How To Talk To Your Son About Periods & Puberty

Dr Nihara KrauseDr Nihara Krause

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Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist




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Talking to boys about periods is a key part of parenting. At first, it may feel awkward, but having open conversations will help them understand that periods are normal, healthy and nothing for girls to be ashamed of.

Here’s some advice on how to talk to your son about puberty and help him understand what periods mean for girls.

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Start conversations early

It’s important to start explaining puberty - and the changes boys & girls go through - early on - ideally before he, or others in his class, start to experience it.

Explaining puberty to your son is the perfect time to introduce the concept of periods. Tell him that girls and boys experience many similar things – such as getting taller, growing hair under the arms and in the pubic area, and feeling new emotions – but that some things are different. For example:

For boys:

  • Boys have testicles where they start to produce sperm during puberty.
  • Sperm is needed to help make babies.

For girls:

  • Girls have ovaries, which contain eggs, and a uterus, where a baby can grow.
  • Every month or so, an egg is released from the ovaries. If this egg is fertilised by sperm, it will then lodge in the lining of the uterus and develop into a baby.
  • If the egg isn’t fertilised, the lining comes out of the vagina approximately once a month, as a period.
  • This monthly process is called the menstrual cycle and is a normal, healthy process a girl’s body goes through.
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Show him period products

As part of the puberty talk with your son, introduce him to the kind of products a girl might use during her period – pads, tampons, period pants and menstrual cups.

To ease any awkwardness he may feel, take him down the ‘period product’ aisle when shopping, then ask him to put away products when you get home. As he does so, unwrap some of the products and explain how they work.

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Talk about PMS

An important part of explaining puberty to your son is to talk about pre-menstrual symptoms that a girl may experience, such as cramps, headaches and bloating.

Tell him that a girl may also feel more sensitive in the run-up to her period and that he shouldn’t take this personally – it might just be to do with her changing hormones.

Explain that it’s important for boys and girls to support each other through puberty, and be mindful of each other’s feelings.

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Do’s and Don’ts

When explaining puberty to your son and talking about periods…

DO be clear and concise

If words like ‘uterus’ and ‘vagina’ are new to him, make sure you clearly explain their meaning.

DON’T use euphemisms

While you might need to explain any slang terms he’s heard, like ‘on the rag’ and ‘Aunt Flo’, use the correct terminology to avoid perpetuating the idea that periods are to be kept hidden or ashamed of.

DO encourage empathy

Talk to him about having a quiet word with a girl to let her know if she’s leaked on her skirt, rather than commenting on it to his friends.

DON’T let him tease girls

Explain that making jokes about periods or teasing a girl because you see pads or tampons in her bag is not a nice way to behave and can make a girl very upset.

DO keep things positive

Avoid any language that inadvertently makes menstruation sound negative or in any way dirty.

DON’T dodge questions

If he asks a question when you’re busy – or if you don’t have the answer – don’t brush it off. Respond as best you can and, if necessary, come back to it later.

Take our Puberty & Period Myths Busted Quiz


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Read the Always Changing & Growing Up Parents

Parent's Guide

Download our Always Changing & Growing Up Parents Guide for more advice on puberty and periods

Watch Your Menstrual Cycle & PeriodsWatch Your Menstrual Cycle & Periods

The menstrual cycle explained in 3 minutes - Watch the video


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