Puberty and Menstrual Concerns

Also known as: menstrual problems, menstruation in girls and adolescents, dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea, menorrhagia, oligomenorrhea, cramps, heavy menstrual bleeding, premenstrual symptoms, PMS.

What are puberty and menstrual concerns?

Puberty is that time when a child is changed into an adult. As children reach the age of adolescence and puberty, a variety of concerns can arise for both boys and girls as their bodies mature sexually. In girls, these concerns usually take the form of problems with their menstrual cycle.

Menstruation (also called a “period”) is the monthly passing of blood from the uterus through the vagina that usually starts between 12-13 years of age and approximately 2 years after the beginning of breast development (breast buds). African-American, Hispanic and overweight girls tend to start puberty earlier (nutrition and other factors may also play a role in the timing of menstruation onset).

What causes puberty?

The body is going through a lot of changes during puberty. These are due to the release of sex hormones that stimulate the body to make the changes. These hormones include estrogen and testosterone, as well as other sex hormones.

What are the symptoms of puberty in girls?

In girls, it’s typical for them to gain in height and weight, develop more rounded upper arms, thighs, belly and for breasts to start developing as their body begins changing. Pubic hair begins to grow around the private parts and eventually spreads to the abdomen, inner thighs and armpits, and the menstrual cycle begins.

Because of the increase in hormones produced, girls may have mood changes especially before their period begins (premenstrual syndrome or PMS). Other concerns like acne, bloating, headaches, constipation, and sadness or irritability are other common symptoms.

Menstrual disorders include painful cramps (dysmenorrhea), heavy bleeding (menorrhagia), no bleeding cycle (amenorrhea), light or infrequent bleeding (oligomenorrhea).

What are care options for menstrual concerns? 

Parents who are concerned about their child’s puberty and menstrual cycle can speak to the family doctor or an OB/GYN. Many of these problems are common and can be treated with medications, counseling or other therapies.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: February 03, 2021 03:47 PM

Adolescent Medicine

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Dysmenorrhea

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

PMS refers to a group of uncomfortable symptoms or painful cramps that girls commonly experience just before or during their monthly period. Learn more