When you hear “menstruation,” you might think, “Ugh! Periods!” That’s how I felt before I joined the Menarche (first period) Study at Children’s Hospital Boston. Now, the word menstruation makes me think about discussing puberty with my mom and my monthly visits with Maggie*, a researcher. Best of all, it makes me think of how my experiences could help girls everywhere.
My mom works at Children’s Hospital part-time, so that’s how I found out about the Menarche Study. With the study, doctors hope to find a method to predict when a girl will have her first period. To join the study, you had to be a girl who hadn’t had her period and who was average height and build—that way, the researchers could analyze your results with everyone else’s.
When I first stepped into the Adolescent Program waiting room at the hospital, I was really nervous. This was my first time being part of a national study—or any study, for that matter! An energetic and kind study organizer greeted my mom and me. She told me what I’d have to do in the study. She told me I could take the samples and fill out the diaries at home, and I would just have to return it to the clinic once a month. I wouldn’t have to do any blood tests, MRIs, or CAT Scans. I was happy about that!
Out of 65 girls in the study, I was the first one to sign up and also the first one to graduate, which made me feel pretty special! I graduated from the study 3 months after starting it because I got my first period. Then I started to reflect on what I’d done. At first I was overwhelmed and scared to be part of a national study, but now I think it was really cool.
It’s exciting to think this study could help girls like me everywhere. After a girl has had her period for a couple years, she can start to predict when it will come regularly. But waiting for that first period to start is stressful! You can wake up every day for years wondering, “Is today the day?” Imagine how nice it would be to know whether you should pack pads or not before going on a 10-day camping trip!
Because the study isn’t finished yet, I’m not sure what the researchers have found. But I can’t wait until the results are released!
Children’s Hospital Boston is the main pediatric teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School and also has the world’s largest children’s medical research facility.
Right now, there’s no sure way to predict when girls will have their first period. However, most girls have their periods about two years after they first notice breast development or pubic hair—or about six months after their body first starts releasing white or clear mucous from the vagina (vaginal discharge).
“When I joined in the study, I got a firsthand look at what it would be like to have my period. I’d have it once a month, just like my monthly checkups with Maggie, and there might be some inconveniences along the way, but mostly it would be really interesting.” – Kati, 13
* Names have been changed.
© 2005 New Moon® Publishing, New Moon®: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams, Duluth MN.
Content last reviewed May 15, 2008
Page last updated October 31, 2013