Let’s face it; women are pretty amazing. Our bodies are strong, powerful, and incredibly resilient. As parents, we want to pass on that sense of relentless courage and self-confidence to our children. However, growing up can be an awkward time for young adults. From acne to changing bodies, adolescence is a vulnerable stage in our lives. It’s hard to feel like a superwoman when faced with the obstacle of our first period.
Period talks don’t have to be awkward.
The Woman’s Clinic is here to promote periods without shame. Learn more about how to talk to your daughter about periods and remove the embarrassment around menstruation. This is an important time to discuss women’s health in a safe, comfortable environment. Informing our daughters about feminine healthcare empowers them to feel confident in their bodies.
Growing up comes with enough embarrassing moments. Our amazing bodies shouldn’t be one of them. Celebrate women’s health with openness, honesty, and pride. Your friends at TWC will be here for every step of the journey.
Erasing Period Shame Starts with Us
The innovative, women-owned period underwear company, THINX, published a study in the New York Post to find out more about how periods affect people who menstruate. Of the 1,500 women and 500 men that were surveyed, 58 percent of women reported feeling a sense of embarrassment simply because they were on their period. Even more concerning, 42 percent of women experienced period-shaming, with one in five being made to have these feelings because of comments made by a male friend.
73 percent of women have hidden a tampon en route to the ladies’ room and 63 percent purposefully wear clothes that hide stains. 29 percent of women admitted to canceling plans due to their period, such as swimming, exercising, and even road trips.
Menstruation is one of the most natural functions in the world. It is a sign of health and fertility, a hallmark of womanhood and something to be celebrated, not stigmatized. Breaking down barriers around period shame starts at home. How we talk to our daughters about periods shapes how they perceive their bodies, themselves, and the society they’re helping create.
Tips for Talking About Periods
As Tampax says, let’s normalize normal. Drop the drama surrounding period talks by having an open, honest conversation. Too much build-up to “the talk” can lead to anxiety, shyness, and discomfort around the subject. Instead, bring your daughter into the conversation by asking how she feels about starting her period if any of her friends have started theirs and talked about it, and how girls can support each other through this particularly hectic time of the month.
Additional tips for talking to your daughter about her menstrual cycle include:
- Stick to the facts. You don’t need to be an expert to guide the conversation, but it’s a good idea to be as clear and informed as possible about what a period is, why periods happen, and how your daughter may feel at when “that time of the month” strikes.
- Be helpful, be prepared. Discuss practical tips for what to expect before and during a period. Don’t be afraid to share your own experiences, even the “embarrassing” ones! We’re in this together and sharing stories is a great reminder that we’re all human.
- Don’t lecture. Rather than planning out an at-home health class, lead the conversation as a discussion and encourage your daughter to ask questions and express her thoughts.
- Talk period products. This ain’t your mama’s maxi pad. Period products have evolved and become far more diverse over the years. Even if your daughter isn’t comfortable using tampons or cups yet, discuss the full array of products with her so she is informed on what is available and how each product works. Explore different kinds of pads from more flexible sport options to overnight options for full protection. Period underwear (and period swimwear!) are the latest innovations to hit the feminine hygiene scene. These products are not only convenient and comfortable for young people with periods, but they’re also sustainable and eco-friendly. Plan a shopping trip to try different period products and encourage your daughter to choose the one she is most comfortable with. Let her know this is about her and her body, not what her friends may use or what others recommend.
- Start a period tracker. Tracking your period is a great way to keep track of your health as a woman. It can also be a helpful tool for planning one’s activities and avoiding potentially uncomfortable situations. Always has a handy period calculator as well as an app to help young people get used to anticipating their menstrual cycle.
- Talk to boys about periods. All children are curious about the human body. Part of removing period shame is informing all people of everyday health facts and normalizing women’s health. Don’t be afraid to talk to your sons about periods as well as your daughters. This is a great way to empower young people to grow up informed, empathetic, and considerate.
Openness and honesty are the best tools for engaging in a discussion about periods with our children and building a sense of empowerment in their health.
Dispelling Period Myths
TWC is settling period myths once and for all. With all the misinformation surrounding periods, it’s equally important to let your daughters know what NOT to expect.
- Swimming. Yes, you can swim with your period! But you will need a tampon or period swimwear.
- Tampons. No, tampons do not affect one’s virginity. While it is possible to stretch or break the hymen by using a tampon, it is important to note that this is nothing to be afraid of. Some women tear their hymens from everyday activities like biking, while others are born with hymens that may not be fully intact. Regardless, sexual intimacy is a consensual decision, not a small biological change.
- Timing. Periods may not always be on time, especially when we first start. Spotting and irregularities are often expected and typically do not indicate any underlying health conditions.
- All People Get Periods. Women are not the only people affected by periods. Some women do not get periods, while others may not identify as female, but still get periods. Acknowledging that periods are a human condition is a great step in normalizing menstruation.
- No Secrets, Just Confidence. The idea that periods shouldn’t be talked about is an outdated concept that creates shame and harms our community. Teach girls that talking about their periods is normal and acceptable. No more hiding tampons!
Celebrating Women’s Health and Wellness
Our first period is often an introduction to the topic of feminine health. Use this time to talk to your daughter about women’s wellness. This includes a discussion of what a pap smear is and what they can expect at their first visit to the gynecologist. Even if that time may be far in the future, it’s important to remove the fear and anxiety surrounding annual pap smears and other women’s wellness visits.
Plan on discussing common women’s health issues such as yeast infections, UTIs, and hormonal changes. Knowing about these topics beforehand makes them far less “scary” when they occur for the first time. It also empowers young women to feel comfortable talking to medical professionals about these topics and normalizes the idea of seeking treatment for conditions that are often wrongly perceived as embarrassing.
Many parents find it helpful to talk about the HPV vaccine during the period talk. Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a serious health risk that affects all people. Let your child know the options for preventing HPV and how they can keep themselves safe and protected during intimacy.
Change can be a daunting prospect, not just for adolescents, but for parents as well. Learning how to talk to your daughter about her period takes the shame out of change and empowers the next generation of superwomen. Reach out to TWC today for all of your health and wellness needs. Looking for more answers? Check out our women’s wellness community and stay informed on your personal healthcare needs.