Any parent will anticipate their daughter’s first period with nervous anticipation. The arrival of a girl’s first period marks a transition out of childhood and into adolescence.
But when *exactly* will it happen and how can you prepare? Read on…
First Period or Menarche
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the average North American girl gets her first period (known as “menarche”) around the age of 12. But it could happen any time between the age of 10 and 15. It’s far less common for girls to get their first period at as young an age as 8 years old, but it does happen.
There is no precise science for predicting when it will happen. Every girl’s body has its own schedule.
But there are some clues:
Beginning to menstruate is one part of puberty. But it’s not the only part of puberty. There are other more external indicators that the body is changing. These include:
- Breast Development: Full breast development can take three to four years. But once breasts start to develop, periods usually commence within 2 years.
- Pubic Hair: Pubic hair will be soft and thin at first, but it gets coarser over time. Periods usually occur 1-2 years after pubic hair begins to grow.
- Vaginal Discharge: Your daughter will also begin to notice vaginal discharge (a yellow mucus) on the underwear. This usually happens about 6 months before menarche.
How to Prepare Your Daughter for Her Period
If you can, talk to your child about periods before it happens. In fact, have an ongoing conversation from around the age of 8. You want to start to normalize this topic so that she comes to you with her questions too.
This approach also means you can keep the conversation natural, which will help you both feel more comfortable.
Talk to Her. And Listen...
Many young women are nervous about their period. They anticipate pain, worry about using menstrual products. If your daughter is very active, she may worry about the impact having a period might have on activities like sports.
These fears might be especially strong if your daughter is the first in her friend-group to get a period. So, take the time to talk to her.
Our recommendation is to educate her using very straightforward language, naming body parts correctly. Talking about periods may have been taboo when you were the same age, but it’s a good thing that times are changing.
Make sure to cover:
- What a period is and why we have them
- How much blood there will be
- How many days the bleeding will last
- Periods and pain
Also mention that:
- Periods may start out lighter and may be a little irregular at first
- She should expect to change the pad every 4 to 6 hours
- The period blood might be bright or dark red, brown or even blackish
If you feel shame or awkwardness talking about menstruation, approach this conversation as a way to help both you and your daughter move into this stage with body acceptance.
And, yes, your daughter is also now able to become pregnant (in fact she can become pregnant once she starts ovulating, which is before menarche). So, you need to have a conversation about safe sex too.
At the same time, don’t overwhelm her all at once. Your daughter may not need to hear the blow-by-blow account of bloating, acne, PMS, mood swings and so on all at once ;)
Introduce Her to Menstrual Products
Technically, your daughter can use tampons from her first menstruation. But many doctors feel it’s better to wait. However, if your daughter is very physically active, she may insist on trying tampons. If that’s the case, read the instructions carefully with her and make sure that she understands her own anatomy.
It might also be a good time to understand newer products on the market (you may even learn something new too!) Period panties might be a great option for a young girl, especially on those days when she’s insecure about leaking and she’s still getting to know her own flow.
Once you’ve helped her choose the right menstrual products, take the time to teach her how to dispose of used tampons or pads.
Prepare a Period Kit
Because there’s no way to exactly predict when your daughter will get her period, preparation is key. A period kit will help her feel confident and prepared, especially if her period comes at school or when she’s away from home.
All you need is:
- A pretty pouch that she can carry with her at all times
- 2-3 teen-size sanitary pads
- A clean pair of underwear. A leakproof pair is the way to go, and you can check those out at Knixteen!
You might want to make one kit for her school bag and a spare one too… she’s a teenager after all!
When You Need to See a Doctor
Most girls don’t have problems with their periods. But if you’re concerned, these are some reasons you might consider talking to a doctor:
- Your daughter is 15 years old and hasn’t yet had her period
- She started developing breasts 3 years ago and does not have her period
- Severe cramps are not relieved by over-the-counter ibuprofen or naproxen
- Bleeding is very heavy (soaking a tampon in under 2 hours)
- PMS gets in the way of her usual activities
- She has had menarche but her periods do not come every 3-6 weeks (especially if she has missed 3 or more periods in a row)
There are many resources out there to help you and your daughter prepare for her first menstruation.
- Knixteen: Our super protective, period-proof underwear will give you complete peace-of-mind against period leaks while at school or out with friends.
- The Dot Girl First Period Kit®, is an informative, stylish and straightforward tool to introduce girls to their period and make it easier for parents to deal with this necessary conversation and transition in a girl’s life.
- Period: A Girl’s Guide explains in a straightforward manner the changes all girls go through, answers common questions, and includes a brief description of a pelvic exam.
- American Girl’s The Care & Keeping of You is a bestselling body book for girls ages 8 and up! It features tips, how-tos, and facts from the experts. Girls will find age-appropriate answers to questions about their changing bodies.