The time has come for you and your daughter to have that special talk. You know the basic facts of life, of course… but what’s the best way to put them into words? The best way to start is by being supportive and well informed. Here are a few suggestions.
• Relax and be yourself. If you’re embarrassed or nervous, start by saying something like, “When I was growing up, I had a lot of questions about what was happening to me.” Let your child know you’ve been there.
• Recognize that you can’t fit everything into one major discussion. Let the subject come up naturally, while watching TV or riding in the car. You’ll find that it’s easier for your child to absorb information a little at a time.
• Be aware of what happens during puberty: Changes occur step by step over several years, usually between the ages of 9 and 16. You’ll observe external changes, such as breast development and a growth spurt, while internally, the reproductive organs are also maturing. This leads up to the main event — menstruation.
• Let your daughter know that menstruating, or getting her period, is a natural, positive step toward becoming a woman. Encourage her to learn more about her anatomy, the menstrual cycle, and choosing menstrual protection.
Feminine protection products fall into two categories: external protection-pads or panty shields, and internal protection, tampons.
Many girls start with pads to become familiar with their menstrual flow. Tampons absorb menstrual flow inside the body, but because tampons are reliable, comfortable, and worn inside (so nothing shows), girls feel free to keep up with all their activities and to wear all their favorite clothes.
First-time tampon users may find that Tampax Pearl® lites are a good choice because they have a smooth applicator and a rounded tip that makes insertion easy and comfortable.
Parents often ask, “When can a girl start to use tampons?”
The answer is: As soon as she begins to menstruate. By then, her body is mature enough to use a tampon. Inserting the tampon is not a problem, because the vaginal opening is flexible, and is only partially covered by the hymen. The opening that allows menstrual fluid out, also allows a tampon to be inserted. Please note that tampons do not affect virginity. A virgin is someone who has not had sexual intercourse.
Over the years, you’ve watched your child grow and go through one change after another. But puberty is different. It’s a time that can be as trying for parents as it is for young teens.
Only yesterday, it seems, your daughter begged for bedtime stories and goodnight kisses. Now, she’d rather have teen magazines and time alone. And her friends’ opinions seem to count a lot more than yours.
Like many parents, you may be a bit shaken at the thought of your child growing up and becoming more independent. But even as she questions your ideas, your daughter still cares about what you think and say. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open during this challenging age.
You can help your daughter feel good about the changes she’s experiencing by being informed and being available to answer her questions. Most young teens first learn about menstruation from their mothers. And many mothers have contacted us for advice. We’d like to help you feel more confident in your ability to understand and educate your child.