We’ve come a long way from the medieval sanitary belt tucked under the bed. Periods are no longer a totally taboo subject, which 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 moms (and dads!) can take the fear out of their daughter’s period.
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.
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.
Gone are the days of bulky pads and terrifying vending-machine tampons. From menstrual cups to sea sponges, your teen should have no trouble finding a period product that works for her. We especially love period panties, since they provide back-up protection against the leaks and stains that terrorized our own high school days. Canada’s Knixwear has been making awesome seamless, leakproof panties for a few years now, and they’ve just launched Knixteen — period underwear designed specifically for young girls, complete with a built-in panty liner for maximum protection against moisture, odor, and leaks. They’re a simple and effective way to make your teen feel totally in control of her period.
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.