Why haven’t I had my period yet?

By Kat Wenger, Intern at Clue

Periods can be frustrating, messy and sometimes downright painful. Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait to get mine. When I was nine, my mom taught me about periods, but stressed that I shouldn’t expect mine to start any time soon since she had gotten hers later than average. Still, I was determined that that wouldn’t be the case for me.

When I was 10, I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, looked down, and finally, a little spot of blood! The wait was over! I was a grownup now, ready to tackle anything! I rushed down the hall to tell my mom who gave me a pad with an unconvinced look on her face. That night I was almost too excited to sleep, knowing what I could tell all my friends in the morning. You can imagine my despair when there was not a hint of red to be seen, only a small cut on my upper thigh. False alarm.

Throughout elementary and middle school I had to sit through various puberty talks and was given countless handfuls of pads and tampons from sex ed teachers “just in case.” I had to watch all of my friends come into school ready to spill the details of where they were and how they felt now that they were “a real woman.” I wasn’t as physically mature as they were but I felt absolutely sure that this milestone would make me fit in again. Days, months and years passed. I watched everyone develop, claim that they had “synced up,” and relate to each other’s symptoms. I felt excluded.

Then, one day, I realized I was the only one left. All of my friends and classmates had experienced a sensation that I couldn’t even fathom. I asked a friend in the grade above me if it felt like peeing and she laughed. I was inconsolable and scared. My mom tried to cheer me up by saying that I shouldn’t want it anyway. I asked my doctor if I was normal. She gave me a year.

A year and a half later, at 14 and a half, I finally got my period. I was alone. I calmly went to my parent’s bathroom and borrowed a pad. It was incredibly anticlimactic. No cake, no congratulations, no profound revelations, just me and some bloody uterine lining.

Looking back, I was lucky. I longed to be a part of a group that was connected by blood, and took no time to appreciate that I didn’t yet have to worry about keeping a supply of menstrual products on hand or learn how to get blood stains out of my underwear. I was simply scared I wasn’t normal. But when it comes to the menstrual cycle, there really is no absolute normal.

The average age for a first period (also called menarche) has been slowly creeping down for years. I wish someone had given me the advice to be patient, appreciate the time you have without it and don’t be afraid to be the last one bleeding. You’ll have, on average, 40 years of getting your period, and an extra year or two won’t make too much difference.

Are you still waiting to get your period? Try not to stress out about it too much. Everyone is different. If you’re worried that your prolonged menarche points to a larger health issue, or you haven’t gotten your period by 15, then consult your healthcare provider. Once you get your period, Clue is here to help.