We all know that periods are totally natural and most see them as a normal part of everyday life, however studies have shown that the subject is viewed rather differently by young women.
According a study of 1,000 British women run by ActionAid, 54% of girls and women aged between 16-24 shy away from discussing their period.
Similarly, Ovarian Cancer Trust found that 66% of 18-24 year-olds are too embarrassed to speak to their GP about their vagina. 65% of women from a similar study ran by Eve Appeal saying they even avoid saying the word entirely, and instead refer to phrases such as ‘down there’.
So how can we make steps to dispel these taboos and encourage girls not to feel embarrassed about these important bodily changes? Here are 5 tips on how to speak to your daughter about these issues and prepare her for her period.
Relax! A lot of parents can find talking about periods with their daughter uncomfortable, and it really needn’t be. The more you speak openly and in a relaxed manner, the less intimidated your daughter is likely to feel. It’s totally normal and natural after all, and it’s important that this comes across.
Avoid one big ‘chat’ Try and introduce them to the topic of periods and hormones casually through everyday life where possible, in order to avoid the daunting, sit-down ‘chat’ which can be overwhelming. This can place too much importance on something that’s totally normal and natural. If they’re asking questions at a young age, answer them as honestly and frankly as you can – this will help to reduce the stigma of talking about periods from a young age and encourage them to be more body confident.
Know your stuff It’s important you have the right information so that you can relay it to your daughter as best you can. Brush up on the little details that may have become a little hazy over time, such as the length of time you can leave a tampon in and the risks of TSS. It’s a good idea to suggest a range of different sanitary products too, so she feels she has some control in the situation and can decide what works best for her and her body.
Be positive Avoid using euphemisms and phrases to describe your period as some women so often do – avoid negative language and talk about menstruation in a positive way. Perhaps mention this signals the start of her becoming a woman, and the reason we have a cycle is so that we can have babies, which is a wonderful thing!
Support is key Starting your period can be a daunting experience for girls, and there’s no doubt your daughter will have lots of questions about the changes her body is going through. Although you are always there to offer advice, there are lots of other resources out there that she can turn to if she has a question. An example is betty.me, a content site which offers a whole range of advice for teen girls, from personal hygiene and periods, to friendships at school.
Try a subscription box
A couple of companies are now offering period subscription boxes. While Pink Parcel is perfect for women aged 18+, the bettybox could be the perfect antidote for younger girls who are new to getting a period, as it comes with sweet treats, beauty gifts and sanitary products tailored to your daughter's needs.