Sexual Health

Starting periods

Periods usually start any time between the ages of 10 and 15, but some start before this and others start later. If they haven't started by the age of 16 women can get a doctor to check there is nothing wrong. 

Most young women learn about periods from their mums, or magazines, although some who start early may not be prepared - one woman we interviewed 'knew nothing' when she started at 11 and another said she was 'terrified' when she started at nine years old.

Many girls feel happy about starting their periods, but others can feel nervous or embarrassed. Some cultures celebrate a girl's first period, which can make them feel special. The majority of young women don't mind having them, even if they're not big fans of periods.

Girls usually tell their mums when then start, and some said that their mums were 'proud' of them. Sometimes girls don't tell their mums right away because they feel shy or embarrassed.

Sometimes coming to terms with growing up is more upsetting than the physical side 'I didn't want it to happen and thought 'No I don't want this, I don't want this'. I think I just realised that I was growing up and it scared me. I was starting a new school at the end of the summer and it was just a lot of change for a little girl and it was scary'.

When they are at school most girls worry about 'leaking' or 'showing' when they first start, and are scared they may have a mark on their clothes or chair. Some girls also notice they change in their behaviour and feel more grown up.

Last reviewed January 2016.

Last updated August 2012.


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