Starting her period is an important milestone in your daughter’s life. But although you may have seen signs that she is in puberty, her first period may still come as a bit of a surprise. She may be a little scared or embarrassed. As a parent, how do you help your daughter at this crucial time?
Here are 4 things to discuss with your daughter to ease her fears and prepare her for this new stage in her life.
4 things to discuss with your daughter about her periods
1. Explain what’s going on in her body
Explain to your daughter that these body changes are completely normal. There is no shame or embarrassment in getting periods or occasionally staining her underwear.
The menstrual cycle is a period of 21-45 days in which the uterus and ovaries respond to the changing levels of circulating hormones. In each cycle, an egg is released, and it’s important for your daughter to understand that if the egg meets a sperm through sexual intercourse, it can develop a baby. This means she can become pregnant if she is sexually active and not using any contraception.
If the egg is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus is shed through the vagina and gets expelled. This is what she experiences each period when blood and tissue leave her body.
2. Tell her how often to expect a period
Let your daughter know often to expect her period. The first day of her period to the first day of their next period forms one menstrual cycle. This can be anywhere between 21-45 days, though for most girls it’s 25-35 days.
In the first 6 years after getting her first period, your daughter may experience irregular periods. Let her know that it is perfectly fine, and that eventually her cycle will become more regular.
3. Discuss the practical aspects of having a period
Discussing the practical aspects of having a period can help your daughter feel a lot more comfortable about the details. You can explain:
- How much bleeding there may be each month.
- Whether the bleeding is painful
- What she can use (pads, tampons, period-proof underpants, or menstrual cups), how use these things, and how often to change them
- Whether she can carry on with her regular activities during her periods
Though your daughter can select which type of sanitary napkin she is comfortable using, pads and period-proof pants are usually easier to start with. If she does use tampons, make sure she understands both the proper way to insert a tampon and that she shouldn’t keep it inside for more than 4 hours at a time.
4. Explain period symptoms and pain
- Place a hot water bag/bottle on her lower abdomen for a few minutes
- Eat smaller, frequent meals throughout the day
- Rest on her side with her knees bent
- Lightly massage her lower abdomen
- Have warm drinks, such as warm milk, and lots of water
- Take a pain medication, such as acetaminophen
There are also books available on the market you can give your daughter that explain the concept of a period and expected bodily changes in a way your daughter will understand.
When to see a doctor
Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician or endocrinologist if your daughter:
- Has not gotten a period for 6 months. A doctor may try to rule out whether there are any medical issues responsible for the huge gap in periods.
- Suffers from excruciating pain or other symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting, during her periods. Hormonal treatments may be recommended
- Experiences extreme mood changes or depression that disrupt her daily life. A doctor may suggest visiting a mental health therapist to help your daughter learn coping strategies to deal with the problem.
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