Some girls start menstruation as early as 9 or 10, others not until they are 15 or 16 with the average being 12.5 years of age.
Periods start when the body is ready and is determined by genes, hormones and being sufficiently physically developed. Weight can also play a role in when periods start, the current scientific consensus being that more weight is likely to trigger periods and less can delay it.
Strangely, there is also quite a bit of research that suggests that girls growing up in households without their biological fathers will also head into puberty a bit before their peers.
If you’re the mum, what age you were when you first got your period is a good indicator of when your daughter will start. Other indicators include having:
- Pubic hair for about a year
- Regular discharge
- Around 20% body fat as a minimum
- Other indicators of puberty – growing taller, widening hips and breast development
Factors that can delay puberty include poor nutrition, being underweight or having a prolonged or serious illness.
For many girls, their period will be heralded by a rust-coloured discharge and their first period is likely to start in the next day or two. Others don’t get such a clear warning.
We’ve all heard horror stories from generations past when girls got their first period and had no idea what was going on – in some cases, they even thought they were dying! Thankfully those days are well and truly over.
In addition to knowing about periods, it’s also a good idea to have some products on standby. Girls are curious so show them what the pads look like, how the wings wrap around the undies and how to stick them into place. It’s also important to explain how to dispose of used products and emphasis that they should never be flushed down the toilet.
A little kit or purse, with a couple of small pads and liners, is a good idea for girls to keep in their school bag – just in case! If they’re going on camp or a sleepover, a few more pads might be an idea.
However, reassure your daughter that if she is ever caught short, she should always just ask a friend or the school nurse for a pad. We’re all girls and happy to help each other out!
Why not order a sample from us here at Libra, which has a GirlTalk booklet with loads of information on everything from periods, handling a leak, eating well and keeping happy.
Which products are best to start with?
Even before periods start, some girls find discharge ‘uncomfortable’. Like most things, the amount of discharge experienced varies widely, so for some it might not be an issue, but for others, it could leave them feeling a bit damp down there.
If your daughter would feel more comfortable, Libra has a great range of liners, some so thin they’re almost unnoticeable. Perhaps try the Flexi Thin 2in1 Liners, which has two layers – simply peel off the top layer to reveal a clean fresh layer underneath.
A liner is also handy if your daughter has experienced the rust-coloured discharge that can pre-empt her first period. It will just buy her some time to get to the toilet and pop a pad in without the risk of having stained undies or worrying about a leak.
The vast majority of girls use pads when they first get their period. As women ourselves, we recall how daunting a pad was, which is why we developed LibraGirl – a smaller, more compact pad specifically designed for smaller bodies. If you haven’t used pads in a while, you might also be surprised how thin and comfortable they now are. Libra pads also have BodyFitTM, which allows the pad to mould to the female shape, providing a closer fit for even better protection and comfort.
Many girls are happy to stick with pads for a couple of years at least, but swimming and the beach is often the catalyst to want to try tampons. The biggest issue with using tampons for the first time is being nervous and literally clamping up! A lot of girls are unsure of exactly where it goes, so a quick read through the instructions should help. You might also consider a tube of water-based lubricant – just a small dollop on the end of a tampon can often assist the process.
Libra also has an applicator tampon which makes insertion easier for first-timers, as well as ensuring it gets into the right position. Just remind her that tampons need to be inserted toward your tailbone – not straight up!
If your daughter is reluctant to read about periods – and many are! – we’d suggest you have a quick read through the LibraGirl section as a quick refresher on the ins and outs of puberty.