Get the facts about first periods

Her period is coming – ready or not. Preparing to have the talk with your daughter is an important step. Here you’ll find all the facts about puberty you need to inform your daughter, answer her questions, and clear up any confusion she may have.

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growing up

Your daughter's body is changing every day as she starts becoming a woman. What can you expect?

Somewhere between the ages of 8 and 14, a girl's body starts changing on the outside. But changes on the inside have already been in the works, preparing her body for puberty. The chemicals in the body that produce these changes are called hormones.

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Most girls get their first period between the ages of 9 and 16. It follows the development of breasts, hips, waist, pubic hair and a growth spurt.

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As a rule of thumb, most girls weigh at least 100 pounds before beginning menstruation.

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Before puberty, girls have flat chests and nipples. When puberty arrives, they develop breast buds, where the breasts rise slightly and the areola (the pinkish area around each nipple) grows wider and darker. As the breasts and the areolas continue to grow, the areolas and nipples may stick out from the rest of the breast. As growth continues, only the nipple continues to stick out.

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Pubic hair begins to grow during early puberty. Usually it is in the shape of an upside-down triangle and starts a few inches below the navel. The hair may grow up a little toward the navel and out onto the inner thighs.

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Around the same time breast growth begins, hair begins to grow in girls’ underarms and on girls’ legs.

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Girls will start to grow taller about the time their breasts begin to develop. This growth spurt brings them to about 95% of their full height.

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Sweat glands “switch on.” You might want your daughter to start using a deodorant or antiperspirant and remind her that good hygiene will keep her smelling and feeling fresh and clean.

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Pimples may appear, caused by oil blockages in pores. Pimples can often be managed by keeping the face clean and the pores unclogged.

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A girl’s weight increases about 10–20 percent during puberty. This weight gain is normal and healthy. However, as in every stage of life, good nutrition and exercise are important to maintain a healthy body.

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her first period

So your daughter has gotten her first period – now what? Brush up on the facts of menstruation.

A girl's period, called menstruation, is the monthly discharge of blood and tissue from her uterus that exits her body through the vaginal opening.

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Before getting their periods, girls will also experience vaginal discharge, which is thin, clear or whitish mucus that shows up in their underwear. It’s a completely normal part of puberty.

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If a girl's discharge is a dark color, or it itches, burns or has a strong odor, consult a doctor to check for possible infection.

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Every month a girl has a period, one egg will develop and leave the ovary. This is called ovulation.

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While ovulation is happening, a girl's body produces a hormone called estrogen to prepare for a possible pregnancy, which makes the lining of the uterus thick and hospitable for a fetus.

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Periods happen when an egg released from the ovaries isn’t fertilized by the time it reaches the uterus. The egg dissolves and the excess uterine lining is shed as blood through the vagina.

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Usually a first period is very light. It will probably be a few spots of bright red blood or a brown sticky stain that shows up on a girl's underwear.

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Periods can last between two and seven days. Most girls have it for about five days.

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Menstrual cycles range anywhere between 21 and 45 days. The average is 28 days, but it will probably be irregular at first.

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PMS symptoms are caused by hormonal changes that take place before menstruation. As hormone levels even out, PMS symptoms gradually disappear. Symptoms of PMS include moodiness, anxiety, headaches, backaches, pimples, nausea, cramping, food cravings and, sometimes, depression.

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A few things can alleviate some or all symptoms of PMS. These include eating well, getting enough sleep, relaxing with a heating pad., gently massaging your stomach, and over-the-counter pain medication.

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common misconceptions

Kids talk, and they may be sharing information that's not exactly correct. Clear up any confusion with facts that set things straight.

While Toxic Shock Syndrome is pretty rare these days, it’s a serious bacterial infection that can affect tampon users. The symptoms of TSS include sudden fever (usually 102° or higher), vomiting, diarrhea, fainting or near fainting when standing up, dizziness and/or a rash that looks like sunburn. TSS can be avoided by changing tampons often (every 4-8 hours) and not using a higher absorbency than what’s needed.

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Treat stains using cold water as soon as possible. Try rubbing salt directly on the stain or presoaking in hydrogen peroxide for 15 to 20 minutes before tossing into a regular load.

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Pads are placed inside your underwear to catch the menstrual fluid that leaves the body during your period. They come in all kinds of absorbencies, shapes and sizes, and are comfortable for most occasions.

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Pads should be changed every 3-4 hours, or as often as needed.

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Tampons are placed inside the vaginal canal, usually with an applicator, to catch the menstrual fluid before it leaves the body. Tampons are discreet and great when participating in sports or swimming.

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Tampons should be changed every 4-8 hours, or as often as needed.

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Pantiliners can be used every day to absorb discharge and help avoid the surprise of an unpredictable period, or can be used as backup protection with a tampon. They protect underwear and absorb odors.

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Panty liners should be changed every 3-4 hours, or as often as needed.

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step two: pick your day to have the talk