It’s a time that most parents and carers with a daughter, or a transgender or nonbinary child who was born biologically female, will eventually have to prepare for: talking to them about periods. We think this is best done sooner, rather than later, as the signs your daughter is about to start her period could come earlier than you think.
This is why we’ve put together a little pack on everything you need to know to be prepared.
What age should my daughter get her first period?
The average age that a girl will start having periods is around 12. However, it is possible for them to start when they’re a bit younger than this. Some girls have been recorded as getting their first periods at the age of 8, so it’s important for your kids to learn some of the basics while they’re young ‒ just in case they’re one of the few.
The main signs your daughter is about to start her period will be some of the same signs that she’s started puberty. Signs of puberty to particularly watch out for include the growth of underarm hair and pubic hair. Periods will also typically come about two years after breasts start growing, and about a year after your child has their first white vaginal discharge.
Signs that your child will soon start their period
It’s possible that your child will start their first period without any specific outward signs leading up to it, but in some cases they may first experience premenstrual tension (PMT), which you might also hear talked about as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Signs of PMS that you or your child might notice include:
- Back pain
- Bloating in the abdomen area
- Clear or white vaginal discharge
- Feeling more emotional than usual
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Food cravings, especially for sweets or other junk food
- Soreness in the breasts
Talking to your child about their first period
We all know how difficult this time is for someone in the process of growing up, so talking about this topic in plenty of time should help your child to feel relaxed and safe in the knowledge that it’s all completely natural.
Of course, your child starting periods is also a sign that their body is now able to get pregnant. As such, you may also wish to bring up the possibility of them going on the Pill (it’s not just for preventing pregnancy; it’s also very useful for making periods regular), and talking with them about safe sex and contraception.
How to begin the conversation
Starting a period can often be scary, and it’s, unfortunately, embarrassing for many. A lot of the time, culture and upbringing will have placed a heavy stigma on it, and it’s been recorded that nearly half of 14-21-year-olds have been made to feel like their menstrual cycle is a bad thing. We want this to stop, so we believe in talking about it openly and casually.
Think of talking about periods as part of an everyday conversation, rather than a formal sit-down talk that a teen or preteen is likely to think of as “weird” and uncomfortable. Waiting until an ad for tampons or sanitary pads comes up on TV could be the perfect opportunity, or taking a trip through the feminine hygiene section with them in the supermarket.
During one of these conversations you might also think about asking your child what they already know (don’t just bring it up out of the blue!). Often, kids will cover topics like puberty and sex education in the last year of primary school and the start of secondary, so they may already know more than you think.
Remember to be clear and straightforward with what you mean when you start these talks ‒ getting caught up in confusing language or using too many terms straight out of a biology textbook might accidentally create more questions than answers!
Making it normal for your family
You should also remember to talk about starting periods to boys as well, so that they learn to understand them and the reasons they happen. Learning all about the practicalities, changes in mood that come with period cycles, and a little bit about what one of their siblings might be experiencing will keep them informed.
Dads, stepdads, and other male relatives and carers can help by showing support as well, and having a shelf for menstrual products out in the bathroom makes it seem like just another part of life, as it is.
Making periods normal for everyone in your family helps to educate a new generation, so eventually no one will have to feel awkward or ashamed of their menstrual cycle ever again.
Questions your kids could ask
Naturally, a child around this age is going to have questions about their bodies and what might happen when they start their periods. We’ve listed a few below, with a few suggestions for answers (italicised) if you think you might get stuck.
“Why haven’t my periods started yet?”
You’ll start your period when your body is ready. It usually happens around the age of 12, but it’s normal for it to happen at any time between the ages of 10 and 16. It may simply be a case of waiting.
It’s also important to know that if your child hasn’t started their period by the age of 16, or hasn’t shown any signs of puberty by the age of 14, then it’s best to seek medical advice.
“What can I do to get ready for my first period?”
You can always talk to a parent, or to another trusted adult, if you have any questions about what you can expect. Carrying pads or tampons with you in a bag in advance is also a good idea, so you’ll never find yourself without one.
If you start suddenly while you’re at school and you don’t have any spare, you might be able to ask a teacher or the school nurse for some.
“How long will my period last?”
It’s possible that it won’t last for very long the first time around, as your body often needs time to get used to the change and to form a regular pattern. Once your body is used to its periods, they should happen roughly every 21 to 35 days. Over this time, the period itself should last between two and seven days.
“How much blood will come out in a period?”
It’s possible you’re worried that it’ll be a lot, and it might seem that way at first, but really it’s only between three and five tablespoons. It won’t all come at once, either. Instead, you might find stains on your bedsheets, in your underwear, or on toilet paper once you’ve used it.
The stains you might find can be a range of colours, depending on where you are in your cycle and how heavy the period is. If it’s light, they can be closer to pink or brown, or get nearer to red or even black if the period is heavier.
“What if period blood leaks through my clothes?”
There are ways you can cover this up if it does happen, until you’re able to get changed. Tying a sweatshirt around your middle can often make great cover, and it’s never a bad idea to keep a spare pair of underwear and tights handy in your bag at school.
“Will I smell while on my period?”
Just like the colour of blood on a period, the way a vagina smells can vary at different times, too. It’s perfectly natural and nothing to worry about, but if you’re worried that other people will notice if they get too close, just keep up regular hygiene routines and washing. They won’t be able to smell a thing.
Don’t use strong deodorants, body sprays, or perfumes on your private parts to try and make the smell go away, though. The vagina is naturally acidic, and it’s supposed to stay that way!
“Should I use pads, tampons, or menstrual cups?”
This is completely up to you. All of them are safe to use, but period pants are comfortable and easy to wear — you just wear them like normal underwear and they work like a“built-in” sanitary pad.
“Can a tampon get lost or stuck?”
Tampons can’t get lost; they’ll stay inside your vagina once inserted and can easily be pulled out with the string they have attached that hangs outside your body.
If you forget to take a tampon out, there is a chance that it could turn sideways or become compressed at the top of your vagina. This might make it difficult to take out. If this happens, the best thing to do is go to a doctor or to a local sexual health clinic. They’ll be able to take it out for you.
“How much will my period hurt?”
How much a period hurts will be different for everyone. For some, there might only be a little bit of pain, like a slight stomach ache, and for others it might be more uncomfortable than this. Having a hot water bottle handy and plenty of painkillers will help to take care of any pain or discomfort.
If your child is experiencing severe pain while on their periods, please ask for advice from a medical professional.
Knowing your facts
If there’s anything that your child asks about and you don’t know the answer to, you shouldn’t be afraid to look up the answer. Getting the facts right is key for something your kids will go through for a large part of their lives, so looking up information from reliable sources (such as the NHS) is the best course of action.
You might even think of looking up the information together, and turn it into a bonding experience that shows your kids they can trust you with anything that might be bothering them. It also helps to show how much you care about them and their wellbeing, which should make you closer as a whole.
Keeping them comfortable every month
We all remember the earliest days of our periods, and how worrying and embarrassing they could be. We want to help make sure that doesn’t happen for your child, so we’ve come up with our own ranges of period-proof undies for teens and tweens!
These super-soft, totally absorbent, and completely comfy knickers are safe to wear all day, so there’s no need to change them at school, like pads or tampons! There's different styles to cover all menstrual flows and even better, they can go straight in the wash as soon as your child gets home and gets changed, so they’ll be ready for use again another time.
Help your kids feel confident and secure when they need it most, and always feel free to make use of our 60-day return policy if the undies aren’t exactly right.