OK dads, we get it - period chat isn’t your area, nor your cup of tea. But if you have a daughter approaching “that” age it’s pretty necessary, whether mum is around or not. In fact, a survey found only 41% of dads feel comfortable talking about periods with their daughters, and almost 50% have never talked about them - we’d love to see this changing.
Even if you didn’t learn about periods in school, it’s never too late to brush up on your knowledge and make sure your daughter knows everything she needs to at this crucial stage in life. Here’s your guide to talking about periods with the young women in your life.
Rusty on what you learned in biology class? Time to revise. Don’t worry, your daughter won’t test your knowledge so you don’t need to know everything, but understand the basics - why it happens, what’s going on inside, and how to manage it - to put her at ease if she has questions. Here’s a quick summary, followed by some helpful links with more resources:
Roughly every 28 days, an egg is released from the ovary, and travels down the fallopian tube (this happens in the ‘ovulation’ phase). When it reaches the uterus, it attaches and prepares to be fertilised. If no sperm show up to do this (you’re probably hoping they don’t until she’s in her 30s!) the uterus sheds its inner lining (the ‘menstruation’ phase) and this is the blood that comes out each month. Ta-dah... period!
It’s impossible to predict exactly when she’ll get her first period, but she’ll start to hear things at school, so we reckon it’s best to mention it a few years before it’s due. Girls typically get their period anytime from age 12, but there are often early puberty signs that she’s approaching her period. Some that dads may recognise are hair on her legs or underarms, which means it’s time to start dropping periods into conversation.
Geez, dad, don’t make it a thing! The best way to avoid embarrassment is to swap big sit-down discussions for more frequent, casual mentions. Periods should be a topic of conversation in daily life, like at the dinner table or when something relevant comes on TV. Remember, a seemingly innocent, off-the-cuff comment can shape a young person’s view of their body for years to come, so how you react to period-related chat in your house matters.
Even if you feel uncomfortable, avoid passing the conversation off to someone else, saying “eww” in response to mentions of blood, tampons, etc., or leaving the room when it comes up. Things like this make periods seem like an embarrassing, shameful thing to keep to yourself, which can be damaging. Ensure there are no limits in your house so your daughter never feels ashamed of what’s happening to her body.
While we’re on the topic, make sure everyone can get involved in the conversation. That means younger siblings and brothers too. If this makes her feel uncomfortable and she asks you not to, definitely respect her wishes, but in general it can help normalise periods and ensure no one feels embarrassed by their changing body.
This can also be positive for boys, as it teaches them to show respect to their friends with periods, and not make inappropriate comments.
No, not a toolbox full of tampons, although we like where your head’s at! Getting your period at school can be stressful, so making sure your daughter has everything she needs to feel comfortable and confident will really help. Find out what products she prefers and always have them in stock, with things like pain killers for cramps, and whatever else she asks for.
Hate the idea of buying tampons in the supermarket? Doing this confidently is another way to show your daughter it’s no big deal, and nothing to be ashamed of. (But if you reeeally hate it, Yoppie delivers personalised period care straight to your door. Job’s a good’un.)
Time to learn your daughter’s favourite type of chocolate and fill the hot water bottle! Be sensitive to PMS symptoms that come with periods, like mood swings, belly cramps, headaches and more. These can be mild for some and intense for others.
Check in with how she’s feeling so you can do your best to help, and talk openly about symptoms like anxiety and depression to reassure her. If these symptoms seem worse than they should be, a visit to your GP could help.
You're past the first period… phewf! It’s not over yet though. Your daughter’s periods will change throughout her life, so make sure she feels comfortable bringing it up again in future if, for example, she has questions, has symptoms that need to be checked, chooses to go on birth control (whether for sex or to help manage heavy or irregular periods) - these are all conversations you may need to have down the line.
Keep educating yourself, keep checking in with your daughter, and keep the communication lines entirely open from here on out. That’s what super-dads do.
Are you struggling to bring up periods with your daughter? Our Full Stop blog has a range of topics for teens, so you can share any of the posts with her, or reach out to us on Instagram with any questions you have @itsyoppie. We’ll do our best to get you the answers you need. Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, which is a great way to help your family normalise period care as just something else that comes through the post. Winner!
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