This is it, your daughter is coming out of childhood and soon to be menstruating. If this is a worrying event for your pre-teen, it may also be for you, and you're now wondering how to explain menarche to her. We'll walk you through the process of talking to her about menarche and the menstrual cycle!
Why talk about menstruation with your daughter?
As parents, your role is to prepare your children for the different stages of life, and the passage from little girl to menstruating woman is no exception!
It is also an opportunity to reassure your child within the family and to share your own experience of your first period. In the coming months, you will indeed form a new relationship, between the dependence of a little girl on her parents, and a discussion with a young woman! Explaining menstruation to your daughter means avoiding the taboo of menstruation, but above all guiding her in her new femininity.
When should you explain menstruation to your daughter?
This subject should be discussed spontaneously, even before the period arrives! Indeed, it is very important that she prepares herself psychologically to this great upheaval, because it can be impressive for a young teenager to find one day her panties stained with blood. This way, we avoid unpleasant surprises, and we tell her in advance about the changes that will take place!
It is generally said that menstrual flow occurs about 2 years after the development of hair and the growth of breasts: when you feel that puberty has begun, it is the time to discuss this with your daughter, generally around her 10th birthday. For some, the first period will arrive around 8-9 years old, others only around 16 years old, with an average around the age of 12 and in general around the same age as the mother. It is up to you to trust the signs, and in any case to answer these questions if she takes the lead.
It is important to show that menstruation is not a taboo subject, and that your daughter can talk about it freely and without embarrassment. Take the opportunity to teach the rest of the siblings about female puberty at the same time, and brief your partner on the different types of sanitary protection. This way, boys and girls alike will have the same level of information, while respecting each other's comfort and privacy!
Our advice for talking about menstruation with your daughter
We have plenty of tips for approaching the discussion at ease and without embarrassment with your pre-teen!
Learn how the female body works
First and foremost, fear comes from ignorance: it is therefore vital that your teenager knows what menstruation is and how the female body functions and changes:
- About 2 years after the beginning of puberty, menstruation arrives, signalling the beginning of fertility in women
- They are present in women, except for pregnancy, contraception or particular pathology, from the age of 12 until the menopause, around 45 years old
- It is in fact the blood loss due to the degradation of the mucous membrane of the uterus which flows out through the vagina
- Premenstrual syndrome is a precursor of their arrival a few days before: irritability, mood swings, migraines, tense breasts...
- It is possible to get pregnant as soon as you are regulated, so it is also necessary to do prevention and sexual education and later, if necessary, discuss the need for a contraceptive
- The female cycle repeats on average every 28 days, with the ovulation phase on the 14th day. Menstruation occurs at the end of the cycle and lasts 4 to 6 days on average
Explain the changes during adolescence
Adolescence is marked by major hormonal changes. Female puberty marks the transition from little girl to young woman, with the development of hair and the growth of the breasts in particular, under the action of thepituitary gland which triggers a cascade ofhormonal reactions. Your teenager, who only yesterday seemed to be your little baby, is becoming a woman: you may find it hard to get used to this idea, just like her! However, you can reassure her by explaining the symptoms she will see coming, which are quite normal:
- Breast development: the breasts become rounder, the nipples develop
- Hair growth: pubic and underarm hair increases
- Acne, due to fluctuations in testosterone levels, may appear
- Increased sweating due to sweat glands and new body odor
- Vaginal discharge, which indicates that the menstrual cycle is starting
- Menstruation, with each cycle, which can be irregular for the first two years, with a capricious flow
- A physical maturity that does not always go hand in hand with the mental maturity of a young menstruating woman: she must be made to feel responsible, she can now become pregnant, she must be vigilant about her sexuality
- There can be differences between the age of arrival of these symptoms in young girls: reassure her, tell her that it is normal and that each woman is different
Accompany your daughter from the beginning of her period
To accompany your daughter from menarche onwards, and to ensure that she experiences her period with peace of mind, here are some tips:
- Explain to her the different types of sanitary protection available to her, and their advantages and disadvantages
- Always have a sanitary protection on you just in case. It is also possible to wear a menstrual panty as a preventive measure, when menstrual discharge is expected to occur soon
- Helping her keep a small period book, noting the start and end dates of her last period
- Reassure her that the first few flows may be irregular for the first two years, while the cycle stabilizes
- Any significant pain is not normal, in this case it is possible to accompany her for a first consultation with the gynecologist or a health professional
- Advise her on her hygiene: buy her a deodorant to make her feel comfortable with her new body odor, teach her how to wash her intimate area (no douching!) and how to clean and care for her skin to limit acne
- Be patient with her mood swings and hormonal changes: it's as hard for her as it is for you!
- Be there for her, listen to her questions and try to reassure her!
If you find it difficult to talk about this subject, we offer our First Periods booklet on our website, which is a support to open the discussion around these topics.
How to talk about menstruation as a father?
The discussion should not be a taboo just because you are male! It is important to be as free and comfortable to talk about what is happening to your daughter. First of all, if you haven't experienced it yourself, you can compensate by learning about it: if you're reading this article, that's a good thing! Your teenager should not be embarrassed to tell you about it. However, this will depend on the relationship you have had with her so far: develop your complicity and the trust she places in you now!
If you don't feel comfortable talking about these subjects in your own way, you can also entrust this task to someone who is better able to talk to your daughter about menstruation: someone close to you, your family, her doctor... In any case, respect her privacy and know how to assess the situation so as not to embarrass her!
If you have alternating custody, maintain contact with the person with whom she feels most comfortable talking about it, whether it's you or her mother, giving her the possibility of calling him if necessary.
The FAQ on how to explain your period to your daughter
How to talk to your daughter about her first period?
Talk to her beforehand, before they arrive! With naturalness, by explaining the physiological mechanisms involved, by putting her at ease and by listening to her doubts and fears. Explain to her this great upheaval that will soon occur, so that she can prepare herself to welcome her first period with serenity.
How to explain the arrival of menstruation to her daughter?
Explain to your daughter in your own words how the female cycle works: for an average of 28 days, hormone variations follow one another to end with the evacuation of the uterine mucous membrane via vaginal bleeding: this is the period! It is a natural phenomenon that marks the beginning of a woman's life: nothing could be more normal. All you need to do during your period is to use the appropriate sanitary protection!
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