How do you explain menstruation to your daughter?

This is it, your daughter is coming out of childhood and will soon be old enough to regulate. If this is a worrying event for your pre-teen, it may also be for you, and you're now wondering how to explain menstruation to her. Here's how to talk to her about menarche and the menstrual cycle!

Why talk about periods with your daughter?

As parents, your role is to prepare your children for the different stages of life, and the transition from little girl to menstruating woman is no exception!

It's also an opportunity to reassure her within the family setting, and to share your own experience of your first period. Over the coming months, you'll be forging a new relationship, from a little girl's dependence on her parents to a discussion with a young woman! Explaining menstruation to your daughter will not only prevent the taboo of menstruation from taking hold, but will also guide her in her new femininity.

When should you explain menstruation to your daughter?

The subject should be broached spontaneously, even before menstruation arrives! In fact, it's very important to prepare her psychologically for this major upheaval, as it can be quite a shock for a young teenager to find her panties stained with blood one day. This way, you can avoid unpleasant surprises, and tell her in advance about the changes that are about to take place!

Menstrual flow is generally said to occur around 2 years after the development of hair and the growth of breasts: when you feel that puberty has begun, that's the time to bring up the subject with your daughter, generally around her 10th birthday. For some girls, the first period will arrive around 8-9 years of age, for others only around 16, with an average around the age of 12 and generally around the same age as the mother. It's up to you to trust the signs, and in any case to answer these questions if she herself takes the initiative.

It's 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. That way, boys and girls alike will have the same level of information, while respecting each other's comfort and privacy!

Our tips for talking to your daughter about menstruation

We've got plenty of tips for discussing menstruation with your pre-teen at ease and without embarrassment!

Learn how the female body works

First and foremost, lack of knowledge leads to fear: so it's vital that your teenager knows what menstruation is and how the female body functions and changes:

  • Around 2 years after the onset of puberty, menstruation begins, signaling the start of fertility in women.
  • Menstruation is present in all women, except in the case of pregnancy, contraception or a particular pathology, from the age of 12 until the menopause, at around age 45.
  • They are actually blood loss due to degradation of the lining of the uterus, which drains out through the vagina.
  • Premenstrual syndrome is a warning sign of their arrival a few days before: irritability, mood swings, migraines, tense breasts...
  • It's possible to become pregnant once you've got your period under control, so it's also important to take preventive action and educate yourself about sex, and later, if necessary, discuss the need for contraception.
  • The female cycle repeats itself on average every 28 days, with the ovulation phase on day 14. Menstruation comes at the end of the cycle and lasts 4 to 6 days on average.

Explain changes during adolescence

Adolescence is a time of great hormonal upheaval. Female puberty marks the transition from little girl to young woman, with the development of body hair and breast growth in particular, under the action of thepituitary gland, which triggers a cascade ofhormonal reactions. Your teenager, who only yesterday seemed like your little baby, is becoming a woman: you, like her, may find it hard to get used to the idea! You can reassure her, however, by explaining the symptoms she's about to experience, which are quite normal:

  • breast development: breasts become rounder, nipples develop
  • Hair growth: pubic hair and armpit hair multiply.
  • Acne may appear due to fluctuations in testosterone levels
  • Increased sweating, thanks to the sweat glands, and new body odours
  • Vaginal discharge, indicating the onset of the menstrual cycle
  • Menstruation, with each cycle, which can be irregular for the first two years, with a capricious flow
  • A physical maturity that doesn't always go hand in hand with the mental maturity of a young menstruating woman: she needs to be made aware of her responsibilities, as she can now become pregnant, and needs to be vigilant about her sexuality.
  • There may be discrepancies between the ages of onset of these symptoms in young girls: reassure her that this is normal and that every woman is different.

Support your daughter from the start of her period

Here are a few tips for accompanying your daughter as soon as she enters menarche, to ensure that she experiences her period with peace of mind:

  • Explain the different types of sanitary protection available to her, and their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Always carry sanitary protection with you, just in case. It's also possible to wear menstrual panties as a preventive measure, when menstrual discharge is expected soon.
  • Help her keep a period diary, noting the start and end dates of her last period.
  • Reassure her that the first flows may be irregular for the first two years, while the cycle stabilizes.
  • Any significant pain is not normal, in which case you can accompany her for an initial consultation with a gynecologist or health professional.
  • Advise her on her hygiene: buy her a deodorant to make her feel comfortable with her new body odours, teach her how to wash her intimate area (no douching!) and how to cleanse and care for her skin to limit acne.
  • Be patient with her mood swings and hormonal variations: 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 broach the subject, our First Rules booklet is available on our website, and can be used as a discussion starter.

How can I talk about menstruation as a father?

Talking about menstruation shouldn't be taboo just because you're a man! It's important to be as free and comfortable as possible to talk about what's happening to your daughter. First of all, if you haven't experienced it yourself, you can compensate by reading up on the subject: if you're reading this article, that's already a good point! Your teenager shouldn't be embarrassed to talk to you about it. However, this will depend on the relationship you've had with her up to now: develop your complicity and the trust she places in you from now on!

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 placed to talk to your daughter about rules: someone close to you, your family, her GP... 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 option of calling if necessary.

FAQ on explaining menstruation to your daughter

How do you talk to your daughter about her first period?

You need to talk to her about it before it happens! Explain the physiological mechanisms involved, put her at ease and listen to her doubts and fears. Explain this major upheaval that's about to happen, so that she can prepare to welcome her first period with serenity.

How to explain the arrival of menstruation to your daughter?

Explain to your daughter in your own words how the female cycle works: for an average of 28 days, a series of hormone variations culminate in the evacuation of the uterine mucous membrane through vaginal bleeding: that's menstruation! It's a natural phenomenon, marking the beginning of a woman's life: nothing could be more normal. All you need to do during menstruation is use the right sanitary protection!

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