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How frequently will my daughter have periods?

Once your daughter's menstrual cycle becomes more regular, she should expect to have a period every 25 to 30 days. However, it's not uncommon for girls to have periods as frequently as every 21 days, or as spread out as every 45 days.

The time lapse between periods is highly dependent upon genetics, stress, and weight. You should also know that there are many documented cases where girls have essentially stopped having periods during times of grueling physical exertion, such as long-term training to run in marathons, or if they are anorexic. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that adolescent females seek a medical evaluation if they have irregular menstrual cycles that occur less than every 90 days.

Once your daughter's menstrual cycle becomes more regular, she should expect to have a period every 25 to 30 days.

When will my daughter enter puberty?

Interestingly, there are a number of factors that can influence when a girl enters puberty. Of course, as we've seen, genetics plays a very important role. However, there are other variables as well, some of which are rather surprising. For instance, not only does nutrition have an impact on when a girl first begins menstruating, but so too does the altitude at which the girl lives, how close she lives to the equator, and how heavy she is; some researchers even claim it can be affected by whether there is a father-figure in the household.

In general, during the past few decades there has been a noticeable decrease in the age at which girls in the United States enter puberty. Some people believe that this is a direct result of the hormones that are administered to cows. Their concern is that these hormones eventually end up in the cows' milk, and then, in turn, they end up in our daughters' bodies when they drink this milk. This hypothesis has been hotly debated over the years, but as of now, it is not generally accepted by the medical community. The more accepted theory regarding the declining age for the onset of periods relates to the increased prevalence of childhood obesity. Simply stated, the heavier the adolescent girl, the earlier she will menstruate.

What symptoms will my daughter experience during her periods?

Many girls and women notice a change in their bowel habits around the time of their period. This is caused by prostaglandins[1], which are hormones released by the uterus[2] during a menstrual cycle. These prostaglandins can cause nausea, intestinal cramping, and diarrhea. These unpleasant symptoms can occur to such a degree that otherwise healthy women and girls find it necessary to stay home from work or school during "that time of the month."

When my patients tell me they're experiencing these problems, I recommend that they take ibuprofen or Naprosyn[3]. These medications are known as antiprostaglandins[4]. As such, they can alleviate the nausea, cramping, and diarrhea. Similarly, oral contraceptives[5] can greatly reduce these symptoms because they, too, have an antiprostaglandin effect.

Donna says:

During my daughter's menstrual cycle she experienced some discomfort in her breasts. She indicated that they were tender to the touch. She also had some cramping. I gave her some ibuprofen for the discomfort and that took care of it. Her stomach seems to be upset with certain foods during her cycle, and she needs more rest.

Brett says:

Usually, my period is only accompanied by cramps. Sometimes, these cramps are quick and over in a short time, but sometimes they can be very painful and it is hard to concentrate in school. It is really important that if you to tend to get these bad symptoms to know how to deal with them. When my cramps are at their worst, I tend to take Advil, which alleviates the majority of the pain in about 20 minutes. However, when I have only minor symptoms, such as bloating, minor cardio exercise like a jog for only 15 minutes, can really help.

  • [1] A group of naturally occurring hormonal substances that have a widespread effect on the human body. One type of prostaglandin is produced by the uterus and causes contractions of the uterine muscle. High levels of prostaglandin have been associated with painful menstrual cramps.
  • [2] A hollow, pear-shaped organ in the pelvis where a developing fetus grows. The lower part is attached to the cervix. The lining of the uterus sheds monthly as the menstrual period.
  • [3] A common over-the-counter, antiprostaglandin product that is used for menstrual cramps, headaches, and other pains. One example is Aleve.
  • [4] Medications that counteract the effects of prostaglandins. Ibuprofen and naprosyn are examples of over-the-counter antiprostaglandins.
  • [5] A general term that encompasses methods, medications, and devices to prevent pregnancy.
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