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Preparing for the First Menstruation
Your Daughter’s Period
Talking to Your Daughter
- Tell your daughter that most girls get their first period around age 12, but that it is not unusual to get it much earlier or much later. However, if your daughter has not started menstruating by the age of 15, consult her physician who can find out if another condition, such as pregnancy, an eating disorder, excessive exercising, or stress, is causing the delay of her period.
- Explain that many women experience premenstrual symptoms, including cramps, headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, and moodiness in the days leading up to their periods. She should know that these discomforts can be managed and will not interfere with normal activity, sports, or exercise.
- Some women experience pain around the mid-point of their menstrual cycle. This occurs during ovulation, when the egg is released from the ovary. The pain is generally short-lived, but can appear suddenly.
- Give your daughter an idea about how heavy and how long she can expect her periods to be. Periods can be light, moderate, or heavy. The duration of a period also varies. They typically last from 3-5 days, but anywhere from 2-7 days is considered normal.
- Inform your daughter that it is normal for periods to be very irregular during the first few years after menstruation begins. This irregularity can last up to six years, but is usually much less.
- Show your daughter how to use tampons and pads, and explain the benefits of each. Tell her she should change pads as often as necessary, before they are soaked. Tampons should be changed frequently. Leaving a tampon in too long can lead to a rare, but serious and sometimes deadly infection called toxic shock syndrome .
- Make sure your daughter understands that once a girl has her period, she can get pregnant. This may mean bringing up complicated topics like sex, sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception for the first time with your daughter. But it is important that she understands the connection between menstruation and pregnancy.
- Keep a tampon or pad tucked away in your purse or backpack at all times.
- If you have an accident, don’t panic. Cold water gets out most bloodstains. In the meantime, tying a jacket or sweater around your waist will hide the stain.
- Learn to track your menstrual cycle with a calendar so you will know when to expect it.
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, or pain reliever such as acetaminophen, to manage premenstrual cramps and headaches.
- Is bleeding for more than seven days
- Is bleeding excessively
- Bleeds between periods (more than just a few drops)
- Goes three months without a period or thinks she may be pregnant
- Has severe pain during her period
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
Office on Women's Health http://www.womenshealth.gov
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health Care. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 349, November 2006: Menstruation in girls and adolescents: using the menstrual cycle as a vital sign. Reaffirmed 2009. Obstet Gynecol. 2006. 108(5):1323-1328.
All about menstruation. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/teens/puberty-sexuality/all-about-menstruation.html. Updated October 2010. Accessed January 21, 2014.
Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html. Updated July 16, 2012. Accessed January 21, 2014.
Physical development in girls: What to expect. American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Physical-Development-Girls-What-to-Expect.aspx. Updated May 11, 2013. Accessed January 21, 2014.
Talking to your child about menstruation. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/talk%5Fabout%5Fmenstruation.html. Updated August 2011. Accessed January 21, 2014.
Your first period. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq049.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140121T1424247430. Accessed January 21, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Update Date: 01/21/2014