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Preparing your daughter for her period

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Starting your periods is an important milestone in a girl’s life but it can be a bit scary and embarrassing if you’re not prepared.

It’s important to talk to your daughter about what happens so that when the time comes she will know what to expect and what action to take.

BootsWebMD spoke to Paul Casey training manager for the sexual health charity FPA for his tips on making a period action plan.

Start early

Most girls start their periods at around the age of 12 but they can begin as early as 8 and as late as 16.

"Try to talk to your daughter before it’s likely to happen," says Paul. "I don’t see this as a one off conversation. Even when girls are as young as 5 or 6 they are curious about tampons or towels in the bathroom, you can just say: '''Those are things mummy uses at certain times of the month', and leave it at that."

Some primary schools give talks to girls about periods in year 6 at the age of 10 or 11 but Paul says: "These aren’t a statutory requirement and you can’t guarantee this will happen. So don’t rely on the school take the initiative and speak to your daughter yourself."

Answer questions honestly

Give age appropriate answers to any questions about periods over the years but as girls get older they may be wondering more about what it’ll feel like, how long it will last and will there be any pain.

You can start with the basics. Explain that her first few periods will most likely be light, and they might not be regular in the beginning. Say she may feel cramping pains especially at the start of her cycle but a painkiller, such as paracetamol, is usually all she’ll need to deal with them.

Consider making a period kit

A big fear for girls is getting their first period at school or when they’re away from home. To help your daughter feel ready, buy a small toilet bag and put a couple of teen-size sanitary pads and a clean pair of underwear in there.

"I think it’s important for a girl to be prepared," says Paul. "She may want a period kit but she may be too self-conscious to carry one around. If so ask her who she’d go to see if she started her period at school? Maybe a trusted teacher, or a school nurse."

Tampons or towels

Buy a selection of towels and tampons with and without applicators and open them up with your daughter. Have a look and them all and read the leaflets that go with them. Answer any questions she may have and tell her it’s entirely up to her what she feels more comfortable starting off with.

Paul says: "Reassure her that both methods are perfectly safe. Towels may be easier to use at first. Tampons can be uncomfortable if put in at the wrong angle or if you aren’t relaxed enough."

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