The Girls' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Hi! I am curious to know when I will get my first period. I am 11 years and 8 months old at around a height of 5 feet. I am not fat, but I look a little chubby despite the fact that I exercise a little and have a pretty balanced diet (I heard you gain weight while going through puberty). My mom started her menstrual flow around the age of 11.5 and her mom around the age of 12.5. My grandmother on my dad's side started at 15. I read that you start menarche 4-6 months after you start getting pubic hairs and I think that has already passed. I have noticed my breasts growing and getting armpit hairs. I also have a moderate amount of acne. Please help me with my curiosity! Thanks so much!


Answer

Most girls, though not nearly all, experience their first menarche when their bodies have reached stage four of their development. See the description of each stage to decide where you are at. From your description of yourself, I would guess that you are in stage 2. Yes, weight gain is normal just before your growth spurt; after all, the energy for all that growth has to come from somewhere. You will have a period of about six months to a year (stage 3) where you will grow twice as fast as you have been during your childhood. As that growth spurt winds down this will generally be the time you experience your first menarche. To estimate what stage of development you are in, see the Tanner Stage Calculator for Girls .

Acne is a pain during the teenage years. The only comfort is that it will fade once you have grown (though it may not completely go away). Acne is caused by three factors: your growing skin produces more oils during growth, your skin is shedding dead cells at a faster rate, and bacteria love the free food. The oils and skin cells tend to plug the oil glands, which then swell and look ugly. Bacteria get trapped under the plug and and have a free for all, which causes you skin to swell and redden as your body tries to battle the bacteria. There are three basic products to help the situation:

  1. Soap is the first line of defense. It removes excess oil and skin cells, and it kills off a lot of bacteria. So keeping your skin washed will help a lot. The problem is that it is hard to control how much oil you are removing and it can cause the skin to become overly dry.
  2. Cleansing products with salicylic acid or glycolic acid soften and helps remove excess skin cells. Fewer free skin cells means fewer clogs. Many people, however, find these mild acids to be irritating. Instead of using it everywhere, it is better to use it in spots where the acne is worse.
  3. Products containing benzoyl peroxide kill bacteria on the surface of your skin. While it can't stop the plugs, it can keep them from getting red and swollen. You can find it in a 2.5% and a 10% solution. The 2.5% is actually adequate. Many people find the 10% solution irritating to their skin.

Generally you will have to experiment to figure out how much, how often, and where you need various products to get a good result. Once your periods start, you will have to make alterations as the fluctuating hormones of your monthly cycle will change what you need and when you need them.

An interesting way to reduce breakouts is to place a clean towel on your pillow every night. This prevents re-infections from the prior day's bacteria and the towel will help absorb some of the excess oils from the face.