Menarche: An Essential Guide About First Period
Menarche is a term used to define the onset of menstruation. It is the most definitive sign of puberty in girls. In simple words, menarche is the first time a girl menstruates or has a period. To deal with periods and maintain menstrual hygiene, there are several period products available in the market today. Among all the period products, soft cotton pads for periods are widely used by most girls and women in India.
Menarche and every period thereafter are controlled by the rising levels of estrogen in the body. When the level of estrogen rises, it results in the thickening of the uterus lining and releasing of an egg from the ovaries. If the egg isn’t fertilized with sperm, the uterus sheds the lining of its inner wall. This results in the blood and tissue exiting the body via the vagina. This bleeding is called a period. Periods occur around every 28 days and last for between 2 to 7 days each time.
When to expect menarche?
Menarche usually takes place around age 12. However, if it occurs a few years earlier or later, it is completely normal. Menarche is a sign of physical and sexual maturation in the teenage years, also known as puberty.
Throughout the monthly menstrual cycle, your body prepares itself for the possible pregnancy. If you get your period, it basically means that you are not pregnant. If a young girl does not get her next period for a few months after the occurrence of menarche, there is nothing to worry about. It may take some time for the hormone cascade that is responsible for ovulation and regular menstruation to mature.
Reasons for early menarche
According to several experts, the increased body weight during childhood usually results in the early onset of menarche. The early occurrence of menarche is also a sign of precocious puberty in which a child’s body starts changing into that of an adult too early. Some of the key reasons or causes of early menarche can be:
- Genetic predisposition
- Abnormalities related to the central nervous system
- Rare genetic syndromes
- A tumor in the brain, spinal cord, pituitary gland, or ovaries
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia results in abnormal hormone production by the adrenal glands
- Severe hypothyroidism (the thyroid gland not producing enough hormones)
Reasons for delayed menarche
As opposed to early menarche, delayed menarche can be the result of a lack of body fat. The body must have enough fat to enter the puberty phase and get the first menstrual period. Some other possible causes of delayed menarche can be:
- Genetic disorder
- Chronic illnesses like anemia, diabetes mellitus, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, etc.
- Tumors of the pituitary gland or hypothalamus, affecting hormone production
- Radiation or chemotherapy treatment
- Abnormality in the reproductive system
- Autoimmune disorders (e.g., Addison’s disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
Key symptoms of menarche
Menarche symptoms are quite similar to the regular period symptoms. Before the occurrence of menarche or after it happens, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Cramps in the stomach, legs, and lower back
- Acne breakouts
- Abdominal bloating
- Mood swings (feeling extra emotional or irritable)
- Soreness in breasts or chest tissue
- Back pain
- Food cravings
- Clear or white vaginal discharge
Since everyone is different, the symptoms of menarche can be different for different people. Some may not even feel any of these symptoms. The onset of menarche or your first period may only last for a few days. The bleeding may appear red, pink, or brown, and may have clumps in it. Once your first period is over, you may experience different symptoms leading up to your next period. Your next period can be quite heavier as well compared to the first period.
Tips to handle menarche
First and foremost, it is important to have proper knowledge and awareness about periods. Many girls fear that they will get their first period at school or when they are not at home. For anyone who is likely to get her first period any time, it is advisable to prepare a period kit. The kit must contain:
- A couple of superior quality soft cotton pads for periods (teen-size sanitary pads)
- A clean pair of underwear
- Pain relievers, like acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Keep this kit all the time with you so that in case you are away from home, you can use this kit to avoid the chances of leakage when your period begins.
When to see a doctor?
If you are facing any of the below-mentioned issues, it is advisable to consult a doctor:
- If you haven’t had a period by the age of 15
- If you are struggling to deal with the symptoms and flow of your periods
- If you are experiencing heavy bleeding (need to change your pad every 1 to 2 hours)
- If bleeding lasts for more than a week
- If bleeding occurs between periods
- If your periods are regular and then suddenly become irregular
If you are facing any of these issues, it’s worth consulting with a professional to check if there are any underlying causes.
To wrap up
Every person can have a different experience related to menarche. For some, it can be a very confusing experience. Those who are already aware of this natural process may have a smooth experience as they can prepare themselves both mentally and physically in advance for their first period. It is also important to note that maintaining menstrual hygiene is very important for the mental and physical health of a woman. Always use good quality period products like soft cotton pads for periods that assure complete protection against leakage, rashes, and other health issues.
Nowadays, various companies are coming up with period products that assure hygienic menstruation. Wonderize is one such company that provides superior quality women’s hygiene products including sanitary pads, period panties, and panty liners. The company works with an aim to spread menstrual hygiene awareness among women and encourage them to use hygienic products to deal with their period. For more details about Wonderize products, visit- www.wonderize.in.