Dr. Dean

My 16-Year-Old Daughter Hasn't Started Her Period. Is Something Wrong?

Posting Date: 08/25/1999

Ron: My 16-year-old daughter still hasn't started her period. Is there something wrong?

I know that dieting or extreme exercise can delay periods, but she isn't into either of those.

Dr. Dean: Well, 16 is on the cusp.

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And while you may be one of the lucky few, fathers usually don't know what kinds of dieting, or other things, their girls are up to. Stress is another thing that can delay the onset of a girl's period.

For a small percentage of young women, 16 is a normal age for the first period; so, chances are, this is what's normal for her. If she were 18, I'd be concerned.

Still, I would mention it to her pediatrician - gynecologist sounds a little strange, doesn't it, Dad? Some girls do need hormones to make their periods start, but I think the doctor will probably want to wait for another six months or so without intervening unless your daughter has some other symptoms.

Unlike your daughter's case, girls are now getting their periods earlier and earlier. (See "Puberty Coming Earlier And Earlier For Girls.")

The downside to earlier menstruation is that it increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. We think the longer exposure to estrogen - say from the ages of 13 until menopause at 50 - is the culprit.