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Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Answering questions about puberty can sometimes be tricky. So to help, we’ve provided answers to girls’ most pressing questions in this puberty information for parents article.
What is Puberty?
Puberty is a time of physical and emotional changes that all girls go through as they grow and mature. These changes usually start between ages 9 and 13, and include:
What is vaginal discharge?
Vaginal discharge is a natural ﬂuid that helps prevent the vagina from drying out and protects it from infections. It is clear or milky white-ish and may increase at different times of the month.
When a girl notices discharge in her underwear during puberty, parents can recommend using pantyliners to help her feel fresh and clean all day. Pantyliners can also provide reassurance if she thinks she’s about to start her period.
Why do women get Periods?
Firstly, remind your child that periods are a healthy sign of the body growing and being able to carry a baby (if that’s what she chooses to do one day).
Then watch Your Menstrual Cycle & Periods - what you need to know in less than 3 minutes together to help explain the science behind periods in an easy-to-understand way.
When will I start my Period?
Explain that there is no right time for her ﬁrst period to come and that every girl is different.
In general, girls can expect their ﬁrst period about two years after the ﬁrst signs of breasts developing, usually between the ages of 10 and 16. Many girls get their ﬁrst period a couple months after noticing vaginal discharge.
If she hasn’t started her period by 16, you might want to make an appointment with your GP.
How much blood will I lose?
The average female loses between 4 and 12 teaspoons of menstrual ﬂuid during her period, but only a small amount of that is blood.
Since her body contains over four litres of blood, explain that it doesn’t miss the little bit lost during a period and replenishes it quickly.
It leaves her body over three to seven days, so only a bit comes out at a time.
What is spotting?
Spotting is light vaginal bleeding that happens between periods. If it happens around her usual period (in other words, just before or after), it can be normal. If it’s happening often or unpredictably, you should check with your doctor.
Do tampons hurt?
Reassure your daughter that using a tampon will not hurt – nor will it mean that she’ll lose her virginity.
Tampons can be used safely by any girl on her period and are particularly useful for girls who like to hit the water during their period.
If she wants to try a tampon, applicator tampons can often be easier to insert. Talk to her about ﬁnding a comfy position – for example, standing with knees slightly bent.
Suggest she watches this video on How to Insert a Tampon.
Can you flush period products?
No! Too many people still believe pads, tampons, wrappers or applicators can be ﬂushed down the toilet.
Encourage her to Bin It – Don’t Flush It! Flushing period products can cause blockages in the drainage system.
Will I get period pains?
While periods themselves don’t hurt, a lot of women experience cramps before, or at the start of, their period. This is caused by the uterus contracting to push out its unneeded lining (the endometrium).
But she doesn’t need to suffer. Read the article Helping Her Manage PMS And Cramps to provide support as and when she needs it.
What are the right products for me?
Women come in various shapes and sizes, so explain that there are different products to suit different needs – pads with and without wings, tampons with or without applicators, even menstrual cups and period pants.
What should I do if I get my period at school?
Help her prepare for it. Give her some period products that she can put in her schoolbag or locker and reassure her that if she does get caught off guard she can talk with a trusted adult or school nurse who should have period products available.
Worst case - she can make a makeshift pad out of toilet paper until she’s able to get a proper pad.
Can I calculate when I'll get my next period?
Not knowing when your period is going to come can be a source of anxiety – especially as, in the ﬁrst year, they can be quite erratic.
You can help her ﬁgure out how many days there are in her menstrual cycle by using our Period Tracker – and make sure she’s prepped with pads and pantyliners just in case.