Having your first period can be a piece of cake for some, and pretty traumatic for others. If you are a parent wondering about the best way to help during this awkward time, the answer isn’t hard - talk to them!
Whether your daughter has worries about the pain involved, how to handle period maintenance or the likelihood of humiliating leaks, you can put her mind at ease with a simple chat (the non-embarrassing kind). Here’s our Yoppie guide...
If you remember when you got your first period, then your daughter may experience hers for the first time at a similar age. Or she might not. It’s all OK! Most girls start their period at age 12-13, but it could come a little earlier or later.
It tends to happen around two years after breasts begin to develop, and other physical signs of puberty that could signal an oncoming period are acne, breast tenderness, fatigue, and most notably, clear or white vaginal discharge. Of course some girls aren’t going to share that information with Mum, but it’s good to be aware of in case she asks!
If your daughter is worried that her period hasn’t started yet, you can tell her that more often than not that’s completely fine. If she still hasn’t had her period by around age 14 you might want to book in an appointment with your GP just to make sure everything is A-OK.
You don’t want a Carrie situation on your hands! We’re guessing that the last thing any teenage girl wants is to bleed from her vagina, but at least if she knows it’s coming she can avoid the embarrassment of freaking out about it in class.
Start talking about periods openly in the house (that means in front of Dad and brothers, too!) so there’s no weirdness, and she doesn’t feel any reason to hide it when it comes. This doesn’t need to be a sit-down PowerPoint presentation (chill out, Mum!), as it could be met with embarrassment or annoyance.
Instead, take it a step at a time; start by answering any questions she brings up herself. Then ask what she knows about it, because she may already have clued herself up. Next you can clarify any misinformation, and share your own experience if she’s curious.
One of the best things to include in your period chat is WHY it’s happening, and what’s going on inside her body. Don’t worry about revising a full, in-depth biology lesson, just an overview of the process. If you want to brush up on some things, the Full Stop blog (right here!) has all the info you need on the hormone side of things, but here’s a quick overview:
When menstruation begins it means her body is physically capable of becoming pregnant - and FYI, it is possible for her to become pregnant even before her first period because her hormones could already be active, so having the birds and the bees talk early is always a good idea!
When her estrogen levels rise, the lining of the uterus thickens to support the implanting of an egg. Meanwhile, an egg in one of the ovaries has already started to mature, and at around day 14 (average 28-day cycle), it leaves the ovary and makes its way down the fallopian tube to the uterus. If the egg is fertilized by a sperm cell and attaches to the wall of the uterus, a pregnancy can occur. If not, the unfertilized egg breaks apart and the lining of the uterus is shed, and comes out of the vagina in the form of blood.
In the history books, there are all sorts of negative ways that periods have been described over the years *ahem… whose idea was ‘the curse?' - and even now we tend to mask talk of periods by saying things like ‘time of the month’, ‘Aunt Flo’, and even funny euphemisms like ‘shark week’. That’s all fine, as long as she knows that periods can also be talked about openly and honestly, too, and they’re not all bad.
Think about the language you use when discussing periods in front of her, and try not to be too negative about them. Sure, moaning about your PMS symptoms is normal, but to create a positive atmosphere, balance it out by making sure she knows that periods can be a good thing later in life because they give her the opportunity to have a baby if she chooses to.
It may seem like an obvious one when you’ve experienced periods for years, but that’s exactly why it’s often overlooked. You may not know it, but she could be worrying about the pain involved in having a period, so it’s worth talking about it and letting her know that although PMS symptoms like cramps, headaches and breast tenderness can be uncomfortable, her period likely won’t be very painful. If it is, it’s time to take her to see a GP who can check everything is OK and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Let her know what to expect in advance, and if she’s worried, put her mind at ease by sharing your own experiences and how you ease the discomfort - light exercise, warm baths, a hot water bottle, or in the worst cases pain killers, can all help. Make it an excuse for a girls’ night and get the chocolate out.
For many young girls experiencing their first period, management is the biggest concern. When you’ve been doing it for a while, it comes naturally and you barely think about it, but take yourself back to before you had a period, and imagine factoring a brand new menstrual routine into an already hectic school day - stressful!
Many girls worry about bleeding through their clothes, or anyone else knowing they are on their period, and it’s an understandable concern when you’re not used to managing it along with everything else. If you can roughly predict when she’s likely to get her first period, you can work together to create a period kit that will address all of her concerns and help her feel confident going to school.
Add things like tampons, towels and liners (tools for every eventuality!), a change of underwear (just in case), pain killers, wipes, and recyclable plastic bags to store any used items she can’t get rid of in school. Make it fun by choosing a cute and discreet pouch to carry it all in, pick out some fun spare underwear, and so on. Get creative!
Do you have questions about talking to your daughter about her period? Shout out in our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. 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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