MENARCHE: A Girl's First Period
The average age that a girl usually gets her first period is 12 years. However, not every girl experiences menarche at the same age. A girl’s period can begin when she is as young as 9 years of age and as old as 14 years of age. This is because each individual develops differently and the hormones responsible for preparing the body for conception and menstruation will also be produced at different ages for different people. Taking physical changes into account, menstruation usually start two years after the breasts start developing and a girl gets armpit hair. If menarche does not occur by the age of 15 years and it has been 3 years since the breast have starting to develop, it is important to visit a doctor.
The Menstrual Cycle
The pituitary gland, situated in our brain, releases hormones that stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs during the reproductive cycle. These eggs grow and mature in the follicle, which begins to produce the hormone estrogen. Estrogen, in turn, helps the uterus prepare for the implantation of a fertilized eff by thickening the lining or endometrium. However, when fertilization does not occur, the egg, along with the uterine lining, need to be shed, cleaned away in preparation for the next egg cycle. This entire process takes an average of 28 days.
MENOPAUSE: The Cycle Ends
Menopause is the term used for the period during which a woman’s reproductive cycle gradually comes to a halt. It usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. In biological terms, this is the stage when the woman no longer ovulates or, in simple words, stops producing eggs and hence cannot get pregnant. Similar to menarche, the age of menopause also differs from person to person. The period of transition from is usually 2 to 8 years. Menopause shouldn't be confused with temporary stopping of periods, which occurs due to pregnancy or illness. However, if you do not have periods for 90 days, you should definitely see a doctor.
With education and awareness, girl’s periods need no longer be a hush-hush topic, filled with myths and misconceptions.