16 and No Period: What’s Wrong with Me?

More than 26 years ago at the whopping old age of 10, I started my menstrual cycle. I was in the 6th grade and I felt like a spotlight was pointed directly at me for one week a month. None of my friends had even started puberty, let alone started their menstrual cycle. The first thing I thought was, “What’s wrong with me?” I never once thought about the fact that there are girls on the other end of the spectrum asking the same question. The onset of puberty occurs at different times for different girls and just because you’ve reached 14, 15 or 16 years old without your first menstrual cycle doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you just as there was nothing wrong with me.

What Causes Early Menstruation?

Early menstruation is associated with early onset puberty. Typically, the first menstrual cycle happens about two to three years after puberty starts. It is a common misconception that puberty and your first period are one in the same. Puberty starts when breasts begin to develop and body hair starts to grow on underarms. If puberty starts early, menstruation will likely start early. One of the possible causes of early menstruation is increased body fat, commonly referred to as childhood obesity. Childhood obesity has garnered more publicity in the past decade than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it is a new thing. I was overweight as a child and I started puberty at eight with my first menstruation beginning at 10.

What Causes Delayed First Menstruation?

The first thing you have to realize is that what you perceive as delayed first menstruation at the age of 16 may be your normal puberty cycle. If your body didn’t start developing, or enter puberty, until the age of 13 or 14, you are right on track and you may not start your period until you reach 17 or so. While this is later than many, or even all, of your peers, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you.

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If you’re determined to find out what’s going on, start by asking female family members when they had their first menstrual cycle. Constitutional delay of the first period can run in families. If one or more of your family members developed later than their peers, you are more likely to develop later. Other causes can include nutritional deficiencies or hormonal problems, so talk with your parents about visiting the gynecologist.

The onset of puberty will determine when your first period happens. If you noticed your breasts starting to develop later than your peers, your period will also be later – in most cases. Developing later does not always mean there is something wrong. It may simply mean you’re a late bloomer.

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