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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Menarche
February 2000

Q. When does menarche occur?

A. Menarche, or when menstruation starts, varies considerably from person to person. Indeed, over the years menarche is occurring at a younger age, so that girls tend to start before their mothers did.

There is no 100% accurate method for predicting when menarche will occur, though the development of all sexual characteristics tend to follow a predictable pattern. The most common description of the pattern is the Tanner Staging of Secondary Sex Characteristics. A table of this staging is available at http://lib-sh.lsumc.edu/fammed/intern/tanner.html.

Menarche is not listed in the Tanner stages. About 40% of teens will have menarche by Tanner Stage II and 90% by Tanner Stage IV.

A more detailed description of adolescence, including recommended web related to physical and psychological development, is available at http://www.educ.drake.edu/edad/294/module4.html.

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