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Home / Parenting

How to prepare your daughter for her first period

 Photo:Courtesy

No matter how well you prepare your teen for pubertal changes, their first period is an experience like no other. It marks a critical milestone in the transition to adulthood, and into reproduction potential. Preparing your teen for pubertal changes will keep them ready for the physical changes that will be inevitable as they mature.

Most girls will start having periods between the ages of 12 and 14 years, but some may start earlier or later. You want to have had a conversation with your girl about periods well before this age. Start by explaining to them what a period is.

It doesn't have to be complex and detailed. Simply tell them about maturation of hormonal control, which leads to pubertal changes. They should appreciate in simple terms about the function of the ovaries, tubes, uterus (womb) and the vagina. Your task shouldn't be too difficult, they would already have had some human biology lessons in school by now.

Once your teen understands what a period is, they will want to know how long periods last, and how often they come. The first periods tend to be very light, and only last a few days. There may only be a few spots of reddish brown blood.

As time goes, the periods will last anywhere between two to seven days, let them know that this is normal. An interval between periods of 21 to 45 days is normal, and is referred to as the menstrual cycle. However let your teen know that it may take up to six years or more for their menstrual cycles to become regular and predictable.

Next, you need to introduce your teen to personal sanitary products available for use during menstruation. Remember this is new territory for them, they need everything spelt out. Tell them about pads, tampons and menstrual cups. It helps to demonstrate how to wear pads inside their underwear.

Tampon use may be more difficult to demonstrate, but as their confidence grows, they will graduate into using them as well. Help them select a suitable pad or tampon that suits their menstrual flow pattern. Don't forget to remind them how often to change pads and tampons. Every four to eight hours is safe, or when a feeling of fullness, wetness or discomfort arises.

The first periods tend to have common symptoms. Menstrual cramps, irregular and heavy bleeding tend to occur in many teens. Reassure your teen that such symptoms tend to settle with time. Simple painkillers will ease the cramps. Get them to be seen by a gynaecologist if pain is out of proportion, or if their bleeding is heavy enough to require frequent change of pads or lasts longer than seven days.

Be a step ahead and prepare your teen for pubertal changes. The more they understand, the better they will adjust to inevitable changes in their reproductive system.

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