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What the young women you know need to know about periods

As the iconic coming-of-age read “Our Bodies, Ourselves” turns 40, there is a whole new class of young women who are just learning about periods, cramps and feminine hygiene. And they need your advice.

By Amber McKenna, Emerita, on Sep 7, 2011 | 1 comments



Do you remember the first time “it” happened? Whether you have a daughter, niece, granddaughter or mentee, sooner or later a young girl may come to you to ask for advice…or more simply put “What the heck is going on?”

The average age girls get their period is 12, but today the majority of girls begin menstruating anywhere between the ages of 8 and 15.

And as the kiddos go back to school this month, there’s no better time to prep them with period advice. Maybe the girl you know has already gotten her period, maybe not, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need some words of practical wisdom from someone who’s been there.

Anytime, anyplace

There’s never a great place to start bleeding without notice, but for a girl new to having her period, school is likely the most abhorrent.

Make sure your youth is prepared with a pantyliner or pad just in case. A tween might feel self-conscious carrying a pad in her pocket, so a cleverly-disguised pencil case, like these, could be perfect for stowing her feminine supplies in her backpack.

Let her know that even though she and her friends might not talk about periods, some of them are probably getting them too.



Happens to most all of us

Girls need to know that getting your period is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a natural part of being a girl—there’s nothing wrong with you.

Share your own period stories (save the traumatic tales about those white jeans you used to own), and have a real conversation. She’s nervous about her body changing and probably has a few questions she’d like answered.

If you are related, tell her about the experiences of other women in your family, as hers will likely be similar. For example, she is more likely to get cramps if her female family members had cramps too.

Be the voice of reassurance—they can still swim, run, play and do everything they normally like to do. Other kids at school won’t know she is on her period.



Clarify misinformation

You can bet that she has heard a few things about periods from her friends at school, older cousins or TV shows and books. But it’s very important that her information is accurate. A well-written and illustrated book like “The Care and Keeping of You,” “The Period Book,” and “What’s Happening to My Body.”

If the girl you know has the facts, having her period will be less scary—and she’ll be a great source of information for her friends who might not have someone to talk to about this kind of thing.

Some online resources that do a good job of answering questions for girls include: BeingGirl.com, Girl’s Life, and Girl’s Health.

Also, If she’s going to start using tampons, make sure your girl knows about tampon-related Toxic Shock Syndrome, a rare but serious infection.

Supplies

The Feminine Care aisle can be pretty daunting when you’re a first timer. Run the gauntlet of period supplies with your girl and let her know her options. There are many different shapes and sizes of pantyliners and pads out there, as well as tampons—when she’s ready. There are reusable feminine hygiene options she can explore later on, too.

Most importantly, make sure she’s using the natural products, free of chemicals and plastics. She will use 12,000 tampons over the course of her menstruating life, and it’s important that she knows what she’s putting in her body.


Essentials


What else does a period beginner need to know? Here are a few:

> How do I get a period stain out of clothing fast?
Cold water and baking soda, rub, rinse, repeat.

> How do I cover up a period stain when I'm in a public place?
Tie a sweater around your waist. Or publicly spill water in your lap, giving you a clear reason for needing to change.

> How do I know if my period is “normal”?
Keep track on a calendar of when, each month, you have your period. When first starting, periods can be sporadic, but eventually your body will get on a track of having a 3- to 7-day period every 28 days. (If your periods last longer than 7 days, or are particularly painful see your health care practitioner.)

Make it special

Give a gift like period panties that she can wear overnight for extra protection (like these, these and these), a body book like the ones mentioned earlier, or take your girl out to dessert. Do something to commemorate this transitional time in her life.

A little advice can go along way!

Find More
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Shop Emerita 100% Organic Cotton Tampons and 100% Natural Cotton Pads & Pantyliners now!