Talking to your daughter about puberty should happen long before her first period. Most girls have their first period around 12, although it can range from 8 to 15 years old. Preparing your daughter with information can ease her discomfort and alleviate apprehensions or fears she may have about becoming a woman. Plan on discussing her menstrual cycle with her over a series of shorter conversations, rather than overwhelming her with too much information all at once.
Start discussing your daughter’s body with her as early as she’s interested, and give her as much information as you feel she can handle. For example, if your 6-year-old girl asks why you’re buying pads or tampons, explain that a woman has a monthly period when these items are necessary.
Show your daughter a chart of a woman’s reproductive organs. Explain how the ovaries and uterus work together to produce hormones and get her body ready to carry a child. Use the chart to explain how the lining sheds, which is her period.
Start a Conversation
Ask her questions to start the conversation if you’re having a difficult time with it, or take advantage of her questions by expanding on whatever she asks.
Tell your daughter that as her body changes, usually about two years after her breasts begin to develop, she’ll begin menstruating. Let her know that a woman’s cycle can vary from 22 days to 45 days and last anywhere from a day and a half to more than a week. Let her know that her experience will differ from that of her friends, and that’s okay.
Inform her that menstrual cramps are a possibility, but she can use a bottle of hot water, a heating pad, over-the-counter pain relievers or exercise to alleviate the pain. Tell her the pain does not last forever, and she shouldn’t be afraid.
Movies or Books
Show her movies or read her books that deal with a woman’s puberty experience.
Stock up on a variety of different sanitary products. Show her the difference between pads and tampons, and go over how each is used. Tell her she should feel comfortable with whichever method she chooses to use. She may want to carry a couple of products with her if she worries about starting at school.
Let your daughter know that she can always come to you or her doctor with any questions. It may be helpful to let her know about pelvic exams, as well.