Getting your period for the first time and figuring out everything that goes along with it can be daunting for a young woman. As her mum, dad or caregiver it’s your job to help her through this tricky time as best you can. She, you or both of you might be a bit embarrassed talking about the changes that are happening in her body right now but the more you can make it seem totally normal (which of course it is) the more comfortable she might feel with what’s going on.
You might have noticed other changes in your teens life that go hand in hand with menstruation. Is she having a tough time with moods? Is she having trouble with period pains each month? Is she more reluctant to exercise than she once was?
Some of this could be down to her period and some to fear – lots of girls drop out of teen sports around this time because of the worry about bleeding through uniforms or embarrassment at their time of the month.
What can you do to help?
> Have a very honest and open conversation about bleeding. If your teen is using pads or liners she should be changing them every three to four hours, a tampon should be changed every four to six hours. If she is bleeding though either at a much faster rate (say every 90 minutes) it’s time to visit the doctor.
> Cramping is a normal part of the menstrual experience but if your teen is in so much pain that it’s stopping her take part in her usual life it may need investigation. Bad period pain is common but not normal and there may be underlying conditions that need investigation.
> Exercise and keeping fit can be a big help both mentally and physically around the time of your period. If sports were part of her life before and she’s reluctant to take part now have a chat about why. If there’s a fear of bleeding through any clothes, talk about options. There are brilliant period pants on the market now that are absorbent and when worn with a tampon should put her mind at ease.
> When your teen has her period it might seem like the best plan is to curl up on the sofa with a huge tub of ice-cream and settle in for a TV binge. But diet can be hugely important around that time of the month. Cutting down on salty snacks and making sure you’re getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables can help with the uncomfortable bloating she might experience. Although it’s good to point out that there are definitely some days when only a tub of ice-cream will do and no one should feel guilty about that!
> Mood swings are tricky for any of us to deal with but are especially so when you’re experiencing them for the first time. Have a chat and explain all the different types of symptoms she might have. They can include but are not limited to: moodiness, feeling angry or sad, cramping, bloating or puffiness, breast tenderness, headaches, breakouts, nausea and back and leg aches. Symptoms can start around 10 days before a period arrives and usually stop within a day or two of when bleeding starts.
> A great way to stay on top of a healthy lifestyle all month long is to take a supplement like Cleanmarine For Women which contains Omega 3 and a range of vitamins, including Vitamin B6 which helps to regulate hormonal activity.