Why is it important to discuss menstruation with tween girls?
Having “the talk” gives parents a lot of anxiety. There are many parenting handbooks on how to discuss puberty and menstruation with girls but they don’t always help. That is because every tween is different and what may work for one girl may not work for another girl. So start the talks small. No need to sit down for the “Big Talk”. Introduce the topic lightly and have smaller talks frequently instead of all at once. There are a lot of changes happening in a girls body during puberty and the onset of their first period. This can be hard for her to understand if one day she starts her period and doesn’t know what is happening. So start the conversation when you see signs of puberty and don’t be afraid to let her ask questions. Although it may be uncomfortable, be honest and open with her. After all, it is a big milestone in every tween girls life.
What are the signs my daughter is going to start her period?
It takes about 2 years of breast development prior to your daughters period. At this time she may or may not need a training bra or bra. Keep in mind that after 2 years of breast development, their breasts most likely will not be fully developed. This change could be exciting for some girls, while others it could make them nervous with all the changes happening on their body.
Pubic Hair and Under arm Hair
You will start to notice that she is developing pubic hair and underarm hair. This process usually starts 6 months prior to her first menses.
Vaginal discharge gives us women a surprising amount of insight about our bodies hormone changes throughout our cycles. Girls will start to notice increased discharge. They may notice that their discharge on their underwear could be yellow or white and can be gooey. This usually occurs 6 months to a year prior to their first period.
How to prepare your daughter for her first period
Start the Discussion
Starting the discussion with your daughter can be awkward and uncomfortable. Afterall, telling your daughter that this occurs every month until menopause and all the symptoms that could come with it, is quite hard to swallow for some. But, as scary as it may seem, start the discussion and start small. Start talking about the menstrual cycle and how it works. Discuss the hormone changes in your body during your cycle. The conversation might be uncomfortable for both of you. However, imagine having your first period and never having had the discussion yourself. Take deep breaths and be honest. It may help to make a list of topics you would like to discuss.
Be there to answer questions and concerns
Let her ask questions. She may have a ton and that’s okay. Always try to answer honestly and take your time. There is no perfect handbook on how to approach this with your daughter. But, maybe you have had periods yourself for a few years and recall how you felt when you went through these changes yourself. Be her safe place because if she’s asking you questions then chances are she’s comfortable coming to you.
Create a First Period Kit
Making a period kit with your daughter could be a helpful bonding experience. This process will not only help guide the discussions, but also open the door for questions and helpful advice for what to expect during her first period.
What to include in her period kit:
- A cute bag to hold her items.
- Face mask that is tailored towards acne relief
- A disposable heating pad
- An extra pair of underwear
- A helpful guide book
- Pads, tampons or period panties.
Pads, Tampons or Period Panties?
This is often a question most parents wonder about for their daughter. Which one is best for their daughter to start out with. Let’s examine the pro’s and con’s of each to better determine which one is best for your daughter to start with during her first period.
Pads are easy to use and discrete. Most pads even come with a multi use wrapper that could be used on the pad you are replacing it with. Simply use the wrapper of your new pad to wrap up the old pad you are throwing away. This not only makes disposal of pads more discrete, it also cuts down on the use of toilet paper or other disposable items you could wrap the pad in. Pads do come with risk, although the risk is less than a tampon, it still exists. Pads aren’t very breathable, therefore could increase the possibility of sweating. When you mix sweating and period blood, it opens the door for bacteria and infections to grow. Also, pads are meant to be changed before they fill up. About every 4 to 8 hours max. Pads do come in a variety of sizes and scents to better suit your preference.
Tampons run the biggest risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome. (TTS). Toxic shock syndrome is a substance that develops from different kinds of bacteria. Tampons also increase the risk of cancer, although that would be more rare. Some tampons contain toxic chemicals or even bleach. Be sure to check the packaging for complete ingredients. If tampons are used correctly they can be a fairly safe alternative to pads. You do need to change tampons every 4 to 6 hours.
Period panties are as easy as it gets. No need for messy pads that are uncomfortable and shift while wearing. They pose no health risk and they are the most discrete of all. Period panties come in a variety of thickness to accommodate your period flow. Some period panties can hold up to 4 regular tampons on heavy flow, 3 regular tampons on moderate flow, and 1 tampon on light flow. Period panties contain no toxic chemicals either. They come in a variety of designs from hipsters, briefs and even thongs. They reduce odor and help with sweat as well. They are also breathable and easy to wear. Period panties are also safe to wear when you need that extra protection at the gym with sweating, or light bladder leaks. They are also reusable which cuts down on waste. An easy discrete investment for your daughter to have on hand every month. No need for a late night trip to the store.