Your girl is… well, not so much a little kid anymore! You know that the inevitable will happen and you want both of you to be ready for it. At SugaPlum, we believe that it’s important to normalize conversations about periods and all things related to female health, so we did some research to help you tackle this subject. Having the right teenage knickers, for example, is a good starting point, and there are a few other things you might want to have in mind to help you both out.
1. When do most girls get their first period?
There is no right answer to this question. It could happen anytime between 10 and 15 years old, but every girl’s body has its own schedule.
2. Are there clues the first period will start soon?
Usually, the breasts start to develop around 2 years before the first period. Another clue could be some discharge (like mucus) on the underwear, which appears between 6-12 months before. But again, these are estimates and could be different for your kid.
3. Should I explain to her what is a period?
Yes! The more information she has, the better: there should be no mystery around this and it should be treated as a normal and natural function of the body. There are many resources online that can help you with this. The most important thing is that she is aware that this will be happening at some point and that she shouldn’t be scared if she sees period blood on her teenage knickers.
4. Periods always come every 28 days, right?
There are a lot of people with this misconception! Although 28 days is a good reference of how long the cycle is, this is very different for each person. Some cycles are longer and some are shorter, and especially in the first couple of years, it might not be regular. Bear in mind that if after 2 years it hasn’t regularised, it might signal some issues and it would be a good idea to get her checked by a doctor.
5. How long should a period last?
It depends on the person. 5 days seem to be the most common range but it can be shorter or longer.
6. Is PMS real?
It absolutely is. Premenstrual Syndrome is the combination of emotional and physical symptoms that happen due to hormonal changes. They start a few days before menstruation and usually stop a couple of days after it starts. The symptoms are usually bloating, headaches, moodiness, constipation (or diarrhea), cramping, feeling tired, appetite changes, anxiety, etc. Not everybody is affected, and they can range from mild to severe, even variating from month to month.
7. How much blood should come out? Can you bleed out?
It might look like a lot of blood but it really is a small amount. Although each woman is different, the average is a few tablespoons of blood during the whole thing. Most girls need to change their pads, tampon or cup about 3-6 times a day.
8. What is best, a pad, period-proof teenage knickers, tampons or menstrual cup?
For the first period, pads or period-proof teenage knickers are usually recommended because tampons and cups need some time and practice to get used to them and it might be overwhelming. Remember to show her how to use them correctly, i.e.: a pad can be confused with a Band-Aid and used upside down. Once she feels comfortable, a good idea is to try all the options so she can choose what she likes better. Remember that tampons and cups should not hurt and that there is no age limit to use them (they don’t affect the hymen), but that extra care is needed and that they should be changed frequently.
9. When and how should I start this conversation?
The general advice is to keep it general when they are younger (i.e. mentioning that they will have a period when they are older), and to add more details as they grow up (explaining that the blood doesn’t mean anything bad or how often they will have it, etc.). The goal is to be clear and straightforward and to let them know that periods are absolutely normal and a sign of good health. It should not be treated as a secret, so it’s a good idea to keep your facial expressions calm or neutral when discussing it.
10. How can I watch for any problems?
Most girls won’t have any issues but just in case, pay attention to these signs:
She is 15 and hasn’t started her period
Periods are not regular after 2 years
There is bleeding between periods
Severe cramps that are not helped with pain medication like ibuprofen or paracetamol
Very heavy bleeding (i.e. needing a new pad every hour)
Periods last more than 1 week
PMS is severe and gets in the way of normal activities.
If you detect any of these symptoms, contact the doctor. She could be experiencing a hormonal imbalance, an issue with the development of the reproductive organs, endometriosis, PCOS, etc.
It is recommended that the first gynaecological visit should be between ages 13-15, even when they don’t have menstrual troubles.s