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What Does a Girl Want to Know About Her First Period?

As puberty draws near, a girl is likely to be excited at the prospect of leaving childhood behind and “becoming a woman,” but she’ll probably also have more specific thoughts, worries, and fears about menstruation and the way her body is beginning to change. Here are some of the types of questions may she be asking herself:

  • Will I get my first period at school? That’s a big fear for a lot of girls, says Madaras. “Strategize with your daughter about what she can do -- carrying something in her purse, going to the school nurse or, even as an emergency measure, putting toilet paper in her underpants,” she says. “But she’s probably most worried that she’s just going to gush blood, so you should reassure her that that doesn’t happen.”
  • I don’t have my period yet, but there’s this white stuff in my underpants. What is that? This is another big worry for many girls, who may imagine they have a disease or that they’ve injured themselves by masturbating. “Give them the physiological facts -- that vaginal discharge is just a way of keeping the vagina clean, and it’s perfectly normal,” Madaras says.
  • How do I use tampons? Sanitary pads are pretty self-explanatory, but tampons can be intimidating. You may want to suggest that your daughter wait until she’s a little more comfortable with her period before using tampons. Today’s pads are much more sports-friendly and easier to hide than the bulky ones of yesteryear. Some tips for when she starts trying tampons: Use a smaller size first to judge what is most comfortable for her body. Change tampons every four to eight hours. Be sure she washes her hands before and after insertion.
  • Am I normal? Whether a girl gets her first period early or late, or right at the “average” age, she will probably worry that there’s something wrong with her. “Emotional swings are part of adolescence, and we all figure that everybody else is developing normally and we’re not,” says Zager. “Reassure your daughter that she will eventually develop -- or that the other girls will catch up with her, if she’s developing early.”

Girl to Woman: Your Changing Body

Teen girls: See how your body changes during puberty.
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