Category Archives: Period Facts

Periods Aren’t Just For Sentences

Periods Aren’t Just For Sentences

Has your daughter asked you yet what a period is?  And have you answered ‘a period comes at the end of a sentence?’.  Although my daughter didn’t ask about periods at a young age, she did ask what sex was.  I cleverly answered that it was how to tell if someone is a girl or a boy.  She was about 4 years old and I was just not ready to start discussing sex with her.  We all find ourselves in these awkward positions with our kids but they don’t have to be awkward.   Having a few simple explanations ready for when the questions come helps.

The complicated but complete answer for what a menstrual period is goes something like this:

When a girl’s body gets to the right stage of development, it will start to release an egg each month of one of the two ovaries.  The lining of the uterus will thicken in preparation to hold and nourish a fertilized egg.

The egg is released two weeks before bleeding starts.  Most of the time the egg is not fertilized causing it to be flushed from the body through the vagina along with the lining of the uterus.  A menstrual period is that time when the egg and uterine tissue are being flushed.

A simpler explanation for a younger child might be:

We all grow from eggs just like birds do.  A bird’s egg grows in a nest and a human egg grows in a uterus, the difference is that a uterus is inside a mommy’s body.   If the nest isn’t needed it falls apart to make room for a new nest.  The old pieces leave mommy’s body during her monthly period.

It is important to use the correct words for body parts when children are young so they become familiar with the words and are comfortable saying them.  This will help in later years when they are learning about their bodies in school.  If something hurts, children will also be better able to describe symptoms to a doctor.

The other key thing to remember when discussing these topics with our children is that we feel awkward, so will our children.  Which means they might not turn to you for other questions later in life.  Keeping the conversation channels open early in life will only benefit both of you as your children grow older and face more challenging issues in their lives.

 

How Do I Track My Period?

How Do I Track My Period

How Do I Track My PeriodAs most women know, the first question asked at each gynecology visit is ‘What was the first day of your last period?’ Doctors ask this question to determine how regular a woman’s menstrual cycle is and if the woman is pregnant, the date helps determine the approximate day of conception. Learning how to track your period is therefore a handy skill to have.

For girls just starting their period, knowing when their next period will start will help them plan for when supplies should be handy while away from home.  Tracking can also help determine if periods are becoming too irregular.

Fortunately there are many calendars and even phone apps to help women and girls track their period. Some of the iPhone apps are reviewed here. If you don’t have a smart phone sites like Kotex and MyMonthlyCycles.com offer free online calendars. And then there is the old-fashioned printed calendar to carry around in a purse or backpack.

Using one of these calendars will allow you to track not only when you first start to bleed each menstrual cycle but also when other discharge or PMS symptoms occur.  This will allow you to plan for any supplies you might need or action you might want to take to head off bothersome symptoms.

There are several types of vaginal discharge that may occur during a menstrual cycle.  Learning how to identify these discharges and understanding what is normal will help you if abnormal discharge happens.  As always, see your doctor if you have any concerns about your menstrual cycle.

Other symptoms that can be tracked include abdominal bloating or water retention, breast tenderness or headaches.  Noting the severity of these symptoms on a tracking calendar can help determine from cycle to cycle if PMS symptoms are becoming better or worse.

We all get caught up in our daily lives and remembering what happens from month to month can be difficult.  Using a period tracking calendar will help you better manage your health and provide useful information when you see your doctor about any concerns.

Feminine Hygiene Pads – The Differences

Feminine Hygiene Pads – The Differences

Feminine Hygiene Pads - The DifferencesIn this day and age in the United States we seem to have a product to fit every choice.  Whether it be food, shoes, homes, or even yes, feminine hygiene pads, there is something unique that fits your life style.  It can be confusing to sort through all the options but once you find the perfect fit you will probably be a customer for life.

Since I started this business 6 years ago, I’ve become much more aware of the choices in feminine hygiene pads.  There is the usual variety in stores that tend toward the disposable.  And then there are the natural products found in specialty stores or on the internet.  There are also new options like the DivaCup where you can do away with the pads altogether.

With all the options available I thought I would make a list for you and your daughter to explore to discuss which type of pads will be best for her and maybe even for you.

Washable Cloth Menstrual Pads

Companies like Lunapads and GladRags lead this market.  Offering reusable all-cotton pads with covers that attach to your underwear (think wings like on disposable pads) these companies attract the eco-conscious consumer.  As a mother who used cloth diapers on her babies, I can see the appeal in these products.  Not only are you cutting down on waste, but there is a real savings in not buying disposable products every month.  The companies also offer bright, cute covers for the pads to appeal to any age.

Menstrual Cup

The DivaCup was first on the scene in this segment of the market.  Offering two sizes, based on age and previous childbirth experience, the cup works just like it sounds.  Inserted vaginally, the silicone cup holds the menstrual blood inside your body until you empty it.  From my own experience, this option is excellent for traveling.  No need to carry supplies and it fits neatly into a cloth bag that can go into any travel purse.  Menstrual cups are also an excellent option for girls involved in sports as an alternative to tampons.  Girls just starting their periods may fill a little unsure about using the cups, but as they get used to their menstrual flow it can be introduced as an option.  Different brands of menstrual cups can now be found in most major drugstores.

The Disposable Stuff

This is where the choices become beyond overwhelming as anyone who has ever walked down the feminine care aisle at a drugstore can attest.  Finding the right fit can be a challenge.  I’m frequently asked by mothers for recommendations on pads that will fit for small tween girls.  So far I have not found a good option.  Instead I tend to recommend investigating the U by Kotex line of products. Specifically targeted to the younger set, the packaging is cute and cheerful and the website offers advice in finding the perfect match for size and flow.

If you know of any other options in feminine care products who would love to here from you in the comments!

 

 

 

 

My Daughter Hasn’t Started Her Period Yet!

My Daughter Hasn’t Started Her Period Yet!

My Daughter Hasn't Started Her Period Yet!How many times have you heard your kids complain because they were the last one chosen for a team? Everyone wants to be chosen first and no one wants to be last. In fact, most kids just want to keep up with their peers and would rather not be singled out for being the last to do anything. If your daughter is reaching puberty milestones slower than her friends she may get the feeling that she’s being left behind in the great race to grow up.

Here are some ways you can help your daughter if she is a late bloomer:

1. Sit down with your daughter and explain the developmental bench marks for puberty (see How to Tell Your Daughter’s Period Might Be Coming). The average upper age for starting menstruation is 16. Delays may be caused by low body weight or heavy participation in sports. If you are at all concerned then talk to your doctor.

2. If your daughter is developing normally but appears to be a “late bloomer” then your job will be to reassure her that her body is unique and is just developing at its own pace. Read through some magazines and point out to her the wide variety of body types there are in the world. Remind her that everyone eventually grows into their adult body, it will happen to her too.

3. In a cheerful voice remind her that this is a great time to look at the bright side of not having a period: no pads, no cramps and no worries at the pool. Also point out that some girls who started menstruating early may be feeling uncomfortable about that. There’s really no hard and fast age of when it’s supposed to happen.

Some girls may equate getting their periods with being more mature. Let your daughter know that emotional maturity and physical maturity are two different things. Encourage her in all the other ways she shows maturity. Keep a positive attitude and look for ways to celebrate her uniqueness. She’ll know that she’s moving along fine and really not coming in last at all.

What is a Period?

What is a Period?

What is a Period?In this case, the answer is not ‘it comes at the end of the sentence’.  Although moms and dads might be uncomfortable answering this question, plunge right in.  Studies show that girls want to hear this information from their parents, even though it might not always appear that they are listening.

Your daughter may have already gathered some information from friends, TV or the internet.  This information may not be correct.  Some comments we have heard from girls include:

  • If I stay skinny, I won’t get my period.
  • People can tell when I’m on my period because it smells.
  • The sanitary pads will show through my clothes.
  • If I use a tampon, I’m no longer a virgin.

How to help your daughter overcome these misperceptions?  Ask her what she has heard and start sifting through the information.   To make it more personable, share your own memories and experiences from this time in your life.

  • Did you have any embarrassing moments?
  • Where were you when you started your first period?
  • When did you buy your first bra?

Sharing your stories will help your daughter realize that she is not alone in this experience.  Asking other female members of your family to share their stories will provide a sense of family togetherness and will give your daughter an idea of “how times have changed”.

This is an awkward time for girls.  She may be experiencing a growth spurt and outgrowing all her clothes, or having to deal with pimples for the very first time.  Offer her positive reinforcement and assurance that this is a normal step in her growing up years and that she is always beautiful to you.
For her to have one less worry, make sure she is prepared with the supplies she needs for her period:

  • Have her keep an “emergency kit” in her purse, gym bag or locker. Fill the kit with feminine hygiene products, an extra pair of underwear and a wash rag or purchase The Dot Girl First Period Kit.
  • If she is a sports girl, suggest wearing spandex shorts or underwear underneath her sport shorts which will keep pads in place and provide a feeling of comfortable control.
  • If your daughter is a swimmer you may want to introduce her to tampons.  Have her practice at home until you find the brand and fit that she’s comfortable with.
  • Encourage your daughter to track her monthly cycle with a calendar. It may take some time before its regular but soon enough she’ll be able to anticipate when her flow will start.

Having conversations with your daughter about periods and what to expect will encourage her to take care of her own health and have control over her monthly experience.

Period Fact #10 – What feminine pads should my daughter use?

What feminine pads should my daughter use?

Period Fact #10 - What type of feminie pads should she use?It’s Friday and our period talk for today is ‘what feminine pads should my daughter use?’ As moms know, there are many different types of feminine pads. They come in different lengths and thicknesses to match various amounts of blood flow.

Thinner “mini” pads are for lighter flow and thicker “maxi” pads are for heavy flow or overnight. Most feminine pads now come individually wrapped in plastic so they are easier to carry and keep clean. We recommend your daughter become familiar with the different feminine pads before she starts her period.

Your daughter may also ask about tampons especially if she is active in sports or other physical activities like dancing. If your daughter decides to use tampons remind her to change them frequently and to use the size that matches her flow. Girls just starting their periods will have a lighter flow and tampons are meant to absorb liquid. If her flow is light, it may be uncomfortable pulling out the used tampon. This may turn your daughter off from tampons. So talk to her about the appropriate times to use tampons. And remember that every box of tampons will also come with information on avoiding Toxic Shock Syndrome – important information for your daughter to know.

This is also a good time to teach your daughter about disposing of used feminine pads and tampons. They should never be flushed down the toilet. There are special disposal bags available such as ones included in The Dot Girl First Period Kit. The used pad or tampon should be placed in the disposal bag and placed in the garbage can.

If your daughter does not have disposal bags handy, she should fold up the pad as best she can and wrap it several times in toilet paper before throwing it in the trash. A tampon can also be wrapped in toilet paper before putting it in the trash.

Period Fact #9 – Period Tracking on a Calendar

Period Fact #9 – Period Tracking on a Calendar

Period Fact #9 - Period Tracking on a CalendarThis week for our Friday series on periods we are going to talk about tracking periods on a calendar.  As we all know, the first question asked at annual ob/gyn exams is ‘when was the first day of your last period’?  Your daughter will also want to track her period for other reasons.  Knowing her cycle will help her plan for camp or other activities so can pack the supplies she needs.

Tracking her periods also helps your daughter know what is normal for her body.  That way she will notice if anything seems not normal.  Sometimes an abnormal or irregular menstrual cycle can be a sign of some other problem in her body.  Always, if you or your daughter have questions about her health, you should talk to a doctor.

To help your daughter track her period find a special calendar to use or download a free Dot Girl period calendar. Teach your daughter to mark the day she first starts bleeding.  After a few months of doing this she will start to see how many days there are in between periods each month.  Remember that it might take up to a year or two for your daughter to become regular once she first starts menstruating.  And regular means something different for everyone.  It may not be the same each month and she may skip a month altogether which is normal too.

Your daughter can also mark the days she has mucous or cramps.  Over time this information will help her to better understand her body.  She can also plan to adjust her diet or activities to help deal with cramps if she has them – like more exercise, more cups of tea, or just knowing where the heating pad is stored.

We would recommend your daughter always has supplies on hand in the first couple of years after she starts her period.  A pad can be slipped into her backpack, purse or gym bag.  Using the pink bag with The Dot Girl First Period Kit is also a discreet way to store and carry supplies.  Once she is familiar with her own cycle, she’ll be able to better plan when to have supplies with her.

 

 

 

 

Period Fact #8 – What is that in her underwear?

Period Fact #8 – What is that in her underwear?

Period Fact #8 - What is that in her underwear?The 8th post in our series about periods explains one of the early signs that your daughter might be experiencing closer to starting her  period.  She may notice a clear or milky-white fluid as a wet spot in her underwear. This is formally called vaginal discharge.  The mucus is a normal part of the menstrual cycle and may appear up to six months before her first period.  After that she may notice it before each period starts.

You can remind your daughter that this is her body’s natural way of cleansing itself and that it’s perfectly normal. If the discharge is dark in color or has a strong odor talk to your doctor as this can be a sign of infection.

Encourage your daughter to carry pantiliners with her.  Keep a box stashed in the bathroom at home so she can stock up at any time.  Pantiliners come in many different shapes and sizes, there are even ones to fit into thong underwear!  Many are also folded in their own disposable wrapper.  These individually wrapped liners are small enough to slip into even the smallest purse or back pack pocket.

Now might also be a good time to go with your daughter on a field trip to the local drug store.  Take a walk down the feminine care aisle and talk about all the choices.  Looking at the different size pads and when to use them – light days, heavy days, night time – will help your daughter gain confidence in managing her period.  Several companies, like Kotex, are also reaching out to the tween market with colorful packaging which helps tweens be more comfortable about their periods.

There are also many different types of tampons and your daughter may have many questions about when and how to use a tampon.  You may not want to have this conversation in the drug store aisle, however, it it good information for your daughter to have before she starts her period.

 

 

 

Period Fact #7 – What to do about cramps?

Period Fact #7 – What to do about cramps?

Period Fact #7 - What to do about cramps? Our Friday period fact series continues with information about cramps. Not every girl will suffer from cramps, but for those that do, it can be a bothersome nuisance and interfere with everyday activities.

Cramps are another period symptom. During menstruation the uterus contracts or tightens to slough off the endometrium, the mucous membrane that lines the uterus. For some girls this can feel uncomfortable, even painful.

As much as possible, your daughter should stick to her regular activities and healthy habits during her period which can help her avoid cramps.

Most advice for general well being such as eating sensibly, exercising and getting the right amount of sleep also applies during menstruation. Now is the time to encourage your daughter to establish a special routine during her period that can relieve discomfort and improve her overall attitude about menstruation.

Stretching is a great way to keep muscles limber and relaxed. Sit on the floor with a straight back then bend your knees so that the souls of your feet touch, now gently pull your feet inward. Or, while standing with legs shoulder width apart, gently lunge from side to side. Both of these stretches will help to limber up the pelvic region. Add some deep breathing to increase the amount of oxygen reaching the muscles.

Start a monthly ritual of sitting down for a shared pot of tea. Earl Grey tea and Chamomile are known for their relaxing and mood lifting properties. Offer an empathetic ear if your daughter needs to gripe about her period.

Re-heatable rice bags, hot water bottles and heating pads can work wonders to ease cramps. Apply a few drops of essential oil of lavender to the rice bag for added pain relieving benefits.

If your daughter’s cramps are so bad that she has to miss school or regular activities, it would be time to take her to a doctor.  He/she can help determine what may be causing the cramps and prescribe remedies.

Menstrual Periods – Five Common Myths to Overcome

Menstrual Periods – Five Common Myths to Overcome

Menstrual Periods - Five Common Myths to OvercomeGirls tend to have some preconceived notions about periods.  Some they hear from friends and some they hear from the media.  When you talk to your daughter about starting her first menstrual period, ask her what she’s heard.  Together you can sort through fact and fiction.

Here are five common myths you’re daughter might have heard and how you can help her learn the truth.  Knowing these facts will help your daughter be comfortable with starting her period.

1.      If I stay skinny, I won’t get my period.  Being underweight can delay the start of menstruation and can have an impact once periods start.  Being underweight is not a healthy state to be in, regardless of how models are portrayed in the media.  Support your daughter in having a healthy diet and a healthy weight.  Positive body image will last a lifetime.

2.      People can tell when I’m on my period because it smells. Proper hygiene methods are key here.  Regularly changing pads will help alleviate odors.  By itself, menstrual blood does not cause an odor.

3.      The sanitary pads will show through my clothes. Help your daughter overcome this fear by buying different size pads and trying them out before she starts her first period.  She can try different clothes while standing in front of a mirror to reassure herself that feminine hygiene pads will not show through clothes.

4.      If I use a tampon, I’m no longer a virgin.  The definition of a virgin is a woman who has not had sex.  Tampons do not play a part in virginity.

5.      Girls can’t get pregnant if they have sex during their period.  There is a remote possibility of getting pregnant during a period.  Your daughter should know that birth control should be used every time she has sex, even during her period. Read more at KidsHealth.org.