A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Daughter’s first period? How to prepare

Starting a period can be an important milestone in a daughter’s life. Most girls get their first period around age 12-14, but some can start earlier or later. You can help prepare your daughter for these changes as she reaches puberty. You also can educate her to learn more about her body and benefit her health.

Portrait of a mother and teenage daughter about to discuss the daughter's first period

If you’ve been wondering how to prepare your daughter for her first period, follow these practical tips to make sure she’s ready

Here are five tips to prepare your daughter for her first period.

Discuss what is going on in her body

As a parent, having the conversation with your child about their first period might seem daunting, and your daughter may be scared or embarrassed. By opening the conversation around her first period, you are already showing that you can be someone she turns to when she has questions.

“You can explain to her that menstruation is a milestone in any young woman’s life, and it’s nothing to fear or be ashamed of,” said Morgan Figueroa, Certified Nurse Midwife with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Periods are normal and a healthy part of her transition into puberty.”

A menstrual cycle is a period of 21-35 days in which the uterus and ovaries respond to the changing levels of circulating hormones. In each cycle, an egg is released, meaning a woman can become pregnant if sexually active and not using any contraception. If the egg is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus is shed through the vagina and expelled. This is what women experience each period when blood and tissue leave their body.

Figueroa said being transparent about menstrual cycles can help normalize your daughter’s experience, and ensure she gets positive and accurate information from you rather than the internet or friends at school.

Discuss first period symptoms

During the conversation about what is happening to her body, it is important to share potential symptoms that she may experience during her cycle. Common symptoms of your daughter’s first period include:

  • Light brown or pink discharge
  • Light to heavy bleeding
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Mood swings
  • Soreness in breasts

You can help explain that she may notice a few of these symptoms prior to her first period as her hormones start circulating. By knowing these symptoms, she can be better equipped on what to expect and take out some of the mystery behind the first period.

Explain how often she can expect a menstrual cycle

During the first few years of their period, women may experience irregular cycles. Explain to your daughter that irregular periods are normal, and eventually her cycle will become more regular.

This can be an important time for your daughter to find a women’s health provider. A women’s health provider will continue to discuss changes or concerns she may have with her health.

You also can share benefits to tracking her periods. In addition to finding patterns that can help her predict when her next period will come, she can learn to begin managing her gynecologic health early.

“Women who are in tune with their bodies are better able to detect abnormalities that stray from their regular rhythm,” Figueroa said.

If she has a cellphone, your daughter can check out various apps online that help make period tracking easy and fun. Figueroa recommends the Flo app for tracking cycles.

Explore your daughter’s first period supplies together

Even for someone experienced with menstrual cycles, the number of different supplies can be overwhelming. You can explore the different essential items together.

Most girls are more comfortable starting with pads. Consider getting teen-sized or ultra-thins in a variety of sizes. If she wants to use tampons or menstrual cups, she can continue to find what works best for her.

Additionally, you can create a supply kit for her each month that includes a heating pad and pain medication, along with an on-the-go kit that provides a clean pair of underwear, extra pads and any other items for unexpected menstruation.

Avoid focusing on the negative experiences of menstruation

Every woman is unique in her menstrual cycle experience. You can share your experiences with your daughter if she asks, but it is important to let her know that every woman is different.

Even if you have had painful periods due to endometriosis or other factors, your daughter may not. Therefore, you do not want to describe a negative experience that can scare her even more before the time comes. Be open and honest about your experience but let her know she can talk to you or her doctor if she has questions.

For more advice on how to prepare your daughter for her first period, talk to your primary or women’s health provider.

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