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Talking early to a daughter about periods is always a good idea, but what are the signs that your daughter is about to start her periods?
Sonam Kapoor had revealed her first menstrual experience to The Times of India while campaigning for her movie Padman. She expressed that she was relieved to get her periods finally at 15 since most of her friends had already got theirs and she thought something was wrong with her.
Menstruation is another one of those hushed topics which needs to be really discussed from a knowledge and medical point of view, especially with young girls who are about to begin with their first period. It is the responsibility of their families to vividly discuss this with them when they realise the signs that their daughter is about to start her period. Even primary schools should have a mandatory class on this process for all students.
Due to the lack of awareness, most of us do not have very pleasant memories of the day when our first period came. Of course it comes uninvited as no girl wants to grow up if it means dealing with literally a bloody episode every month henceforth. But keeping the young ladies informed can definitely enhance the experience for them.
There are various rituals linked to the start of menstruation of a girl in different cultures across our country. Some good and some really weird ones. There are also different superstitions still being followed as part of a cultural norm in India. While in some regions it is ‘celebrated’ to mark the ‘marriageable age’ of the girl child.
The first menstrual period or Menarche is a culmination of various physiological processes of puberty in a girl’s life. It usually occurs between the ages 10 to 15 years, but it might also happen at a younger or older age.
If the first period does not occur by 16 years of age, it is advisable to visit a doctor.
On the day I got my first menses, I had been hit by a ball while playing pitto, a childhood game, with my friends, and thought that it was probably due to an injury that I was bleeding. Being quite the tomboy as a child, I loved playing rough games, and my mother was always concerned for me getting hurt. So, I thought I was about to get a good thrashing that day. Prepared for the scolding when I confronted my mother, I was dumbfound to see her smiling instead, realising that her daughter had got her first period. And later came the explanations from her.
However it happens, every girl who menstruates vividly remembers her experience of getting her first period, be it with or without first hand knowledge of the process.
The first menstrual cycle often comes unannounced for most of the people, but for a parent who is keenly aware of the signs, you will see that menstruation usually occurs around 2 years after a girl shows initial signs of puberty. The signs that your daughter is about to start her first period include:
Many girls also experience symptoms like acne, back pain, diarrhoea, fatigue or specific food cravings. These are called PMS (premenstrual syndrome) that are experienced during the days just before the start of menstruation.
Once you see the signs that your daughter is about to start her first period, it is a good practice to talk to her. Tell her the mandatory things she needs to know and expect on getting the first period.
You can start preparing to stock up some supplies you would need in the situation. These include:
Sanitary Pads – It is appropriate to use sanitary napkins instead of tampons or menstrual cups for the first menstrual experience. Using extra long sanitary napkins with wings will help her feel comfortable and tension free during her first menses.
Period underwear – These are specially designed underwear which have high levels of absorbency. It is helpful specially if your daughter is having a heavy flow. Otherwise as well this underwear will be helpful to avoid stains in case of spills.
Panty liners – They can be considered a thinner version of sanitary napkins. Panty liners will be helpful on the days when you are expecting your period to begin or at the end of your cycle for the unpredictable spotting.
You can also prepare a handy sanitary hygiene kit for both your daughter and yourself (just in case). Make your daughter carry this kit everywhere she goes with or without you. Same applies to you, carry the kit in your handbag at all times when you go out with your daughter.
The sanitary kit can be made in a cosmetic bag, or a handy pouch she can easily carry. It should essentially comprise the following:
The period usually lasts for 2 to 7 days in a normal scenario. The flow might be scanty for the first time. Colour of period blood will be brownish during the beginning and the end, and red during the heavy flow days.
A regular menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but it can vary from 21 to 35 days as well. Menstrual cycles can be slightly irregular initially but it will get more steady as the person grows older.
Following symptoms are common during a period:
You should also guide your daughter on how to keep track of her menstrual cycles and period dates. This is absolutely mandatory, to keep her prepared every month and avoid unnecessary awkwardness.
Once you comprehend the signs that your daughter is about to start her periods, it is a green flag for you to devise this work plan. The most important objective is to make your daughter understand that menstrual period is a very normal occurrence in her life, a gift of nature given to women in many ways, including a better immunity to many diseases. It should be celebrated, not obscured.
Living in our society she will come across various superstitions and superfluous customs. But she has to stand tall and dodge them with a brave face rather than giving in under the pressure of nonacceptance.
Image source: YouTube
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