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Irregular Periods

Things Your Teen Needs to Know About Irregular Periods

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Quick Links: Teen Health | Quiz: Are you raising a healthy teen?

Parents of teen daughters with irregular periods often ask these questions: Why is my teen daughter's period only once every two months? Or why does she get her period twice a month? Why does it last for only 2 days one month and 10 days the next? Here are the things you and your teen daughter needs to know if she has irregular periods:

  • It is normal for a girl during her first two years of menstruating to have an irregular menstrual cycle. Some women have irregular periods for their entire lives, although most women have a cycle that they can count out. The 28-day cycle that is written about in books and followed by doctors is an average, not the rule. A teen's body is influenced by it's growth and therefore can start and stop the menstrual cycle while it's growing.
  • The length of time in days and the amount of blood of a girl's period is influenced by the amount of hormones that her body is currently manufacturing. Therefore, it is normal for a teen who is growing and has fluctuating hormones for the amount of blood and the length of time her period lasts to be different from one period to the next.
  • Teach your daughter to start recognizing the signs and symptoms of her period so she will have an idea of when it is coming. If she has irregular periods, you'll want her to carry a pad with her at all times, as it will be best if she is prepared when she does get her period. You should ask her to mark down on a calendar when her period starts and when it ends. This is important because if her irregular periods become a medical problem you will have the answers to her doctors questions about when she had her periods and how irregular they were.
  • While skipping one month or having a shorter or longer span of days between periods isn't abnormal for a teen, if your daughter's period doesn't show for a much longer amount of time, you'll want to consult her doctor. The development of amenorrhea - absence of a menstrual period for three months or more - should be reported to your teen's doctor as it could be a sign of premature ovarian failure, a condition that fully develops in a women's 40s.
  • There are many outside influences that can cause irregular periods. Here are some: If you feel one of these influences may be causing your teen's irregular periods, you should talk to her doctor.
  • If your teen is sexually active and skips a period, she should be seen by a doctor to rule out pregnancy. If she is normally irregular she should still see a doctor after two 28-day cycles of not getting her period. A missed period is still a sign of pregnancy - even in women who have irregular periods.

    Quick Links: Teen Health | Quiz: Are you raising a healthy teen?

    Sources:
    On the Teen Scene: A Balanced Look at the Menstrual Cycle by Marian Segal, provided by the FDA
    My Periods Are Irregular. Is Something Wrong With Me? provided by the Nemours Foundation
    Irregular Menstruation in Teens by Shari Nethersole, a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Article is located on FamilyEducation.com.

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