How the Menstrual Cycle Affects Teenage Girls

The menstrual cycle, beginning around age 9 to 13, involves physical and hormonal changes across four phases: menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase. This cycle, typically lasting 28 days, affects mood, health, and fertility, with experiences varying widely among individuals. Some may face minimal discomfort, while others have to deal with intense pain. 

the full story
00 Menstrual cycle

Around age 9 to 13, girls enter puberty and have their very first period. From this day forward, their hormone levels fluctuate, affecting their body, brain and behavior — a phenomenon known as the menstrual cycle.

the menstrual cycle
01 Menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is divided into 4 phases: Menstruation, follicular phase, ovulation with a fertile window, and the luteal phase. The length of the cycle is, on average, 28 days. However, for most women it ranges somewhere between 22 and 35 days and can be regular or not. Since menstruation is a consequence of changes that happen before it, we will start our story with the follicular phase.

understanding the phases
02 Menstrual cycle - Follicular phase

During the Follicular phase, the hormone estrogen increases steadily and Leah starts to feel happy, is physically stronger, and is generally on top form. Inside her body, her uterine lining starts to thicken and in the ovaries, her follicles mature. Inside one of them is a tiny cell that’s about to become an egg. At the end of this phase, Leah notices a change in her discharge.

03 Menstrual Cycle - Ovulation phase

During Ovulation the ovary releases the egg, which makes its way towards the uterus and then implants itself inside the lining. For about 5 days, Leah could potentially get pregnant. The high levels of estrogen make Leah more interested in boys than she used to be, which is why she is more conscious about her appearance. Her senses are heightened and she hears, sees, tastes and smells more acutely.

04 Menstrual cycle - Luteal phase

In the Luteal phase, her body temperature rises slightly. Leah has more sensitive, swollen breasts, and occasional joint pain, which makes skateboarding harder. Like just about every other woman, Leah can now experience premenstrual syndrome. If it’s bad, she wants to be alone, feels moody, and can have thoughts that keep her up at night.

menstruation impact
05 Menstrual Cycle - menstruation

If there is no pregnancy, Leah’s uterus sheds her thickened lining. As a result she experiences bleeding and often painful cramps. This marks the first day of menstruation.

Leah is now exhausted. She has trouble concentrating, is not motivated, and can’t do sports, which annoys her a lot. But soon after she starts feeling better and the cycle continues. Every young woman experiences a different version of the menstrual cycle, with periods ranging from little to no discomfort, to heavy bleeding and intense pain. And about 1 in 10 girls will have to deal with what’s known as endometriosis.

06 Menstrual cycle - endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue grows outside the uterus. This can lead to severe and lasting pain during their menses, intercourse, or on the toilet. And eventually it can even lead to infertility. 

what do you think?
07 Menstrual cycle - WDYT

What do you think? How does the menstrual cycle influence your life, or the life of your partner or friend?  And how can society support women and girls who experience regular periods of pain and fatigue? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Dig deeper!

Classroom activity

In this activity, students will learn about the Menstrual Cycle and how hormones affect various aspects of life. 

  • Ask the class what they know about the menstrual cycle 
  • Have girls talk about their own experiences and if they can see changes during their cycle about their mood, concentration, or physical activity
  • Show Sprouts’ video on the Menstrual Cycle to the class
  • Ask students what can be put in place to help those who suffer more from their menses, or to better understand each other.
  • Ask the class what the school could easily implement to make life easier for girls who struggle with their cycle. 


  • Script: Ludovico Saint Amour di Chanaz and Jonas Koblin
  • Artist: Pascal Gaggelli
  • Voice: Matt Abbott
  • Coloring: Nalin
  • Editing: Peera Lertsukittipongsa
  • Production: Selina Bador
  • Sound Design: Miguel Ojeda

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