Period Talk: Explaining Menstruation to Your Daughter
Having the period talk with your daughter might seem like a difficult conversation. You might be concerned with several doubts or that your little girl is perhaps not ready yet. Or you might be wondering where to even begin.
It’s natural to be apprehensive at first. But it doesn’t have to be as tough as setting out a braai spread on a Sunday afternoon. Here’s a basic guide on how to talk to your daughter about her period. The key is to take it slow and be in tune with the times.
But first, let’s cover the basics so that you yourself are prepared before you do the period talk.
Explaining Menstruation and the Signs of Period
To make the period conversation with your daughter more casual, you should understand the science of menstruation and know how that information will be processed by your daughter’s teenage mind.
So, it is good to know that the changes in her body are caused by a collective increase in hormones. As she approaches her puberty, her ovaries will begin to develop. The pituitary gland causes the production of oestrogen and androgen hormones in her body, ultimately heralding the onset of periods.
These hormonal changes trigger multiple developmental changes in your daughter’s body. Following are some of the most common signs your girl will notice:
- Development of breast buds
- Hair growth on the body, public hair
- Acne in the face and neck
- Presence of body odour
- Vaginal discharge
- Mood swings
Many of these signs can appear simultaneously, which will give you enough signals to start the period talk.
Doing the Period Talk: A Caring Mother’s Guide
If you have started noticing any of the signs of periods in your daughter, then it’s time to explain puberty to her. Here’s a 101 to help you get started.
Start Discussing Early
Begin with talking about the changes she’s experiencing in her body. This doesn’t have to be a ‘sit-down’ where you specifically take some time out and pick apart the topic. Instead, include it in your daily conversations.
If you have noticed vaginal discharge in her underwear, take it as a cue to immediately talk to your daughter about periods and menstruation.
It is only natural that she will be curious to know more as to why her body is behaving in a certain way. This is your opportunity to talk to her about menstruation.
Don’t worry if she isn’t receptive the first time around. Many young girls do not feel comfortable having these intimate discussions with their parents or are bound to lose interest when the discussion is formal. Keep the conversation friendly, tell your daughter not to fear these changes but embrace them as a part of growing up.
You can also talk about panty liners and types of menstrual products to give her confidence. Giving examples, sharing your experiences, and telling her that her friends are (or will be) going through the same will help.
When it comes to the period talk, it’s important to communicate to your teenage girl that periods are nothing to be ashamed of
Be Specific About the Concepts
- Teach her to address her body parts with the correct terminology and empower her not to hide this natural act from her peers or be shameful of the act itself.
The most critical point is to avoid euphemisms surrounding menstruation. Instead of describing it as ‘untouchable week’ or ‘granny’s stuck in traffic’. Use plain terms like periods, menstruation, and vaginal discharge. She is old enough to both understand the weight of the terms, which you can influence by the way you convey your message, and its seriousness.
Mention that everyone goes through puberty – including her siblings (if she has any) and her male schoolmates. In any case, do not tiptoe around the topics that can render her into a state of further confusion. She might then look for information elsewhere, which can be dangerous.
Pro tip: Sharing your own experiences with puberty can help break the ice and can be a great bonding exercise for both of you!
Encourage Open Conversation in the Household
- This is a great way to break the embarrassment that may arise from the period talks.
- Talk to your partner and involve him in these conversations. It can just be a passive involvement where he goes for sanitary pad shopping instead of you and your daughter.This will make her more comfortable about her menstruation and not make her think that it’s something to be embarrassed about.
A great way to facilitate this openness is to occasionally talk about your own periods with your partner in the presence of your daughter. This will give her the much-needed confidence that she won’t get from anywhere else. If her mama can do it, so can she. Right?
Have the sex talk with your daughter! Tell her about the birds and bees, teach her about good and bad touch. Educate her about STIs and HIV/AIDS and what she needs to be aware of to grow into a confident, young woman.
Prepare for Her First Period
Once you are confident that you have provided her with the essential information and given her sufficient confidence to face her periods head-on, it’s time to start preparing for her first period. It doesn’t matter if she has already started menstruating. You can still do these essentials that can go a long way in setting the tone of her menstruation for the next few years.
Do a show-and-tell – Talk to her about the products that she can use
Discuss her needs – Let her choose the support products she wants. Introduce her to sanitary pads and tampons,and other things needed to maintain menstrual hygiene. Explain to her the importance of safety and comfort and how to use them properly.
Pack a period kit – This is a great way to introduce reliable products as well as other essentials like hand sanitizer, paper napkins, sanitary pads, panty liners that she can discretely pack in her school bag.
You may consider ALWAYS sanitary pads and other menstruation products like tampons and panty liners to do this. Recommending a reliable brand and range of products is critical because that will influence her experience in the long run.
Menstruation is a sensitive topic and one that needs compassion, patience, and understanding on your part. We know you mean well, but it’s better to go prepared before you do the period talk with your daughter.
In any case, it’s better to avoid bringing it up when she’s enjoying her favourite Netflix show. Being a mother, you’ll know best when to start. So, go on, do that essential mama-baby period talk now-now.