We’ve come a long way from the medieval sanitary belt tucked under the bed. Periods are no longer a totally taboo subject, which we think is great news: the more girls know about their bodies, the more likely they are to make smart, informed decisions about their health. But no matter how common period talk becomes in mainstream media, for young girls, the first period can still be a source of anxiety.
Here are four ways you can help take the fear out of your daughter’s period.
1. Start early
Don’t wait until she’s Googled and gossiped her way to a bizarro idea of what periods are actually like. Most girls will begin menstruating between the ages of 10 and 15, but it’s not uncommon for girls as young as 6 or 7 to be aware of what will happen to their body as they grow up. If she’s old enough to ask questions, she’s old enough to hear the answers! By talking openly about menstruation before puberty hits, your daughter will be much more likely to come to you with questions and concerns, and to understand that her period — and all its quirks — is absolutely nothing to be scared of.
2. Track changes
Technology is a great tool for translating your daughter’s biology into a language she can understand. Period trackers can demystify menstrual cycles, from sleep disruption to flow volume — and the tricky emotional shifts that accompany them. Tracking apps will also help your teen become aware of irregularities that could require medical attention. (You can also go old school and help her pick out a journal she can use to track her cycle.)
3. Share your story
No need to get cringe-worthily personal, but sharing your own period story can help your teen feel less alone as she navigates her changing body. Take the time to explain why some days, you can’t get through the morning commute without a jumbo pack of peanut M&Ms. Be honest about your moods and messes, and she’ll be better able to contextualize her own hormones and physical changes.
4. One size doesn't fit all
Gone are the days of bulky pads and terrifying vending-machine tampons. From menstrual cups to organic tampons, your teen has access to a wide array of period products. Be open to the options and work with her to find what's best for her body. We developed our Knixteen period underwear as a gentle way to save teens from the leaks and stains that terrorized us in high school. They employ all the same awesome leak- and odor-proof technology you'll find in our regular seamless Knixwear period panties, but these guys are designed specifically for young girls. They’re a simple and effective way to make your teen feel totally in control of her period.
A version of this article first appeared in Canadian Family