Most girls have their first menstruation (menarche) at 12, but some experience it earlier or later. What things should you discuss before or once your daughter’s first period starts?
The “best time” to talk about periods
Pre-teen girls are usually shy, so finding the best time to talk about menstruation is tricky. As a parent, the goal is to prepare them for when their first period starts, so that they will not panic or get scared.
But, when is the best time to discuss menstruation with your daughter?
Experts recommend having an on-going conversation instead of just one lecture-type discussion. Sitting them down to talk about monthly periods may make them feel tense, so try to slip in pieces of necessary information whenever the opportunity arises.
When their menarche happens, you can explain specific things like tracking their period and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Cover the basics first
Before your daughter’s first period, you can discuss the basics during opportune times.
For instance, casually talk about periods when you come across an advertisement about dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).
Generally, basic information includes:
1. How do they know when their period is going to start?
Inform them that it may happen after they have grown underarm and pubic hair. Additionally, menstruation may start 2 years after their breasts start growing.
2. Will it be painful?
You can tell them that they may feel some cramps. Afterward, assure them that there are measures to reduce the cramps, like applying a warm compress or taking medications.
Highlight that extreme pain is unusual, so they need to inform you right away if the pain becomes excessive.
3. How much blood will they lose?
Comfort them by saying that it may look like a lot when they bleed, but generally, they are losing just about 3 to 5 ml of blood (around a teaspoon or so).
4. How long will it last?
Explain that it’s different for every girl, but generally, bleeding may last anywhere from 3 to 7 days.
5. What to do if they get their period away from home.
Ease their worries by saying that they can keep an extra pair of undergarments and sanitary pads or tampons in their bag. Don’t forget to give instructions on what they need to do if ever.
Covering the basic information early on is crucial so that your daughter won’t worry and can recognize “warning signs” when the time comes. For instance, they’ll know that they shouldn’t bleed a lot or for more than 7 days.
Transition to a more detailed explanation
After covering the basics, you can move on to a more detailed explanation of specific topics.
Please note that you can start explaining the following topics before your daughter’s first period. Likewise, you can sit them down for discussion once they have their first menstruation.
1. Keeping track of their period:
Talk to them about the menstrual cycle, which pertains to the days between the first day of their periods.
Inform them that girls have different cycles, but the most common is 28 days. In this discussion, you can also tell them about regular and irregular menstruation.
Finally, emphasize that tracking their period is an essential part of monitoring their health.
2. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
So that your child will not be surprised that menstruation comes with other symptoms, let them know about accompanying signs (premenstrual syndrome) like bloating, acne breakouts, cramps, sore breasts, tiredness, and mood swings.
3. Activities during the monthly period
Before, or once your daughter’s first period starts, reassure them that there’s no restriction in her activities in most cases. She can exercise and even play sports.
If she worries about swimming, let them know that it’s still possible, but she might want to wear tampons, instead of sanitary pads. This is an option available, only is she is comfortable with it.
4. Use of feminine care products:
When you discuss menstruation with your daughter, they might ask you if they need to use feminine wash during their period. Tell them that the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and feminine products, especially those with fragrance and harsh chemicals, can do more harm than good.
When opening up topics regarding your daughter’s first period, remember to be natural.
If they feel that you’re awkward or embarrassed, they might mirror your reaction and refrain from asking further questions. Also, use the correct names of organs when discussing menstruation, like vagina, ovaries, or egg cells.
In cases when you don’t know the answer to their question, let them know that you’ll get back to them with the correct information. You may also consult a doctor for further advice.
Learn more about Adolescence Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.