How much a woman knows about her first period – or how much her daughter knows about her first period — depends on a few different influences. Women learn so much from friends and family from childhood on, but they can also learn about periods, menstruation and puberty from programs and classes in school.

For young women and their parents, timing for “the talk” is key, and looking out for when her first period comes is essential to a healthy education about her menstrual cycle. So, what signs should a parent look out for?


An important point to remember is that every girl is different. Some girls get their first period as young as 8 or 9 years old, whereas others might not begin to menstruate until they are 15 or 16. Predicting when a period will come solely by age is not an exact science, but other signs will demonstrate that a period is likely on its way.

Family history

Women often begin to menstruate within a year or so of the age their mothers got their first periods. While this may not prove true for every young woman, genetics do play a role.


Developmental changes such as beginning to grow breasts or growing underarm or pubic hair are signs that a first period may be on its way. It’s common for a first period to come around two years after breasts begin to develop. Vaginal discharge that comes with puberty is another sign of a first period.

Every woman’s first period experience will be different as well – it can be light or heavy, with PMS symptoms or without. The first few months could be irregular as the body adapts to menstruation. After a few cycles have passed, it’s likely that period symptoms will become more consistent and a woman will know what to expect each month.

Discussing periods with parents or children does not have to be in any way awkward or uncomfortable. Many preteens and teens benefit from programs at their school, but in the event that these programs aren’t available, it’s important for young women to know what to expect in the time before their first period. Remember, women can begin menstruating as early as 8 years old, and no one wants to be caught off-guard with an experience they don’t understand.