Why Do Women Get Periods?

When you reach puberty there are hormones in your body that begin to develop causing breast development and menstrual periods. The process of a menstrual period begins when an egg is released from one of the ovaries. Each month an egg is released from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes. If this egg is fertilized by sperm, it will result in the woman becoming pregnant. If the egg is not fertilized, then two weeks after the egg is released the thick, bloody lining (called the endometrium) that builds up in the uterus between periods, passes out of the body through the vagina. This bloody flow is your menstrual period.

How Old Will I Be When I First Get My Period?

It’s normal to get your period as early as 9 years old and as late as 15 years old.

How Often Will I Get My Period?

You should get your period once a month, approximately once every 28 days from start to start of your periods. Anywhere between 21-35 days from start to start can be normal when it comes to frequency of your periods.

It is possible that your period will not come regularly for the first several months after first starting menstruation. This is completely normal.

Why Might I Have Irregular Periods?

There are many things that can affect the frequency of periods. Some of these things include:

  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Over-exercising
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Certain illness, such as anemia

Remember that a missed period could be a sign of pregnancy. If you are sexually active, or have any reason to think that you could be pregnant, you could take a pregnancy test if you have missed your period. You should also speak to your primary care physician, gynecologist or adolescent medicine specialist.

What Is “Spotting”?

“Spotting” is when there is a very small amount of blood found on menstrual pads or in your underwear in between periods. Some women spot when they are ovulating. Other times spotting can occur as a result of having an STD or because of other medical issues. If you have any questions or concerns about any bleeding that is occurring in between your periods, talk to your doctor about it.

When And Why Should I Talk To My Doctor About My Period?

  • If you haven’t gotten your period by the age of 15 or if you started breast development more than three years ago and still haven’t gotten your period it is recommended to speak to your doctor to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues getting in the way of healthy menstruation.
  • If your periods are generally closer than 21 days apart or are excessively heavy.
  • If your periods are generally more than 35 days apart.
  • If you are having trouble coping with painful cramps or any other symptoms associated with your period.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about menstruation.

TeenHealthFX can appreciate that periods can be a sensitive and potentially embarrassing thing to discuss. However, if you have any questions or concerns about your periods, then it is important for you to talk to a trusted adult about it. You could start by talking to a parent, friend’s parent, or extended family member about it. If you (or the person you are talking to) still has questions or concerns, then definitely check in with your doctor.

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

For more information, read the following Planned Parenthood articles: