Early Discussions About Girl’s First Period Can Help Normalize Life Change

Physical changes can cue parents that daughter’s first period may be on horizon

DAYTON, Ohio (June 29, 2018) – A girl’s experience with her first period can be a lot easier when her parents or caregiver have prepared her for the event long before her body is ready to make it happen.

A lot goes on in a girl’s body to ready her for the change that occurs around her first menstrual cycle. Her body is developing and her hormones are fluctuating. Change like this can cause a lot of confusion and sometimes embarrassment, but a local certified nurse midwife said the best thing a parent can do is help normalize the experience and foster open communication.

“Parents should talk with their daughters about menstruation from a young age, and when they notice their daughter is going through physical changes – like when she begins developing breast buds, and hair in the pubic and arm pit area – that’s a sign that conversations should become more specific,” said Jalana Lazar, CNM, with Lifestages Centers for Women. “Tell your daughter what she can expect with her first period, and that it might be something that is going to happen in the coming year.”

As a nurse midwife Ms. Lazar takes care of young women’s gynecological needs and often educates their parents on steps they can take to make a first menstrual cycle a positive experience:

Remove the shame – Your biggest job as a role model in a girl’s life – whether you’re her mom, guardian or friend – is to take the shame and embarrassment out of the topic of menstruation. A period is a normal part of life for every female and it is something that half of the population will experience in their life. Removing a feeling of embarrassment about the topic will make it easier to talk about it.

Get ready together – Take your daughter or pre-teen girl in your life with you to shop for feminine hygiene products. Start with pads since they are simple and easy to understand. Purchase a package and then explain to her that keeping one in her backpack or sleepover bag can help her feel ready if the time would come while she is away from home. Make the trip extra special by picking out a cosmetic bag in which to keep the pad and other hygiene products.

Keep the expectation simple – Keep initial conversations very simple regardless of a daughter’s questions. For instance, a daughter may ask if a menstrual period hurts or wonder what menstrual cramps feel like. Refrain from talking about the possible pain she may experience since menstrual cycles can vary widely from person to person – even between mother and daughter. It’s not necessary to scare her about something that may not happen.

There’s time to add to the conversation – Remember that not all the information about a menstrual cycle is needed at once. Consider talking about all the changes a girl’s body may go through in stages. Let conversation happen naturally even if it means talking about one piece at a time. Details such as what can be done with menstrual cramps can take place when they actually happen.

“Girls can struggle with self-esteem issues regardless of their age, and there are times when they may feel out of control with what is happening with their body,” said Ms. Lazar, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “There’s hair growing in places she didn’t expect or she’s having body odor and vaginal discharge. Girls need caregivers to come alongside them and help make sense of what is happening. But more importantly, to understand that it’s a normal and wonderful time of life.”

Contact Us

Discover more about Premier Health and join us in building healthier communities in Southwest Ohio. Learn more about working at Premier Health, becoming a volunteer, and making a gift to support our mission.