Help! My 14 Year Old Daughter Hasn't Started Her Period (or AFAB)
If you’re a parent and you’ve recently Googled “my 14 year old hasn't started their period,” you may be feeling at a loss. It’s possible that your child is the last person in their class to get a period and feels like they are falling behind. But there’s no reason to worry - bodies are different and everyone develops on their own time. Not having a period at 14 is nothing to be concerned about.
What’s the average age for first menstrual cycles?
The average age for a person to get their first menstrual period is 12.5 and the average age range for getting a period is anywhere from 9 to 15, so 14 still falls well within that age range. That said, there may be several reasons why your daughter or child’s menstrual cycle is delayed-- a condition called primary amenorrhea. Here's what to do if your 14-year-old’s first period hasn't started yet.
More reading: Download our FREE period guide to support you and your teen through puberty and their first menstrual cycles.
Check for signs of puberty
Menstrual bleeding will typically begin two years after the onset of puberty. (If you need a refresher on all the signs and stages download Kt’s Free Period Guide here.) Some of the first signs of puberty include developing breast buds and hair growth, such as armpit or pubic hair.
If all these signs of puberty are present in your daughter or child but they still have not had their menstrual cycle arrive, there are a few things you can do to help encourage it. Read this post to learn more about how to make your period come faster.
Nutrients and a healthy diet
Make sure your child is eating a healthy diet packed with nutrients and vitamins. Start by encouraging them to take a multivitamin every day. While multivitamins can be helpful, they are not a substitute for a healthy diet. It is particularly important that you get plenty of iron from your food if you take a multivitamin.
Eat a diet high in calcium and iron
There are several ways to get more calcium and iron into your diet. Some are foods they might not normally eat, but if you're worried about their menstrual periods not starting by 14, it's worth it to give them a chance.
Here's what to eat:
Milk (1 cup) - 125 milligrams of calcium
Yogurt (8 oz) - 105 milligrams of calcium
Dark leafy greens (1 cup cooked) - 362 milligrams of calcium
Beans/legumes (1 cup cooked beans) - 113-170 milligrams of iron depending on type
Tofu (4 ounces tempeh or seitan strips**) 133-195mg iron depending on type
Stress can also affect the timing of a person’s period. Stress makes people feel tired, which can affect their energy levels as well as interrupt the hormones being produced in their body creating a hormone imbalance. Stress can also cause unhealthy food cravings —such as chocolate or chips—which can affect period timing as well.
If stress is part of what's causing their delayed period, try these techniques:
Figure out what causes most of the stress in their life (work? school? family issues?) and then work on resolving those issues by talking through them with friends or family members who are supportive; seeing a counselor if necessary.
Eat healthy food regularly so that if/when cravings do strike again later down the line, the other food going into their body is nourishing.
Wait it out: Their menstrual cycle may be on the way
It can be tricky, but overall, there’s not much to do. Try not to worry about it. Their period is going to start soon, but it's not the end of the world if it takes a bit of extra time.
It's normal to feel nervous when you're worried that something is wrong with your daughter or child's body, but it’s likely everything is fine. If still in doubt, book an appointment to speak with a healthcare provider.
Be prepared: Shop period kits now to prevent leaks once their period starts.
Talk to your doctors
If you still feel like something is wrong, listen to your intuition and go speak with a doctor. List off the symptoms and they will determine the likelihood of whether or not your child or daughter’s delayed period is being caused by a possible medical condition.
A physical exam is usually also part of this conversation, so make sure you're prepared for that as well. The doctor will likely want to know if there have been any recent changes in their body, body weight, or lifestyle—like weight gain or weight loss, changes in eating habits and exercise levels—as those can affect when puberty starts and how it progresses. Low weight could be a cause for irregular periods or a missing first period. This isn't always easy information to talk about, but it helps them determine if there's anything unusual going on with their health that could explain their delay in menstruation (or lack thereof).
What to expect at the doctor’s visit
The doctor may order blood tests, a pelvic exam, a pelvic ultrasound or hormone treatment. It may be uncomfortable but it's completely normal and better to have the amenorrhea diagnosed.
Additionally, if the cause turns out not be related directly with menstruation itself but rather some other part of puberty, addressing these issues sooner rather than later could help prevent future complications down the road by preventing missed opportunities for intervention early on.
Overall, puberty and menstruation is a complicated subject and there are no easy answers. Make sure your child knows the basics like how to insert a tampon so they're ready for their period when it does come along. It can be awkward to talk to your child or daughter about what’s going on with the changes in their bodies, but try to make sure that you’re both on the same page.