Preparing Your Daughter for Her First Period

Thanks to Orange Park Medical Center for helping parents open the dialogue with their daughters about puberty.

periodIt’s a tough conversation to have. If your daughter has questions about her menstrual cycle, glance over this kid-friendly Q&A recommended by Dr. Jade Pizarro, a gynecologist at Orange Park Medical Center and mom to two young girls, to help answer any questions. You’ll definitely want to keep these answers in your back pocket.

The arrival of your daughter’s first period is a significant event in her life. “Some girls greet the start of menstruation with excitement or relief, others can feel scared or even panicked,” says Dr. Pizarro. The best way to provide support for your daughter is to be there to answer common questions about menstruation in a way that makes both of you feel comfortable and at ease.

Q: What is a period?
A: Each month, a woman’s body releases a little blood and body tissue. This process typically lasts for five days. Blood flow can be light, moderate or heavy, and there can be a total of two to four tablespoons of blood. It is a physical indication that the body is mature enough to have a baby.

Q: When will I get my period?
A: Most girls, on average, start their periods around the ages of 12 or 13 years old. Physical changes such as breast development or pubic hair are signs she is entering puberty and her period may be coming soon.

Q: What other symptoms are associated with periods?
A: During the course of her period, cramps, headaches, fatigue and acne may occur. Cramps can be eased by putting a heating pad on the abdominal region or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. Headaches and fatigue can be controlled with over-the-counter medication as well. Talk to her doctor for some more symptom management information.

Q: What is PMS?
A: One to two weeks before her period, your daughter may experience sore breasts, bloating, mood swings, food cravings, and stomach issues. Remind her that these normal symptoms indicate her period is on its way. Make sure your daughter gets plenty of rest, exercise and eats a balanced diet to counter these changes.

Q: Are pads or tampons better?
A: Have your daughter use whatever makes her more comfortable. Starting off, your daughter might prefer pads. If she is a swimmer or wants to go swimming, tampons are a better option. Make sure to provide guidance on how and when to use each option.

Q: Why do only girls have periods?
A: Explain to your daughter that boys change in different ways during puberty. Having a period each month is part of the process to prepare girls for pregnancy.

Dr. Pizarro says, just remember it is important to talk to your daughter about menstruation in an open, appropriate way. While it may be an awkward or somewhat embarrassing topic, it’s important to educate your child on the important changes happening in her life.

Dr. Pizarro is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She grew up in Clay County and has been delivering babies at Orange Park Medical Center since 2011 and providing women’s care to the community as an OBGYN for over 10 years.

About Orange Park Medical Center

Orange Park Medical Center, serving Clay County and its surrounding communities, is a full-service, acute care hospital with 317 inpatient beds. Orange Park Medical Center is a Joint Commission Top-Performing Hospital, ranked as one of the best hospitals in the country for heart, lung and surgical care.

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