Most girls get their first period when they are 12 or 13. Some get it before (as early as 8- read more on early puberty here) and some get it after (as late as 16).
No matter when your girl gets it, she is sure to have questions about it a long time before. This is because either one of her friends in the school has got it already or her friends are talking a lot about this impending change in their life. She might have attended a sex-education session in her school recently. Whether she comes forward to you with those questions entirely depends on the comfort level your daughter has with you. In fact, even if you are best of friends with your daughter, she might find it a tad too embarrassing to discuss menstruation with you. This is why it is all the more important for you to broach the topic, much earlier in the pre-teens even if your daughter expresses no doubts or anxiety about it.
It might be a difficult talk for you too – but remember that if you do not give her factually correct information, she will rely on her friend’s potentially incorrect views and information on the subject. This could change (and hamper) the way she views periods and her body as a whole. So how do you do it? We are here to help. Let us approach this issue on two fronts:
- How to talk, and
- What to talk
How To Talk About Periods And Menstruation To Your Daughter?
- Have the conversation earlier than later: Kids form perspectives pretty quickly. So the earlier you introduce the topic in your daughter’s life the better
- Spread out the discussion: If you sit down to discuss the entire science behind periods in a single sitting, the information can be overwhelming for your girl. The best approach is to have a continuous discussion often
- Let her talk first: You could start by asking her what and how much she knows about puberty. Make it very comforting for her to talk. For instance, if the tone of your voice is not right, she might end up thinking she might be reprimanded for knowing anything about periods!
- Time it right: Find out if female reproductive organs is part of the syllabus for her. If yes, that is a great time to start having the conversation. Many schools these days hold mentoring classes on menstruation, so that can also be advantageous to you
- Share your experience: A great way to make it personal is to talk about your experience. You could even share the concerns and fears you had at that time and how you overcame them
- Explain to her how every girl is different: She might be worried about not getting periods if everyone else in her gang has got it already. Or she might be embarrassed about getting it before her friends. Put all those worries and fears to rest and explain to her that every girl’s body is different and eventually everyone will get it
- Address other fears: She might be worried or afraid about a number of things. Encourage her to ask you questions. Answer them as directly as possible. We have covered some of the most common concerns in the next section
Now that you have a basic idea about how to bring up this topic and discuss it with your daughter, let us look at:
What To Talk About Periods To Your Daughter?
This is a tricky area. You want to provide scientific information to educate your daughter. But your daughter might not be concerned about the science behind it at all. Her questions might be more to do with bleeding or staining. So we are covering this section in a Q&A format.
- What is menstruation?: You know that only girls or women can have babies, right? Menstruation is a way your body prepares to have a baby or get pregnant. Your body has a uterus and 2 ovaries that are on the top left and top right of the uterus (Show a picture here to illustrate). When you are old enough, the ovaries will release one egg each per month. (For older kids, you can say that this process is called ovulation). This release of egg triggers a number of hormonal changes which leads to your uterus becoming thicker. The uterus becomes thicker by creating a lining of blood vessels and tissues. Now, if the egg is not fertilized – as it won’t be until you are an adult and get a partner – the body will understand that you are not going to get pregnant, so it will shed the egg and the uterus lining through your vagina. This “shedding” is called periods
- Will periods hurt?: Yes, for some girls it can hurt a lot. And for some it might not hurt at all. There is nothing to worry in both cases. If it does hurt, you will feel the pain in lower tummy and back. This also acts as an indication that you are about to get periods, so you can be prepared. Also, the hurting does not last forever. It will subside in few hours most often
- How long will it the bleeding last?: It can last 5 to 7 days. But after the initial 2-3 days, the bleeding will be very less
- What do I do during this time?: When it happens, mumma will teach you how to use a sanitary napkin. It can be attached to your panties and it will absorb the blood that comes out of your vagina. You will need to change the pad every 4-8 hours, more often during the initial days when the bleeding is more. Do not worry. Mumma will help you with it in the initial months. You will get a hang of it soon
- What if I get my first periods in school?: You could tell your teacher that you think you have got periods for the first time and you need to come home. There is absolutely no shame associated with it. But since it is the first time, mumma wants to be with you while we deal with the bleeding together. However, once you have got your first periods, then you can carry a pad with you in the bag at all times. So if you get a subsequent period in school, you can just go wear the pad in the wash room yourself
- Can others figure out I have got periods?: No, not unless you tell them. The pads are small and not visible outside your clothes
- But what if I stain my clothes?: You could try washing just that spot with a bit of soap from the wash-room. That might help it fade a little and make it look just like a dirt mark. And since you would be mostly sitting in the class, the water mark also might not visible. But if you have to move about you could may be tie your jacket around your skirt. It will look stylish and no one will spot the stain!
Periods are not the only important matter you should discuss with your girl in her pre-teens. Read about 15 Things I Want To Tell My Daughter Before She Hits Teenage here.