The team at Tampax know how difficult it can feel to initiate 'the period chat' with your daughter, and to mark the release of Tampax Compak Pearl, want to support both parents and teenage girls during this important time.
Dr. Radha Modgil, a GP and media doctor with a specialism in female health has put together some answers to common questions, to help you feel as confident and comfortable as possible when talking to your daughter about her period. So, over to Dr. Radha!
Puberty can be a scary time for your daughter, but it can be a stressful time for mum as well! You're watching your little girl grow up and you want to be there to support and guide her and most importantly to answer any of her questions. To help you feel empowered with all the information you need to reassure her at this confusing time, I've pulled together some answers to some of those big questions that you and your daughter might have.
1. When is the best time to talk to my daughter about periods?
It's a great idea to split up this conversation into little chunks over time rather than having 'the big chat,' which can make some girls feel uncomfortable. Periods tend to start about 2.5 years after breast development begins and 1 year after their growth spurt. These signs can be useful in knowing roughly when you should start to think about talking to them about periods so that they are ready. This time will vary from person to person. The average age to start your period is 12 years old, but it can vary from 8 to 16 years old, so the best advice is to know your daughter as an individual. The really important thing is to let her know you are there and easy to chat to, without judgement or worry.
2. How would you recommend I bring up the topic with her? Do you have any tips for parents who feel embarrassed about broaching the topic with their daughters?
It is understandable that some parents feel worried about how or when to talk to their daughter. Remember why you want to talk to her. You want her to be prepared so she isn't confused or scared, and doesn't feel alone. This should help you in getting over any worries or embarrassment. If you feel embarrassed she is likely to feel the same, or worse! Pick a quiet time when you are alone and approach the subject sensitively. Tell her that you want to chat, even though she might feel embarrassed because you care and you want to empower her. Offer the option of talking things through or give her the choice of reading an information leaflet in private if she feels more comfortable - and respect her decision. Put the offer to her of you buying her some pads to have in case she needs them. Leave it with her and check back with her in a few days. The most important thing is to let her know that you are always there for her to chat to no matter what it is about.
3. What will happen when she gets her first period?
She may get breast tenderness just before she starts her period and get slightly more emotional. When her period starts she may feel some lower tummy cramps. Emotionally she may feel confused, shocked and vulnerable. It is really important to support her at this time. Give her emotional support and explain what these changes are and that they're something to celebrate and not be afraid of. Make sure you give her some pads and help her with how to use them, and talk about tampons as another option for the future. Make a date to take her out and do something nice together.
4. Will she experience PMS when she starts her period?
She may do. It is difficult to know who will be affected by the changes in hormone levels, by how much or when. It is great to let her know about possible PMS symptoms and that she can help herself by exercising, eating well, sleeping well and dealing with stress in a healthy way. Let her know you understand and that if she ever feels emotional, sad or anxious you are there for her. If the symptoms become too much, then you can go with her to see the GP, who can help.
5. How can I help her deal with any symptoms she experiences?
You can talk to her about what they might be before she starts, so she is prepared and not taken by surprise. Let her know if her periods are painful then to talk to you as you can help with simple pain relief or a hot water bottle. Let her know about possibly feeling more emotional, getting more spots and her breasts becoming tender just before her period. Reassure her that you understand and that you can feel this way too, or that you used to. Above all make sure she knows that if she has any feelings which are difficult for her, or any changes she is worried about, you can help or she can see the GP about it, so as to not suffer in silence.
6. How do I know what menstruation/sanitary products are right for her?
Only she can find this out but you can give her some options and chat about sanitary pads, liners and tampons. Buying her some samples she can look at and try will be helpful. Talking about comfort, convenience, the level of protection and discreetness is helpful, but ask her what she would find useful for her individual day to day life, and activities.
It will also depend on how heavy her flow is. She may want higher absorbency, or longer products, at the start of her period and then lighter absorbency products or liners towards the end. The key is to try different options and see what she feels best fits her needs.
7. I haven't brought sanitary products for a while, is there anything new that I should be considering?
There have been some great advances in tampons and pads over the last few years, there are now a lot more options out there, meaning there will be something that fits her needs perfectly. One of the big advances in sanitary pads is that now you can get really absorbent pads that are very thin (normally called "Ultra" pads), compared to the old style thick pads. They have smart technology that means they can absorb lots of fluid without needing lots of material. There are also new tampons that are designed to expand to fit a girl's inner shape, meaning she is really protected and comfortable.
Try visiting the femcare aisle in your local store and to familiarise yourself with the products that are available so you are well informed when it comes to suggesting the right fit for her.
8. What other important information does my daughter need to know about periods?
It is really important to let her know that periods are to be celebrated as a normal part of growing up that they don't need to limit what she does or when she does it, and that she definitely shouldn't be embarrassed. Let her know that you are there to empower her to make her own decisions about what she wants to use for her periods but that you are always there for support and help if she needs it.
9. I don't want my daughter to miss out on anything when she gets her period, how can I encourage her to keep active and social?
Firstly, make sure she has the products she needs to feel protected, so she can confidently participate. Let her know that some sanitary towels and tampons are small enough to carry with her everywhere, and that if she has the right products and the right level of protection then she shouldn't feel limited by her period at all. Secondly, even though socialising and keeping active might be the last things she feels like doing when she has her period, try to reassure her that they may help her feel better. Exercise could help her feel more positive, or even relieve any PMS she is experiencing. Tampons will also allow her to swim during her period, so nothing is out of bounds! You can set your own example by doing anything and everything when you have your period, and share this with her. Finally, let her know that if she's uncomfortable then you can help her with simple pain relief, though definitely suggest a hot water bottle as a first port of call.
Carla Berry, UK Communications Manager for Tampax comments, "At Tampax we are committed to empowering girls to seize every moment of every day with nothing holding them back and believe that while periods have the right to exist, they should not interfere in our lives. As the leaders in feminine care, we have over 70 years of expertise and innovation which we have applied to help create a wealth of information which educates and supports both parents and teenage girls during this important time."
Designed to comfortably fit a woman's inner curves, New Tampax Compact Pearl expands width-wise to eliminate the gaps that can cause leaks, meaning women no longer need to feel held back from making the most of every moment. The smooth applicator is built for comfortable insertion and the small size and four new stylish wrapper designs with Quiet & Discreet technology means that it fits discreetly into the palm of your hand.
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