3.7.18

Talking to my Girls About Periods

It's so hard to believe I'm already thinking along these lines, but as a mother of young daughters, it's actually been on my mind for years. Every woman recalls the mystery, fear, thrill, embarrassment, questions, shame, and life-altering month her period began. It's part of being female and affects 50% of the world, and yet it's still a taboo subject and something I think we often get wrong when discussing with our children. Knixteen asked me how I planned to discuss periods with my girls, and I was eager to chime in.


Even at ages 4 and 7, would you believe we've already had many discussions about periods? My son has actually been there for half of them, too! My parenting philosophy with all taboo subjects (sex too, though I'll share about that in other posts) is to start early and discuss often. My plan is to demystify periods and make them normal, because they are normal. My girls seem years away from puberty and I'm in no hurry for them to grow up, but I think it's so important for them to hear about periods and other puberty topics from the adults they trust the most - their parents - and to hear these things with comfort.  Did you know the average age when girls begin menstruating has dropped to 10.5 in recent years? I was in grade 7 when I got my first period, but now girls are commonly getting their periods in grades 3-5.

I never set out to have The Talk with my girls about periods, because many talks sprouted up naturally. Sometimes I'd ask for privacy so I could change my diva cup, or they would see the string of a tampon as I was changing, or come across a box of tampons in the bathroom and ask what they were for. It would have been easy to brush their curiosities away and table the discussion for much later, but the reality is, I don't know when my girls will get their periods, so it's best to have them well prepared ahead of time, and for them to be sure (as a result of many conversations) what's happening and why. Here's a sample script of something I've said to my little girls when they've asked about tampons/diva cups/blood:

Kids: What's this for? (pad, tampon, diva cup)

Me: Oh that's for me to use when I get my period. It's something that happens to all women, where for a couple of days each month some blood comes out of my body. This helps me catch that blood so it doesn't go all over my clothes. It's not blood like when you hurt yourself - my period isn't because I'm hurt and it doesn't hurt (I don't want to scare them, though I'll mention cramps as they get closer to having their period, haha! They are usually worried when they see blood, so I want to reassure that I'm not hurt and periods aren't an injury).

Kids: Why do you get your period? Why are you bleeding?

Me: The blood that comes out of my body every month is blood my body doesn't need. If I were pregnant and had a baby in my tummy, there wouldn't be blood, so blood comes out every month that I am not pregnant. The blood will just come out a little bit at a time for a few days and then it will go away. I'm not bleeding because I'm hurt, it's a normal part of being an older girl.

Kids: When will I have my period?

Me: All females will one day have a period. It's something that happens in your body as a sign that you're growing up. Every girl gets her period at different times, but usually it's around age 10 or 11. When you get closer to that time, we'll make sure you always have pads with you to put in your underwear if it starts and you're not at home. If ever you see blood in your underwear or in the toilet when you go pee, make sure you let me know so I can help you with it. Daddy knows about periods too, so if I'm not home, you can always talk to him. If you're at school, find a female teacher. Did you know all female teachers have their periods too? They'll know how to help you.

As I said, we've had these discussions many times and every time the aim is the same: to normalize periods, to help them feel safe and comfortable about what will happen, to teach them about their bodies and above all, to make the whole thing as positive as possible.

Growing up, my mom and dad both did a great job of this. As the younger sister, I saw my older sister go through it all before me, but I knew I could always ask my mom questions and she made sure I knew where to find the pads if it came when she wasn't home. After a few periods I was ready to try out tampons, and my mom was really helpful and nonchalant about helping me. I know I may be in the minority, but I also have a dad who was very supportive and open about these things. I remember a few months after my first period my mom and sister were away for the weekend and I got my period when it was just my dad and I at home. He bought me pads and didn't make me feel embarrassed or ashamed, which I think is a really common feeling for young girls entering puberty. Brad has always been the same - he'll pick up tampons at the store for me if he's out and I need them just as he would pick up milk. It's not a thing, and I'm really grateful that he's been this way since day one, even though he didn't grow up with sisters or have any previous experience living with women (aside from his mom).

A couple of years ago I switched to using the Diva Cup, mainly for environmental reasons. I absolutely love that they're zero-waste and how much more comfortable they are, but on my heaviest day, I would still need a tampon to prevent leaking. I figured wearing a tampon for one day per month was much better than five days per month, so I accepted that this would be my norm. Last year, however, I has a real scare. I had TSS from a tampon that was left inside of me. It took several doctors to figure it out because the tampon was so hidden away! I lived with TSS for six weeks while on antibiotics for what the doctor's thought was an infection. They think the antibiotics, though given for a misdiagnosis, could have saved me from more serious complications from the TSS. It was a terrifying and eye-opening experience! Now I use my Diva Cup exclusively, and on those days where I leak, I wear Knixwear leakproof underwear which are way thinner than any pantyliner or pad and look and feel like legit underwear. They literally look exactly like my normal underwear, but they save me from any leaks that the Diva Cup causes.

I have some Knixteen underwear saved for when my girls need them, and I love the concept! They add that extra layer of protection for peace of mind, especially with girls getting their periods much younger these days. Knixteen is doing a great job normalizing menstruation (see their page Period Talk) which I think is so important! Even though I've been discussing these things with my kids for years, I know many girls don't hear a word about puberty until it's too late and that's devastating to me. I would encourage parents reading this to be proactive about all the taboo things - sex, periods, child birth, puberty - and not wait for your kids to ask you questions. They may be too shy to ask, or they may assume you don't know the answer! I cringe at the thought of my kids hearing of these utmost important topics for the first time from a friend, a teacher, or the Internet. As parents it's on us to start the conversations and to let our kids know that there's no issue or question that's too weird or off limits for us. Invite their queries and pose questions yourself. Show them you know about these topics and that you're absolutely comfortable talking about them, and that you're the safest place. It's wonderful watching my daughters bloom before my very eyes and I want to support them every step of the way.

This post was in collaboration with Knixteen.
All opinions are 100% my own.
To book a collaboration, contact me.

10 comments:

  1. You are such a good parent. Go you! With regard to girls getting their periods earlier, I'm no health professional but all the girls I've seen who've gone through puberty early are ones who are carrying too much weight, particularly around their middles. I think that the insulin resistance, which that creates, messes with their hormones. Just a thought.

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    1. Thank you so much for that encouragement! Yes, I think there's definitely a lot of health factors regarding early menstruation. My friend is a teacher and she had an obese student who got her period in grade 2! How sad :( I'm hoping for my girls' sakes that they start later on!

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  2. Anonymous4.7.18

    That was not my experience as a very chubby teen who didn`t get her period till 4 months short of 16! Unfortunately at that time we still required elastic belts to hold up sanitary napkins (which was better than the rewashable cloths which my mothers` generation used). This dates me but I was so thankful for the sanitary napkins and tampons that were available when my 4 daughters came to this special time in their lives!

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    1. Oh I'll bet! Thankfully innovations are making periods easier all the time, aren't they? I really love the period underwear to wear in case of leaks too - I wish I had those when I was a teen!

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  3. My sons saw drops of blood on the toilet once and so I explained that I have an egg inside my body that when not fertilized drops and is bloody. They were probably 6 and 8 when this happened and they already knew a LOAD about how animals make babies and such and understood fertilization, so it was easy for them. Now when I have my period they ask if my egg dropped. haha. They were really cool about it and always are kind to me when they know I have it because my husband told them that losing an egg causes chemicals that make my emotions a little messy too. Anyway, now they understand that girls get periods at different ages usually around pre-teen/early teen years.
    I don't have daughters.
    +Victoria+

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    1. Victoria I think it's great that you're explaining things to your sons as well! They will be more understanding and empathetic as they interact more and more with women (and will make great husbands!)

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  4. P.S. I have been using a mooncup for 4 years now and loveeeeee it. I knew about diva cup 12 years ago and am sad I didn't get it back then.

    My mom handled the period talk terribly!!! I basically found out about it through sex-ed class because she was just so bad at explaining it to me. Then I was mad that I had to get it so much later than everyone else around me. She didn't really help me in that way either. haha. I was 14 and knew so many girls who had it at 9 or 10. I am glad now that I was 14 when I first got it hahaha.
    +Victoria+

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    1. I'm totally in the "earlier is better" camp!

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  5. What a great article, thanks for sharing! It’s such a great idea to normalise periods from a young age, I’m sure it will make things easier for them once they reach puberty - well done!

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  6. Ana Alves17.7.18

    It is lovely to hear that you are so open with your children about such a normal part of life. My daughter is three and a half and is fascinated with the human body and how it works, she already knows about periods and tampons and that babies grow in the uterus and that she was a vaginal birth. I plan on talking freely with her about all the questions she might have. Keep up the good work.

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