How To Explain Menstruation: Talking To Your Child About Periods
Are you feeling unsure how to communicate with your child about menstruation ? Talking to your child about personal subjects like periods can feel uncomfortable for both of you at first, but providing them with credible information can help them understand their bodies and make good decisions for their health.
Let us guide you through how to talk to your child about periods and how to answer some common questions they might have.
When Do Periods Stop
Women usually have periods until menopause. Menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, usually around age 50. Menopause means that a woman is no longer ovulating or having periods and can no longer get pregnant. Like menstruation, menopause can vary from woman to woman and these changes may occur over several years.
For the first few years after menstruation begins, longer cycles are common. A woman’s cycle tends to shorten and become more regular with age. Most of the time, periods will be in the range of 21 to 35 days apart.
Periods stop during pregnancy, and often while you are breastfeeding. Some women find their periods stop for a time because of long-term illness, low body weight, stress, lots of strenuous exercise and hormone problems. Some medications, such as contraceptives, might stop your period. This can be helpful for some women, especially if their periods are heavy or painful. Sometimes after stopping the pill or other contraceptive, it can take a while for your periods to come back. Periods stop altogether when women reach menopause – the average age is 51-52.
The menstrual cycle is the hormonal driven cycle. Day 1 is the first day of your period while day 14 is the approximate day you ovulate and if an egg is not fertilized, hormone levels eventually drop and at about day 25. The egg then begins to dissolve and the cycle begins again with the period at about day 30.
Can I Get Pregnant
The short answer? Yes. Pregnancy is possible anytime semen comes into contact with the vagina.
Although the onset of menstruation is widely regarded as the start of your reproductive years, its possible to become pregnant before youve had a period.
It all comes down to your hormones. In some cases, your body may begin to release ovulation-causing hormones long before it triggers the start of menstruation.
Talk to a trusted adult or reach out to your healthcare provider if:
- You havent started your period by age 15.
- Youve had your period for about two years and it isnt regular.
- You experience bleeding between your periods.
- You experience severe pain that prevents you from completing daily activities.
- Your bleeding is so heavy that you have to change your pad or tampon every one to two hours.
- Your periods last longer than seven days.
If you call to make an appointment, tell the person whos scheduling it that youre having problems with your period.
They may ask you to write down details about:
- when your most recent period started
- when your most recent period ended
- when you first noticed your irregular bleeding or other symptoms
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Puberty Can Start As Early As 5 Experts Say
Tanginika Cuascud was 5 years old when she began developing breasts.
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She peeked under my towel and a surprised look came over her face, Cuascud, now age 42, recalled. Then she rushed me to the nearest hospital.
At the small local clinic near her home in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, doctors ran a battery of tests on Cuascud before sending her by ambulance to a larger regional hospital where she was poked and prodded some more, she said. No one stopped to explain anything to her and she said she said she remembers feeling scared, alone and confused.
Doctors were confounded as to why Cuascud was hitting puberty so early. Besides breast growth, she had also sprouted pubic and underarm hair and went through a sudden, dramatic growth spurt. They were even more puzzled, she recalled, when she began menstruating shortly before she turned 7.
Puberty Comes Earlier
The average of age of puberty has been getting steadily lower since the early 20th century, when girls had their first period at age 16 or 17, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Now the average age for a first period is closer to 12, with one University of Cincinnati study reporting that about 10 to 15 percent of girls enter puberty at age 7 or younger, a phenomenon known as precocious puberty. This is up from just 5 percent in similar studies conducted in the early 1990s.
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How Will I Know When My Periods Are Going To Start
Signs that your period is on its way are if you’ve grown underarm and pubic hair. Typically, you’ll start your periods about 2 years after your breasts start growing and about a year after getting a white vaginal discharge. The average girl will get her first period around 12 years old, but it varies from person to person.
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Who Is This Quiz For
The quiz is designed for girls aged over the age of 8 years who have not yet started their periods, but who have started to show some signs of puberty. It consists of seven simple questions relating to changes in your body that might indicate your period is on its way.
Each time you select an answer you will be given some information about the symptoms you are experiencing and what they might mean and, at the end, your result will give you an indication of whether your first period might be on its way.
Quiz: When will I get my first period?
Obesity And Early Puberty
In 2013, the Childhood Obesity Foundation found 42 infants and young children were overweight or obese worldwide. In 2025, there will be 70 million overweight or obese infants and young children, if the current trend continues. That is insane.
Now, you might be wondering how exactly this relates to the onset of your period, so let me explain. Fat cells make estrogen, so the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen you have in your body. If youve been checking out our previous blog posts or our Instagram , you know that estrogen is what makes your uterine lining thicken. When the lining of your uterus thickens and isnt fertilized with an egg, it will begin to shed and voila: period.
There are a few things you can do to combat this. Of course, there are medical reasons that contribute to weight gain as a child, and sometimes theres not a ton that can be done . But overall, make sure your kids are eating well and getting lots of exercise. I know 4-year olds spending more time using an iPad or watching television than paying attention to their surroundings, and thats a bad habit to get into. Dont go taking away your kids electronics, but make sure the have a balance in their lives.
Image via Instagram
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When To Contact A Doctor
Although it is normal for periods to be somewhat irregular to begin with, it is a good idea to talk with a doctor if they do not settle into a regular rhythm or if they cause symptoms that disrupt daily life.
The frequency and heaviness of periods, and any symptoms that accompany them, can be an important indicator of a females health.
It is a good idea for a person to talk with a doctor if they or a young female in their care experiences:
- a heavy flow that requires pad or tampon changes every 12 hours
- severe pain or mood changes that prevent normal activities
- no periods for 3 months or longer after the first period
- periods that occur sooner than 21 days apart or longer than 35 days apart
- periods that last for 7 days or longer
- no period by the age of 15 years old
Emergency medical help is necessary if someone develops any symptoms of TSS, which
What Affects The Age You Start Menopause
Certain factors may affect when you begin menopause. Your family history, medical conditions, and hormones all play a role in when menopause is likely to occur for you.
Smoking may influence the age of menopause onset. Studies have found that smoking during the reproductive years was significantly associated with earlier menopause.
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Periods And Additional Needs
Periods can be especially challenging for young people with additional needs and their parents. If your child has moderate to severe intellectual disability, they might not understand why theyre experiencing changes to their body and mood.
Your child still needs to know about periods and the menstrual cycle at a level they can understand. Your GP, or other health professionals involved in your childs care, can recommend resources you can use with your child, like books and visual aids. You could also speak to your childs school about support.
What Does It Mean To Get Your First Period
Your body begins to produce adult levels of hormones during puberty. A period happens when your brain sends a signal to your ovaries to release hormones called estrogen and progesterone.
Every month, starting around the first period, estrogen and progesterone hormones prepare your body for a possible pregnancy. This causes the lining of your uterus to build up. This buildup is to prepare for a fertilized egg to attach and begin development.
After about a month of buildup without an egg attaching, the buildup will break down and bleed. This blood is what is seen during a period. This cycle repeats every month and is called a menstrual cycle.
Its common for a cycle not to be regular after a first period. Periods may be hard to predict occurring every 3 weeks, every 2 months apart. This often lasts for the first 1 or 2 years after a first period.
There are apps that can help track periods. Using an app to track in the first couple of years can help spot if anything is very irregular. You can use information from the app to start a conversation with a doctor.
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Mood Changes Before And During Periods
Many people will experience mood changes just before or during the first few days of their periods. These changes can include being a bit irritable or more sensitive, or feeling angry, anxious or even depressed.
This can be hard for your child and the rest of the family to cope with. Giving your child a bit more privacy and space around this time can make it easier for everyone, without making a big deal about it.
If your childs mood changes are upsetting or disrupting their everyday life, they might like to see a health professional, like the GP.
How Often Should I Change My Pad/tampon
You should change a pad before it becomes soaked with blood. Each woman decides for herself what works best. You should change a tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours. Make sure to use the lowest absorbency tampon needed for your flow. For example, use junior or regular tampons on the lightest day of your period. Using a super absorbency tampon on your lightest days increases your risk for toxic shock syndrome . TSS is a rare but sometimes deadly disease. TSS is caused by bacteria that can produce toxins. If your body can’t fight the toxins, your immune system reacts and causes the symptoms of TSS .
Young women may be more likely to get TSS. Using any kind of tampon puts you at greater risk for TSS than using pads. The Food and Drug Administration recommends the following tips to help avoid tampon problems:
- Follow package directions for insertion.
- Choose the lowest absorbency for your flow.
- Change your tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours.
- Consider switching between pads and tampons.
- Know the warning signs of TSS .
- Don’t use tampons between periods.
If you have any of these symptoms of TSS while using tampons, take the tampon out, and contact your doctor right away:
- Sudden high fever
- Muscle aches
Is There Any Treatment For Periods That Haven’t Started
It depends on whats causing the problem.
Hormone therapy may be recommended if the cause is a hormonal imbalance.
If the underlying cause is an eating disorder, treatment will often involve a combination of therapy and advice about your diet.
If too much exercise is thought to be the cause, you may be advised to do less and, if youre underweight, to increase your calorie intake.
Starting Periods At A Young Age Is Linked To Early Menopause
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Women are more likely to go through menopause early if they started menstruating before their 12th birthday.
This is the conclusion of the largest study of its kind, involving 50,000 postmenopausal women in the UK, Australia, Japan and Scandinavia.
On average, a first period arrived around age 13 and the last when the women were 50. But 14 per cent had their first period before they were 12, and 10 per cent had their last period before they turned 45.
To investigate whether there was a link between early menstruation and early menopause, Gita Mishra at the University of Queensland, Australia, and her colleagues performed a statistical analysis, adjusting for possible confounding variables like weight and smoking.
They found that women who began menstruating before the age of 12 were 31 per cent more likely to have an early menopause between the ages of 40 and 44.
Of the women who had their first period when they were 13, only 1.8 per cent had premature menopause , and 7.2 per cent reached menopause early. But in women who had their first period when they were 11 or younger, 3.1 per cent had premature menopause, and 8.8 per cent went through it early.
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Preparing For The First Period
The start of menstruation is a major event in a girls life. Some girls greet those first drops of blood with joy or relief, while others feel bewildered and scared. Whatever the reaction, the arrival of the first period holds the same meaning for every girl: Its proof that shes becoming a woman.
On average, most girls start their periods when theyre 12 or 13 years old . But if you wait until your daughter gets her period to talk to her about menstruation, thats too late.
So, how do you discuss menstruation and offer education, as well as guidance and support, before the big day arrives? Or, what do you tell your son? Before you can discuss menstruation, its important to have a good understanding of how the process works.