Can babies menstruate?

Infant metrorrhagia, more commonly known as "infant menstruation", is characterized by bleeding after birth.

What is metrorrhagia in infants?

Although we often talk about the first periods of adolescence, they also affect babies. Infant metrorrhagia, more commonly known as "baby's period", is characterized by bleeding that occurs at birth. It's a rather weak discharge of blood from the vagina during the first week after birth. The bleeding is light, and may resemble menstruation.

Why do babies menstruate?

This light bleeding is actually caused by the secretion of sex hormones in little girls: estrogen. It can be described as a "mini-puberty" that occurs under the activation of the hormonal axis, which goes dormant until puberty is triggered in adolescence.

The metrorrhagia is part of a more global phenomenon known as the genital crisis of the newborn. It can occur in both boys and girls. It manifests itself in several ways: An increase in breast size (they may become red and swollen, with a milky, whitish fluid draining from them). Don't worry: most of the time, this swelling disappears quickly after birth.

Newborn genital crisis can also manifest itself directly on the external genitalia, with an increase in the volume of the vulvar lips, congestion of the vulva and even small vaginal discharge in girls, an increase in the size of the penis, bursa and testicles in boys. Your baby may also develop a small acne flare-up. All these elements are in fact like a mini-puberty.

What to do if your baby starts menstruating?

There's nothing special to do in the case of metrorrhagia. Continue hygiene with mild soap and water.

Good to know: Your baby may be having breakthrough bleeding without you even noticing, as the discharge is so light!

If the discharge persists over the long term and doesn't disappear after a few days, consult your midwife or paediatrician, who will be able to advise you.

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