Talking To Your Daughter About Her Period

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How do I talk to my daughter about periods?

A good time to begin talking to your daughter about periods is long before she begins her own, but it's never too late! Most girls start menstruating between the ages of 9 and 16, with the average being 12-13 years old.

If your daughter asks questions about menstruation, try to answer them or suggest that you look up the answer together. If she doesn't ask questions, you can try bringing up the topic by:

  • Talking about your own experiences.
  • Asking about what she's learning in her health class.
  • Asking what she's heard from friends.

If your daughter is hesitant to talk, you can take the first step by leaving an informative book somewhere she can find to read on her own.

How can I help her feel good about starting her period?

Try to be positive: the idea that menstruation is a “curse” or something to dread is common in our society. You can help your daughter by:

  • Talking about menstruation as a normal bodily function.
  • Remembering that her body will not necessarily behave like yours (if your own periods have been difficult, it's okay to say so).
  • Talking about and correcting myths and stereotypes she may have heard from friends or movies.
  • Teaching the men and boys in your family about this normal growing process.
  • Giving the men and boys in your family examples of respectful behaviour towards menstruating young women.

What other kinds of things does my daughter need to know about periods?

Girls often have many concerns about menstruation ranging from the "management" of their periods, to how this is going to change them and the way people relate to them. You can help your daughter by talking about:

  • how to track her menstrual cycle so she'll know when to expect a period;
  • how to deal with her menstrual flow, from pads to tampons and other options which are earth- and body-friendly, including all-cotton and/or organic tampons and pads, washable pads, and a rubber washable "cup" which fits inside the vagina – have some supplies on hand before she gets her first period, but also respect your daughter's choices for what she wants to use;
  • how to properly use and dispose of pads or tampons;
  • how to find and buy her own supplies at school or while she's out; and
  • how to prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

This is also a good time to reassure her that she will be able to maintain her interests after she starts her period (in sports, for instance).

How can I help my daughter celebrate this important event?

You may want to find a way to mark the beginning of menstruation to recognise and celebrate this rite of passage your daughter's life. Almost every woman remembers how she got her first period. This is a good opportunity to create a positive memory for your daughter.

Ways of doing this could be as simple as:

  • Writing her a letter.
  • Offering her an activity of her choice.
  • Taking her out for lunch.

It can be very helpful to discuss what this milestone means for your daughter as she is growing into a woman. Try to be open to many different conversations about her changing body and the emotions that go with these changes. If she knows you are available to her - even if it makes either of you slightly uncomfortable - she will be able to come to you with other important questions.

If she has other valued women in her life, you might encourage her to talk with them as well.

Where can I go for more information?

Revised June 2006.