Parents or older siblings may find it kind of embarrassing to talk with teenage girls about menstruation at home. This is especially true for male parents and elder brothers. Mothers and elder sisters will find it less embarrassing to open up such discussions because they understand it better by their own personal experience of menstruating. In the same way, some teenage girls may also have a hard time opening up to their parents or older siblings with questions or concerns about their menstruation because they feel embarrassed.
As a parent or older sibling, you want to make sure that your teenager feels comfortable to share her experiences with you including when she starts seeing her period. That way, you can be able to help her understand better the changes going on in her body and allay any fears she may be having as she continues growing into womanhood.
You don’t have to also wait for her to come to you with her questions or concerns about menstruation. Find the best means to bring up such discussions with her when you suspect she might have started seeing her first period. Sometimes, casually bring up such topics even before your child begins her first menstruation. It will help to prepare her ahead of time for that novel experience.
Best Tips for Talking To Teenagers About Menstruation
Parenting children involves a lot of educating. Kids generally love to learn about things from their parents and older siblings, so it’s better you educate them yourself than for them to go and learn the wrong things from other sources. The trouble for some is that there are still several cultural and religious beliefs that prohibit women from talking about menstruation. This leaves many young girls confused on what to do and how to respond to their menstrual periods. In addition, many uninformed teenage girls who are sexually active end up becoming pregnant because they were not enlightened that menstruation for a girl means she is able to get pregnant.
When you don’t open up to young girls early enough about menstruation, they may find it very difficult to practice healthy menstrual hygiene when their periods begin. And when they come up to you with concerns or questions about menstrual periods, don’t be quick to hush and dismiss them. Use the opportunity to educate them properly on what they need to know in the best way you think they can understand.
If you feel awkward talking to your teenager about menstrual period, look for good books or videos on puberty and adolescence that can help foster a more comfortable educational conversation between the both of you. Clarify any questions she might still be having as you read the book or watch the video together. There is no need to exhaust every discussion in one sitting. It is actually more effective when you spread your discussions on different occasions, educating her bit by bit at the level she is able to understand.
Today, most schools incorporate health lessons and sex education for teenagers in the school curriculum. You can try to find out from your child’s teacher about his or her plans or any advice in that regard and feel free to ask your child what she has learned about menstruation from school. Coordinate your conversations with the health lessons and sex education your child receives in school.
Sometimes you may need to go learn more and improve your understanding of the menstrual cycle to enable you provide accurate answers during your conversations with your teenage daughter. You can also speak to your family doctor on ways to talk about menstruation and puberty. Before you take your preteen daughter for a routine checkup, let her know that the doctor may ask if she’s gotten her period yet. You can then ask if she has any concerns or questions about getting her first period.
If you hear your child mention something related to getting a period, try to spur a conversation by asking where the information came from. Questions can be a great way to set the record straight on any misconceptions kids might have.
Common Questions Teenage Girls Might Ask About Menstruation
We have compiled a set of questions from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Rady Children’s Hospital and Mayo Clinic that expresses what preteens and teenagers may likely want to know about menstruation.
What is a menstrual period? – Explain that some hormones in the body prepare a girl’s body each month for a possible pregnancy. This is called the menstrual cycle. It happens when the ovaries releases an egg during ovulation and the egg moves down one of the two fallopian tubes toward the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized with a man’s sperm, pregnancy does not occur. The lining of the uterus then breaks down and flows out of the body through your vagina. The release of blood and tissue from the lining of your uterus is what is referred to as menstrual period.
When will I get my first menstrual period? – No one can tell exactly when a first period will occur. Typically, however, menstruation begins about two years after breasts begin to develop. Most girls start their periods between the ages of 12 years and 13 years, but some start earlier or later.
- How long does it last? – The first few periods will likely be light with only a few spots of blood occurring. Most periods last from three to five days, but anywhere from two to seven days is normal.
- How much blood is there? – Periods can be light, moderate, or heavy, and there can be a total of 2-4 tablespoons (30-59 milliliters) of blood. And this can vary from period to period in the same girl.
- Does it hurt? – Common symptoms include cramps in the lower abdomen or back or breast tenderness just before and during periods. Headaches, dizziness, nausea and diarrhea also are possible. Exercise, warm baths, a heating pad or an over-the-counter pain reliever can help ease discomfort.
- What should I do? – Explain how to use sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups and the importance of changing them regularly — every four to eight hours for pads and tampons and every eight to 12 hours for menstrual cups. Stock the bathroom with various types of sanitary products ahead of time. Encourage your child to experiment to find the product that works best.
- Will everyone know that I have my period? – Explain that pads, tampons and menstrual cups aren’t visible through clothing. Encourage your child to carry supplies in a backpack, purse or locker — just in case.
- How come only girls have periods? – Explain that boys change in different ways during puberty, like the deepening of their voices and the growth of facial hair. Getting her period means a girl can have a baby. Periods happen because of changes in the uterus — a body part that girls have but boys do not.
- Do girls have their periods for the rest of their lives? – No, a woman stops having her period usually between the ages of 45 and 51, which means she will no longer be able to become pregnant.
- Do girls have to stop playing sports or swimming while they have their periods? – Girls should understand they can do everything they normally would do — as long as they’re comfortable. For example, girls may choose to wear a tampon so they can continue to swim while menstruating.
- Do girls always have cramps with their periods? – Concern about cramps is a big issue for some girls. While most girls eventually have some cramps, many do not for the first year or two of getting their periods. It’s important to tell girls that cramps usually only last a few days. Sometimes, a hot water bottle or a hot bath can help ease discomfort.
- Do girls need to douche or use deodorant spray when they have their periods? – No. In fact, douching can increase a girl’s possibility of infection by disrupting the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina.