Do You Know What Menarche Is? Here’s everything you need to know
While the word menarche sounds serious and technical, it is a very common, natural thing that happens to every girl. While you might have experienced it not being openly discussed at home or school, you must not shy away from learning about it. We applaud that you have taken the initiative to know more about it.
Now without further ado, let us enlighten you about menarche.
What is menarche?
Menarche is a girl’s first period. It is a milestone during puberty, which is the process of the transition of a child’s body to sexual maturity. With menarche, she enters her reproductive years and can become pregnant through sexual intercourse.
A girl’s first period starts a couple of years after puberty. The years between puberty and the first period differ in people.
Menstruation starts when one of the ovaries releases an egg into the fallopian tube of the uterus. Without sexual intercourse, the egg doesn't fertilise with the sperm, and the body sheds it along with the thickened uterus lining through the vagina in the form of blood, known as a period.
As a young female or her guardian, learning about the signs of the first period or your daughter’s first period is crucial to be prepared. Unlike later menstrual cycles, which are more regular and stable, menarche can be irregular, with cramps and unexpected spotting before periods. Some girls may also experience spotting after periods.
Some signs of menarche include:
- Unpredictable spotting or bleeding.
- Light or, in some cases, heavy abdominal cramps
- Development of thick hair in the pubic area, armpits, & legs
- Formation of acne on the face or skin
- Rapid growth
- Development of breasts
- Changes in body shape, especially thickening of hips & thighs
Menarche signifies the stage of maximum female growth, but your body can continue to grow after your first period.
What is the average age for menarche?
You must have seen your friends getting their first periods before you while some are still waiting for them to come. Let us help you understand why this happens.
Typically, first periods in girls vary from ages of 11 to 14, where the average age is 12.4 years. The age for menarche differs from person to person due to bodily functions and external factors. There are cases where girls have gotten their first period as early as 8 years, while some have gotten them after the age of 16.
What are the factors affecting the first period?
Factors affecting your first period’s arrival could be internal or external. Here are commonly known factors:
Diet is one of the primary factors for physical health. An imbalanced diet can affect your first period.
- Not consuming healthy nutrients like magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamins, & more might extend your menarche age for a couple of years.
- Poorly breastfed children, in some cases, may get their periods late.
- Children who consume more fat and protein tend to reach menarche earlier than those who do not.
Genes play a crucial role in the arrival of periods. You will most probably get your first period at the age when your birth mother did. So, if your mother got it at the age of 14 years, there is a great chance of you getting it around the same age.
3.Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your body weight and height have an impact on your first period. Obesity can prepone your menarche leading to an early period. Well, it can be hard to follow a healthy diet and routine, but it is advised to maintain a healthy BMI for timely periods.
Children with highly stressful lives can experience early or late menarche. Stress can also lead to severe weight gain or loss, which is also a factor that affects the first period. Hence, try to reduce stress or speak with a family member or a medical expert if you are experiencing a lot of stress.
Hormonal functions in your brain and sex organs regulate your body’s menstrual cycle and play a role in the first period.
The onset of menarche is also associated with dietary factors. Girls who intake higher fats or animal protein have early menarche, while those who intake more dietary fibre or vegetable protein experience menarche at later age.
Body changes in girls after first period
Menarche is the start of your reproductive years and brings with it many changes, physical and emotional.
- In several girls, weight and height change drastically. It happens because the body needs an appropriate amount of weight for a healthy menstrual cycle.
- The growth of breasts is one of the crucial processes in a girl’s life. But the process can be a bit weird sometimes. For instance, one breast can grow more than the other. Your nipples grow or could turn dark brown, purple, or grey. They could even turn inward or out.
- Development of hair around the pubic area, armpits, and even upper lips occurs during your menstrual cycle. The hair on your arms and legs might grow thick, dark, and with time.
- Your body odour, especially around your armpits, might change as well. It might happen due to an increase in sweat.
- Your skin type can become oily and prone to acne in the form of pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads
- Vaginal discharge, a thick white secretion released by your vagina for lubrication and bacterial infection, becomes a part of your normal bodily functions.
Your body goes through several changes that can be exciting, dreading or both! But there is nothing to worry about. Every girl experiences these changes. If you are worried, you can speak with your parents, teachers, or medical experts.
Sanitary care for your first period
The duration of the first period generally ranges between 3 to 7 days and has a light flow and less to no menstrual cramps. but this could vary from person to person. Either way, you can still be prepared.
Start with making a sanitary kit. There are several products you can use during your first period, and it involves a lot of experimenting until you find your go-to product.
Sanitary pads are a commonly suggested and used product since they are easily available and comfortable. They come in various sizes and materials. Some are made for medium to light flow, while others can absorb heavy blood flow.
They work the same as pads but are of a different shape. Unlike pads, you will have to insert them into your vagina, and they absorb the blood before it leaves your body. Since they need to be inserted inside, the experience could be uncomfortable.
Made from silicone, cups also work by inserting into the vagina and can hold the blood for 8 to 12 hours. Unlike sanitary pads and tampons, a cup is washable and reusable. However, it can be uncomfortable to use.
Period underwear for girls is the latest in sanitary hygiene. They are just like regular panties, comfortable and easy to wear. Our period panties come in two variants:
- Kotex overnight period panty can be used once and offers protection from leakage and absorbs heavy flow. Specially designed for overnight use allowing you to sleep without the fear of stains.
- Kotex reusable underwear can be washed and used up to 50 times. It too is comfortable and easy to use. Great for medium to light flows so you can go about your daily routine without discomfort or worries.
Menarche is an important time in a girl’s life. It is special as it turns a girl into a woman. It is also a time when you have to be careful towards your health and learn a lot of new things on the way to womanhood.
We hope all of this information will help you have a healthy and comfortable menstrual journey.