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

To introduce the subject of menstruation, you might ask your daughter what she knows about puberty. Clarify any misinformation, ask if she has questions and explain the basics. Share your own experiences. Consider timing your conversations with the health lessons and sex education your daughter is receiving in school. If your daughter is resistant to discussing the subject, 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 and take it for truth. Talking to her can help eliminate unfounded fears or anxiety, as well as influence the way she feels about her body. In addition, the conversations you have with your daughter about menstruation can lay the groundwork for future talks about dating and sexuality.

Aug. 04, 2011 See more In-depth