed Rescue, and for some strange reason, a lot of tweens have been watching my puberty content. So many that I've had to start a channel with age-appropriate information just for them - Puberty Talk. And they keep on asking me when they'll get their first period. It is something that they really want to know, and the other tweens will make comments about how long a wait it is, for this life-changing event to finally happen.
But back to that period-predicting machine, it is impossible to accurately predict when a first period will happen. Predicting the first period isn't easy, as it is different for every girl.
But there are three things that first have to happen to a girl before periods will start.
You'll find more information about puberty (and periods) in my Puberty 101 page.
It may help your daughter to know that every girl is different. Some girls will start their period earlier than other girls. And some girls will start their periods later. Some girls may be as young as nine or 10. Whereas some girls may be 14 or 15. The average age for a first period is 12 or 13.
So as you can see there is a wide range of ages, with a first period usually happening anywhere between the ages of 9 to 15 years of age.
Sometimes we can predict that a girls first period will happen around about the same age that it did for her mother (plus or minus a year). So if had your first period at the age of 11, you could then expect your daughter to be starting her period earlier than the other girls, just like you. But this isn’t 100% accurate, as I hear from many parents who’s daughters started their periods much earlier or later than they did. Plus research tells us that the average age of puberty in girls today is much earlier than it was for previous generations. There are many theories as to why puberty is occurring at earlier ages, attributing it to a wide variety of genetic, hormonal, nutritional and environmental factors. You can learn more in this article about the stages of puberty in girls.
There are three changes that have to happen before your daughter has her first period. Once these three changes have started, you will finally have the first signs your daughter is about to start her period. Just remember though, that every girl is different and her period will start when her body is ready for it. And the changes don’t necessarily have to happen in this order.
Your daughter will have been developing breasts for about two years. Now, this doesn’t mean that her breasts will be fully developed and adult-like. It just means that she will have had something growing on her chest for about 2 years. So she may still be relatively flat-chested or she may need to be wearing a bra. Remember, every girl is different!
Your daughter will have had some pubic and/or underarm hair for at least the last four to six months. Now, again, this doesn’t mean that she will have a full crop of adult-like hair. It just means that she will have started to grow hair of some sort, in the pubic area or under her arms.
Your daughter will have been having some vaginal discharge for the last three months. Some girls can have this up to two to three years before their first period. In this case, if it starts to get heavier and more frequent, then that is a sign that her period is on its way, sometime in the next 3 to 6 to 12 months! You can’t get much more accurate than that!
Vaginal discharge can be a little tricky to explain to girls. She may notice a white or yellow stain on her underwear, or start commenting about feeling wet around her vulval area. Some girls worry when this first happens. They think that they may have wet themselves, or that there is something wrong with them. It is important for your daughter to know that she is normal and that her vaginal discharge will change during her menstrual cycle. Sometimes it will be lighter or heavier and she needs to get used to finding patches of white or yellow on her underwear!
Your daughter may also get premenstrual symptoms beforehand, like tummy cramps, back ache, headaches, feeling bloated, slight nausea, tiredness and possibly even feel irritable, sad, and/or tense.
I’ve created a Quiz to help to look for signs your daughter is about to start her period. Ideally, you can complete this together with your daughter, as it provides a wonderful opportunity to start talking with her about periods. You can find the ‘When will I start my first period?’ Quiz here, with extra info and videos to explain the answers.
My 13 year old daughter spotted this quiz on my computer screen and has had a lot of fun testing it for me.
She thinks it is important for girls to know that these three things have to happen before your first period. As she says, now that she has all 3 signs, she now knows that she needs to carry her DIY period kit in her schoolbag, just in case her period starts whilst at school. And for the first time ever, she now takes it to school, instead of leaving it lying on her bedroom floor.
So do go and read my blogpost on how to make up your own DIY period kit. You can use anything to hold all the gear your daughter needs for her periods, but this is what I think makes the best period bag for tween girls. My daughter uses these bags and she really likes them as they are purpose-built to be used when out and about.
If you’re looking for a book that talks primarily about periods, you will find them in my list of some of the best menstruation (or period) books.
You’ll also find in this list, some fantastic puberty books as well.
If you’re unsure about how to start talking to your daughter, Puberty Girl – How to talk about puberty and sex with your tween girl, will help you to get started. It is a straightforward common-sense guide that doesn’t just tell you what to talk about, but how to start saying it.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.