We always hear people refer to "the talk" in terms of discussing the birds and the bees with their children. However, some parents skip a vital talk with their daughter or they just skirt the issue. If you have a daughter who is getting close to the age of having her very first menstrual period, you may want to take some time and sit down with her. There are many things she will need to know about her menstrual period and you can help her to feel more prepared when the big day does arrive. Communicating with your daughter and letting her know you are there for her can be the difference between a very frightening experience and a well planned, well thought out experience that she will be ready for and understand.
Explaining the Female Reproductive System
This is where many people fall short when they are talking to their daughters about their menstrual periods. While children are taught many of these things in school, chances are the information coming from you will be much more informative and personal. Begin by fully describing what happens to a woman’s body when she menstruates. If you have trouble articulating, there are plenty of books you can use that come complete with illustrations and language that is easy for young girls to understand. Do not hesitate to search the internet for some literature before beginning your "speech". It is vital that your daughter knows not only what to expect but also why it is occurring in the first place. It may be disheartening for you to imagine your daughter of 11 to 13 actually engaging in sexual intercourse but you must remember that it does happen and for that reason you must be sure she is fully aware of what is happening with her body. Young girls often do not realize that the onset of their menstrual period also indicates the time when she is able to become pregnant. It is up to you to make sure that is made clear to her.
How to Know the Big Day Is Coming
There are many telltale signs that your daughter has started her journey into puberty. The first thing that happens just before a girl begins her menstrual period is that she begins to grow pubic hair. Chances are you will know when this occurs, either because she will tell you that she has hair or because you will accidentally glimpse it at some point. Either way, when this occurs you can be sure that her period is following sometime within the next year. At some point during the months just prior to the onset of menstruation your daughter may begin to complain that she is breaking out with acne. When these things happen it is time to start preparing her for what to expect.
Help Her Prepare for Her Period
We have all heard the nightmare stories of young girls who begin their period during school or some other social event and have no idea what to do. Often the result is her hiding out somewhere in a bathroom crying and not knowing what to do. You can help your daughter avoid this by arming her with everything she will need for that first day of her first period. Take her to the store and purchase some sanitary pads that she can keep in a special compartment of her purse just incase. You may also buy her a small pack of feminine wipes so she can clean herself well if there is any mess involved, which there is likely to be.
Tampons VS Pads
There is a decision that you and your daughter will need to make regarding the best form of protection during her period. She may express interest in using tampons and therefore you will need to explain in detail all the pros and cons of using them rather than pads. Tampons are a bit more convenient in that they do not feel bulky and your daughter will be able to participate in many more activities if she is not wearing pads. However, tampons can also be very uncomfortable, especially for a young girl. If she expresses interest in using tampons make sure you explain how they are used and the best method of disposing of them. It is also a good idea to make her aware of the safety risks involved with using tampons as well as how often they should be changed.
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
Toxic Shock Syndrome is a severe bacterial infection that can occur quite suddenly if germs are allowed to breed. While this is a rare occurrence, it is important to understand that it has, in many cases, been related to the use of high absorbency tampons. The symptoms of this illness usually come on rather quickly and include fever, chills, diarrhea, muscle aches and an overall feeling of severe fatigue. The association with TSS and tampons seems to be as a result of tampons providing a moist and warm place in which bacteria can breed. Your daughter must understand that if she is to use tampons, she must be sure and wash her hands properly before and after application and that she should never, under any circumstances use a tampon that has fallen on the floor by accident.
Your daughter may at some point begin to develop signs of PMS – Premenstrual Syndrome. Some of these symptoms may be severe mood swings, depression, crying uncontrollably or just becoming unusually cranky, for lack of a nicer word. If you talk to your daughter about the symptoms of PMS and help her to understand that they normally occur about 7 days prior to the onset of her period, she may be a bit more intoned to what is happening to her during this time. Help her to make a calendar and begin tracking her cycle. Not only will this help her understand when to expect possible symptoms of PMS but it will also help her prepare by carrying protection (pads or tampons) with her around that time. A menstrual period is a natural thing and most girls will do just fine after they have a few periods under their belt. By talking to your daughter about what to expect and guiding her on her journey to womanhood, you will help clear up a lot of confusion and fear she may be feeling.