Your Daughter's First Period: a Parent's Guide for Helping Your Daughter Stay Healthy and Informed

It may seem difficult to believe now, but your daughter will get her first period someday. The beginning of menstruation is often considered a young woman's entrance into sexual maturity and adulthood. Getting prepared for that day will help you and your daughter adjust to this change when it finally takes place. Working with your daughter's gynecologist, answering your daughter's questions and showing your daughter how to take care of her body are all a part of the process of ensuring your daughter's health and wellness. 

Know When It's Coming and What to Do About It

Assuming she is healthy and developmentally normal, your daughter is likely to get her first period between the ages of 10 and 16. Her breasts will begin to develop as early as 2 years before her first period, and underarm hair approximately 6 months before her first period. Although some girls can get their period earlier or later without problems, take your daughter to see a gynecologist if her period arrives at a time younger than 10 or later than 16. Your daughter's gynecologist will check your daughter to ensure that she is healthy. 

Even if your daughter's first period arrives on schedule, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends that your daughter go for her first well-woman visit between the ages of 13 and 15. Taking your daughter for regular well-woman visits will help to ensure that your daughter's reproductive system is healthy.

Talk to Your Daughter About Menstruation

Your daughter will need to understand the changes taking place in her body. Many parents of young girls consider talking about menstruation to be profoundly difficult. After all, menstruation can lead to discussions about puberty, reproductive organs and sexual maturity—all topics that many parents consider to be a third rail of raising teenagers. In many cases, the best way to address the topic of menstruation is to start talking about it when your daughter is young. Introducing the topic of menstruation slowly and over many years can make it much easier to talk about menstruation when your daughter is finally old enough that a serious discussion is necessary. 

If you find it too difficult to discuss menstruation with your daughter, there are a variety of books designed to inform children about their own changing bodies and what happens to people when they reach puberty. These books can do a lot of the talking for you if you find it difficult to answer questions about menstruation truthfully and accurately. You can also encourage your daughter to bring her questions to her gynecologist, who will be able to answer health-related questions truthfully and with accuracy.

Show Her the Products

If products like pads and tampons are a part of your normal life, talk to your daughter about them. Explain what the products do and how to use them. Keeping your daughter in the loop about these common items will help your her prepare psychologically for the day when she will need those products herself. Understanding the products ahead of time may also make it easier for your daughter to learn how to use them personally when the time comes.

Following these tips will ensure that your daughter's first period goes smoothly and that you're both prepared. For more tips and advice, speak with a gynecologist. He or she will be able to answer any questions you have about the menstruation process and how these changes will affect your daughter.