In today’s screen-based world, there are plenty of places a girl could hear about getting her period, aside from her mother. The internet is rife with information. Her school might bring in a nurse or other professional to talk to the students. Her friends will probably have heard or read things and be eager to share.
And, let’s face it, the getting-your-period conversation can be a little awkward for moms. It might be easier to have her find out about it a different way. You can always fill in information gaps if she asks.
Be Your Daughter’s Go-To Resource
Who do you want your daughter to turn to when she needs advice about the tough stuff in life? Health issues, career choices, love, sex, substances, peer pressure… and the list goes on.
Most of us would want our daughters to view US (the moms) as the source of reliable, on-target information and advice. That perspective, however, is not built in a day – and as your daughter gets older (tween alert!) and hits the brink of adolescence, it’s harder to build this perspective.
You need to start when she’s young – when she looks up to you and turns to you as her natural resource, before the teenage mentality sinks in. These are the opportunities. The time is now.
What should I tell my daughter about getting her period?
Start with the biological facts and the wonder of the female body:
“When you get to be about 12 – but it could be earlier or later – your body starts getting ready for being a woman – and a mother. There’s a part of your body, beneath your stomach, called the uterus – that’s where a baby grows inside a mother. You grew there! It was a very warm, inviting home for you and gave you all the nourishment you needed. Every month, the blood vessels in your uterus get thicker, so that if a baby would start growing there, the blood vessels would help bring the baby all the food and oxygen it needed, right from your body.
“But if there’s no baby, then your uterus doesn’t need the blood, and it sends it out through your vagina. It takes a few days for the blood to finish coming out, and so you wear these pads right here so that your underwear doesn’t get all messy.”
If your daughter is a few years away from getting a period, you can leave it at that. The idea here is to answer questions at the level she can understand at the time. If she’s closer to her period, say, she’s 10 or 11, find an opportunity to tell her about variation in amount of blood and accompanying potential cramping:
“Usually it starts out as a heavier blood flow (enough that over 2 to 4 hours the pad would be saturated) and then over the next few days, becomes less and less. Exactly how much comes out at a time and how long it takes to finish is different for each girl. You’ll get to know your body and its patterns.
It is important that you explain to her how much flow is “too much” because unusually heavy periods could indicate an underlying issue, prompting a required consultation by the gynecologist
You can continue, “It doesn’t necessarily hurt. There can be cramps because the muscles of the uterus are squeezing to help get the blood out. You might have pain or pressure in your stomach, or in your back or thighs. Again, each woman is different, and you’ll learn about what your body does. It’s a great opportunity to become more familiar with your body and its rhythms.”
The importance of knowing your body
The points about knowing your body and its patterns are extremely important for female health as your daughter gets older.
If she is bleeding heavily at any age, she needs to consult her doctor. It could be nothing – or it could be a sign of something that needs to be or could be treated, like uterine fibroids or endometriosis. Our Symptom Checker is an excellent way to get information prior to a doctor visit.
The concept of knowing your body’s patterns when it comes to periods is often overlooked, but is critical for your daughter’s health. In addition, it’s wise to encourage her to acquire the habit of getting regular checks at her gynecologist… even if everything seems healthy.
Raising a growing daughter is often intimidating… and exciting. We wish you the best of luck: opportunities to share with your daughter, the ability to take advantage of the opportunities when they come, and the wisdom to share the things that will set your daughter on the right path for the future.