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Signs Your Daughter's First Period Might Be Coming

As parents it seems as though we are often waiting and wondering when our children will reach the next milestone in their development from a baby's first steps, using that last diaper or sending a child off on their first day of school.

Experiencing puberty with your daughter is no different. She will go through many changes including her first period, also known as menarche. We all know that no two kids are the same and no one can tell you exactly when her period will start but there are consistent stages of puberty that you can monitor so that the two of you can both be prepared.

Internal changes can start as young as eight, typically the first visible signs of puberty come around the ages of 11 to 12 when girls develop breast buds. Breast buds are when the nipples are just beginning to elevate. Girls at this age will also grow in height and weight as well as show the beginning signs of pubic hair which starts out fine and straight rather than curly.

Breast growth will continue for one to two years. Her breasts might feel tender and may not be even in size until they are fully developed. Your daughter will start to notice vaginal discharge at this time. You can remind her that this is her body's natural way of cleansing itself and that it is perfectly normal. Remember to talk to your doctor if the discharge is dark in color or has a strong odor as this can be a sign of infection.

About two years after your daughter first develops breast buds and has reached approximately 100 pounds in body weight is when you can expect her period to begin. She may or may not have any other physical signs that her period is coming; everyone is different. She will probably just discover that she has started menstruating on a typical trip to the bathroom. But the more she knows about puberty and the changes her body is going through the less surprised she will feel when that big day comes.

Once your daughter does start her period, she may experience certain symptoms. Although just about every girl experiences menstruation, not every girl has the same experience. Some girls are able to breeze through their monthly periods without any discomfort, while other girls experience various physical problems that make menstruation uncomfortable.

The most common symptom experienced during the monthly cycle is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). PMS is a group of symptoms that may have some impact in the week or so before menstruation begins. Common signs of PMS are:

* Abdominal bloating
* Breast tenderness or swelling
* Stress or anxiety
* Trouble falling asleep
* Joint or muscle pain
* Headache
* Fatigue
* Acne or worsening of existing skin disorders
* Mood swings

While popular belief is that most women experience some signs of PMS, it really is only a small percentage of women who have actual symptoms.

Cramps are another period symptom. During menstruation the uterus contracts or tightens to slough off the endometrium, the mucous membrane that lines the uterus. For some girls this can feel uncomfortable, even painful.

If PMS symptoms or cramps are interfering with your daughter's daily activities, consult with your family physician for advice on improving the situation.

Your daughter may also experience irregular cycles. Most girls will take at least a year to settle into a 'regular' monthly cycle defined as every 28 days, although this can vary anywhere from 21 to 45 days. In the first year, menstruation may only last a few days one month, may be longer the next month, and may vary from light to heavy periods. It is also not uncommon to skip a month or two.

Help your daughter keep track of her periods with a calendar and notes on the type of flow experienced. Talk to your family physician if you have concerns about your daughter's pattern.

Helping your daughter to understand and alleviate any symptoms she may have with her period will encourage her to take care of her own health and have control over her monthly experience.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and are not intended as medical advice. For medical care and advice, you should consult your physician or health care provider on a regular basis. If you have any problem which concerns you, consult your physician immediately.