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I Just Got My Period and I'm Gaining Weight. What's Going On?

I'm 15 and I just started my period. I have noticed that I am gaining weight in many places like my stomach, thighs, and love handles. I weigh about 145 and am 5'10". I run cross country in the fall, play basketball in the winter, do soccer in the spring, and am exercising every day. I also eat pretty wellsometimes I will have some chips or something but I always have wheat bread and eat healthy. So what do I do? Maybe I eat too much? Or is there a good exercise that can help me lose weight?
– Raye*

First, congratulations on your good exercise and eating habits! Based on your height and weight, your body mass index (BMI) is in the "healthy weight" range. So what could be going on?

Getting your period and developing into a woman usually comes with changes in how a girl's body looks and the places where she carries her weight. It's normal to gain weight in the areas you mention. Sometimes, a girl gets love handles and extra weight around the midsection in preparation for a growth spurt. During puberty, body fat increases and is redistributed, especially in the hips and thighs. Weight should stabilize as growth slows and a girl reaches her adult height — usually a couple of years after her first period.

It can be hard adjusting emotionally to a new body — especially one that seems to keep changing — and both guys and girls go through this. But eventually it all balances out and most people feel less out of step and more comfortable with their "new" body.

Since you're not overweight, it's unlikely that you're eating too much — although if you keep gaining weight, you may want to talk to your doctor. Although it's not possible to target one area of your body to lose weight, it won't hurt (and may help!) to do crunches or lunges to tone your stomach and thighs.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: May 2010

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* Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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