Although a young girl’s first period can start as early as 9 years old, most teens begin menstruating around the ages of 11 to 13. How do you know when you should start talking to your child about teen menstruation? How do you know when it is early enough, but not too early?
When Will Your Daughter’s First Period Start?
The development of a girl’s breasts is usually an effective way of predicting the start of her menstrual periods. As a girl’s breasts begin to grow, breast buds, or small nodules beneath the nipples begin to show. Approximately two years after this development, her first period will start.
It is up to you to start this conversation since most preteens are far too embarrassed to approach the subject themselves. One conversation is not enough for the volume of information that needs to be covered. In addition to this, limiting the topic to just one talk will mean your girl may be hesitant to ask questions later.
Start by asking her what she already knows. Ask her what she has already heard from her friends. A good option is to start the conversation with health issues since this might be less embarrassing for her. Be sure to answer her questions at her maturity level, and honestly.
Bear in mind during this talk that the subject of menstruation is one of the pieces of the sex talk puzzle. Every girl needs honest information from an adult she knows and trusts. This adult is often the mother.
If she is left with only the information she has received from her friends, she will be led to believe a fair amount of nonsense that she will believe is fact. This is why it is crucial for you to talk to your child early, and to make sure that she gets her questions answered by you rather than her friends.
Start with the biology
It is best to start by giving your child biological explanations first, before you go on to address the information and practical advice she is looking for. Start with the biology.
What is menstruation?
This is the way a girl’s body matures and prepares to get pregnant each month. Every month, an egg matures, and is then released into the fallopian tubes to travel to the uterus.
If pregnancy does not happen, the extra lining that has formed within the uterus is not needed. This lining is then broken down into a mixture of tissue and blood, and leaves the body through the vagina during the menstruation.
What Young Girls Want To Know About Their First Period
The majority of young girls want to know the following about their first period:
- When their period will happen
- What they will need to do when it starts,
- What it will feel like.
Although it is impossible to predict exactly when the first period will occur, it usually happens around two years after the development of breast buds. In the months leading up to the first period, girls may experience a thick white discharge.
Is It Painful?
During the first periods most girls will have cramps, although they are not severe. These cramps are usually felt in the lower abdomen, or in the thighs and lower back, and only last one or two days.
Hot baths, anti-inflammatory drugs, and a hot water bottle are all effective pain relievers that can help to reduce the uterine pain and cramping.
What She Needs To Know About Her First Period
Although it is normal for a girl’s first period to start as late as 15 years old, most girls will feel left out if their friends have started menstruating and they have not. If she is concerned that she may not be normal because she has not started her menstruation yet, reassure her that unless she is 16, it is perfectly normal.
It is also important to make her aware of the normal parameters, for example:
- Periods generally last between 4 and 7 days. Should a period last longer than 10 days, she should see a doctor.
- She may also need to see a doctor if her periods are very heavy (using more than two or three pads every day) or are very painful.
These changes to the body can be scary as well as exciting. A lot of the fear can be reduced through honest and accurate education of what she can really expect.
Allowing for open communication with your daughter will encourage her to ask you more questions. It will also help to ensure that she will come to you in the future with any issues relating to menstruation and sex.
It is very important that you are her source of information rather than friends since you are the one with the correct and reliable answers.
And you can do it!