Menstruation: Preparing your preteen for her period
Wonder how to introduce the subject of menstruation? What to tell your daughter about periods? How to ease her anxiety? Here's help covering the bases.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Most girls begin to menstruate when they're about 12, but periods are possible as early as age 8. That's why explaining menstruation early is so important. Menstruation, however, can be an awkward subject to talk about — especially with preteen girls, who seem to embarrass more easily than any other creatures on the planet.
So what's the best way to prepare your daughter for menstruation?
Talk early and often
The earlier you begin talking to your daughter about the changes she can expect in her body, the better. Don't plan a single tell-all discussion. Instead, talk about the various issues — from basic hygiene to fear of the unknown — in a series of conversations. If your daughter asks questions about menstruation, answer them openly and honestly. If she's not asking questions as she approaches the preteen years, it's up to you to start talking about menstruation.
How to start talking
You might start by asking your daughter what she knows about puberty. Clarify any misinformation, ask if she has questions, and explain the basics. Share your experiences. Consider timing your conversations with health lessons and sex education your daughter is receiving in school. If your daughter is resistant to talking, don't give up.
Remember, your daughter needs factual information about the menstrual cycle and all the other changes that puberty brings. If her friends are her only source of information, she might hear inaccurate information. Talking to her can help eliminate unfounded fears or anxiety, as well as influence the way she feels about her body. Also, the conversations you have with your daughter about menstruation can lay the groundwork for future talks about dating and sexuality.
Aug. 30, 2014
See more In-depth
- Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet. The National Women's Health Information Center. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html?from=AtoZ. Accessed July 17, 2014.
- Frequently asked questions. Especially for teens FAQ049. Your first period. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq049.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140718T1051424418. Accessed July 17, 2014.
- Gillooly JB. Making menarche positive and powerful for both mother and daughter. Women & Therapy. 2004;27:23.
- Rees M. Presence or absence of menstruation in young girls. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2006;1092:57.
- Berkowitz CD. Berkowitz's Pediatrics: A Primary Care Approach. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2012. http://ebooks.aap.org/product/berkowitzs-pediatrics-primary-care-approach-4th-edition. Accessed July 18, 2014.
- DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology. 11th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=498. Accessed July 18, 2014.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence, American Menstruation in girls and adolescents: Using the menstrual cycle as a vital sign. Pediatrics. 2006;118:2245.
- Hutcherson H. What Your Mother Never Told You About S-E-X. New York, N.Y.: Berkley; 2002:284.
- Hatcher RA, et al. Contraceptive Technology. 20th ed. New York, N.Y.: Ardent Media; 2011:29.