Okay, maybe not THE talk but an important talk you need to have with your teenager before she gets her period.
It used to be that the talk would happen sometime around 6th grade but girls are getting their period early and the sooner you can prepare them, the better, but how early is too early? On average, a girl will get her period between around age 12 but really, it can happen anywhere from age 10-16. Some sources say age 7 is a good time to start talking to your daughter about her period but its up to you if you think your daughter is mature enough for a talk such as this. The timing of the talk is really individual and how knowing how your daughter is maturing is what matters most.
There are plenty of signs to look for before she gets her period that you can use as a guide to know when to talk with her.
- A girl will get her period about 2 years after her breasts begin to develop.
- Hips and thighs will begin to get a little softer.
- Hair thickens on legs, and becomes visible under arms and in the pubic area.
- Acne starts as the hormones begin to kick in to gear.
- A vaginal discharge can start about 3-12 months prior to mensuration.
- Mood swings can begin to occur
What is the best way to approach the topic? Don’t dump everything she needs to know on her, all at once. Instead, talk often and openly and always be honest. Look for moments when you can begin to discuss her maturity, for example, perhaps you’ll want a special shopping trip to purchase training bras. This is a good opportunity to share information about her changing body and what she can expect. Make sure you give her plenty of time to ask questions or voice concerns.
It’s important to know what your daughter already understands about puberty, health and sex education. Don’t be afraid to ask her. It’s better to set straight any myths or misinformation she may have. Oftentimes, you’ll be surprised to find out her friends have already told her more than maybe you would have preferred.
Getting excited for this new chapter in your daughter’s life? It can be a little nerve-wracking, especially with your first. Once you get started, it really isn’t that hard and the conversation should flow easily. If it just isn’t working out, we are always here to help. You can make an appointment with one of our providers at Madison Women’s Clinic and we can visit with you and your daughter and get the dialogue going.
Once she gets the basic understanding of a period, help her put together a small kit she can use when her period actually does arrive. In addition to pads or tampons, depending on her preference, you may want to include a new pair of underwear, a heating pad to deal with cramps, and some over the counter pain relief. These are things she could keep tucked away in her backpack in case her period starts at school. Once her period starts, there are so many more options than just pads or tampons and you can discuss these as well.
Finally, it is important to let her know these are all normal changes that all women experience. It may be emotionally difficult to see her body changing or even fear of the unknown. Make sure you address the emotional side of maturing as much as you do the physical side. Because this is a natural progression of maturity, any conversation about starting a period should feel normal and natural as well.
You’ve got this mom!