Your daughter’s first period: dos and don’ts
Navigating this new chapter
In a culture of shame, taboos, and silence around menstruation, it’s unsurprising that so many girls are feeling isolated when they experience their first period. As you may remember, it can feel intimidating to face this new milestone: dealing with mood swings, deciding on period products, and worrying whether your period is “normal”.
And with puberty happening earlier (with periods beginning as young as 8), it’s understandable that girls feel unequipped to deal with something that they may never have heard of. luna receives 1000s of questions from girls about their periods and there is a notable apprehension about first periods. Here are a few examples:
“Should I use a pad or tampon for my first period and how do I use them?”
“hi luna i want to ask i got my first period at 10 is that to young or??”
“What colour is your first period meant to be”
With this in mind, parents are a first destination for daughters to understand their periods. Following luna’s dos and don’ts below, will help you support instead of overwhelm your daughter, approaching this natural part of growing up honestly, calmly, and empathetically.
- Encourage her to speak to you if she’d like to: being someone that she can turn to is so important. Subtly remind her that she can speak to you about anything, but only if she wants to.
- Try to answer her questions: have a general chat with your daughter about periods and get an idea of what she knows already, so you know where to fill in the gaps. If she’s got questions, try your best to answer them as honestly as you can. Don’t worry if you’re not sure about everything - direct her to luna’s Ask service where she can get empathetic advice from luna’s medical experts.
- Reassure her about the colour of period blood: it can feel scary to start your periods, so try to reassure her that period blood can be a number of colours, from bright red to rust brown.
- Get a period pouch ready: making a period pouch to carry in a school bag is a great way to get prepared. It’s also a nice idea to offer to take your daughter shopping for period products - however don’t force this and try not to take it personally if she declines.
- Encourage her to track her cycles: it’s never too early to take control of periods and start tracking. Encouraging your daughter to track her cycle and any symptoms she’s experiencing will help her understand what to expect in future. luna’s got a great tracker that’s easy to understand and use!
- Have a chat about her expectations: your daughter is likely going through a lot of emotions, so offer to have a chat about how she’s feeling and what’s going through her head. You don’t even need to offer any solutions - sometimes a listening ear is all that’s needed.
- Reassure her that periods start when the body is ready: the normal age range for first periods is from 8-17, with 12 being the average. Or, it’s around 2 years after the first signs of puberty. If your daughter has no signs of puberty by age 13 or no periods by age 15, it’s worth heading to the doctor.
- Support her and encourage others to do the same: encourage other people in your family to support your daughter too. If everyone understands how the menstrual cycle works, this will create an environment where respect and privacy for your daughter are the norm.
- Use flowery language or euphemisms: use the correct language (such as menstruation and periods) rather than any euphemisms or sayings, which make the experience feel more taboo and shameful.
- Share when her period has started with other people without her consent: while periods are nothing to be ashamed of, they are still personal, so make sure you don’t share anything about her period without her consent.
- Force her to buy period products with you if she’s not ready: offer to take her and if she says no, respect that decision. Instead you can offer some advice on what to get or, if you can, purchase a selection of products for her to choose from.
- Make her feel ashamed or embarrassed: periods are nothing to be ashamed of so it’s important to remind her of this. Encourage other people in your family to adopt this mindset too, so that your daughter is surrounded with positivity about periods.
- Scare her with frightening period stories: instead be honest and optimistic, reminding her that periods are different for everyone and what’s most important is what’s normal for her.
- Be too demanding: while it’s important that she understands that her mood swings can impact others, keep in mind she’s dealing with a lot of new emotions. Try to be calm and understanding, but do still set boundaries and have reasonable expectations.
Understandably, it can be difficult to manage your relationship with a daughter who’s started having periods, but by offering help when needed and being a comforting, listening ear, you’ll be an invaluable part of helping her navigate this new stage.