According to clinical psychologist, Dr. Karen Zager, “A girl’s first period should actually be a milestone in a series of talks over many years of normal developments.” It is believed that some girls begin menstruation earlier or later than others between the ages of eight and twelve, and others may not see theirs until they are fifteen. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor in the event of late menstruation, just to be certain there are no medical complications. Sometimes late menstruation can be caused by small chromosomes or a lack of fitness, but eventually, their first period will come.
Now imagine a scenario where your 10-year-old daughter confronts you with an impromptu question about her best friend’s early period experience; it is pertinent that you create the appropriate environment of early period talks as it fits her age, to avoid her getting all the wrong answers from friends.
It is helpful to provide books and videos about menstrual hygiene, signs of menstruation and other frequently asked questions and misconceptions. Parent’s shouldn’t hand over the book and jolt for the door, they should stick around to read the book and watch the videos together. In that respect, you will provide first-hand answers to her questions. However, if she clearly feels uncomfortable doing this in your presence, respect her need for privacy and allow her to go through the material alone, with reassurance that she can come to you with her questions at any time.
How to help her deal with her first menstruation
- Open conversation: Make her feel free to talk about the new development she is experiencing, ask her what she knows about menstruation. If she expresses any misconceptions, tell her the truth.
- Blood loss: It is a trending misconception for adolescent girls who experience their first period to worry about losing too much blood. Correct this by explaining that she will only lose an average of about 30 to 40 millimeter per period. This is normal, but if she has cases of Von Willebrand disease, then you need medical attention.
- Cramps: Assure her that cramps are normal and they affect each girl to a different degree. Cramps usually fizzle out with time and are often most severe at the beginning of the period, but chamomile tea, warm baths and hot water bottles help ease the pain. Over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen can assist when cramps are more severe.
- Use of sanitary pads, tampons, and liners: It is advisable to start with sanitary pads, because it is much easier to use, but she can turn to the use of liners and tampons when she gets more acquainted with her body. Always make sure she has extra sanitary pads to take to school to avoid an embarrassing situation.
- Keeping track: Studies have shown that irregular menstruations are prevalent among girls at the height of puberty, but after a year or two, the menstrual cycle becomes stable. Experts advise that you ask your daughter to keep track of her menstrual cycle with a calendar. At first, it might be difficult to track the changes, but as times goes, she will get to know it.
- If you just feel too awkward: If you are a single dad or you just feel awkward talking to your daughter about her period, you can always make an appointment for her to see a nurse or any other trustworthy woman that she would feel comfortable talking to.
When to seek medical attention
- Heavy pouring and blood soak through more than one sanitary pad in a short span of time.
- Excruciating pains before or in the course of periods.
- Intense pains when inserting or removing tampons.
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