Many of us remember back to when we got our first period and wish we were more prepared. While talking about subjects like menstruation or sex can make parents and kids feel uncomfortable, it’s important to provide your child with reliable information, because understanding their bodies will help them make good decisions about their health.

Preparing your child for her first period

If your daughter is approaching her first period, follow this action plan so you’re both ready.

  1. Answer questions and confront concerns. Your daughter may be wondering when she is going to have her period, how long will it last and how to handle it. Let her know that asking questions is okay.
  2. Go over what a period means and what’s happening to her body.
    • Go back to the basics and explain that periods are a normal part of becoming a young woman, and that during her period your daughter’s uterus lining sheds, which involves a bit of blood.
    • Explain that she may not have a lot of blood at first, and that this is a normal part of development and is nothing to be concerned about.
    • Tell her that normal periods occur every 3-5 weeks for 5-10 days but can be more frequent or less frequent and shorter or longer.
    • Explain that cramps/pain are common and that she should use ibuprofen if needed.
  3. Talk about tampons, pads and other products. Prepare your daughter for the variety of things she will need in terms of feminine hygiene products such as sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups and period underwear. Show her videos and be hands-on about how to use the supplies and when and where to discard them. She might also want to use an app to track her period so she knows when the next one is coming.
  4. Make a period kit. Create a little kit with pads and clean underwear. Put it in a pouch that your daughter can keep in her backpack or locker. This will help her feel reassured that she is prepared for when she gets her period.
  5. Check in after her first period. Ask your daughter how she felt. Was she scared? Was she prepared? How was it? Was she able to use all the supplies that she needed to? How can you help her with other logistics she needs?

When should I take my teen to my pediatrician or adolescent health specialist?

You might want to see your provider for the following reasons:

  • If your teen has questions about their sexual health.
  • If your teen is interested in starting contraception (which can also be used to regulate periods, reduce pain from periods and reduce acne).
  • If your teen’s periods are very heavy or painful.
  • If your teen has become sexually active and needs sexually transmitted infection (STI) or HIV screening or treatment.

Resources

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Anisha Abraham Anisha Abraham, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at Children’s National as well as Acting Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Director of the Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program.

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