What are the Real Questions About Puberty, Periods and Products Teens Have

No doubt that many moms & dads, along with their daughters, have or had questions about puberty, periods and the menstrual protection products that would be best for them to use.   One thing that I have learned over the years is that the questions that teens have can be different from the concerns or issues that their parents think they have.  Sometimes when parents talk to their daughters and think they have addressed their questions, they haven't.  Sorry about that reality, since many of us do our best to impart info to our kids to help make their lives easier.  However, I can help demystify some of this by sharing the top questions that teens have about their periods, puberty and products.  Some of you may not be surprised when you see what they are and I applaud you.  However, looking back on my talks with my daughter during puberty, I would have been. 

The questions I am sharing are the most-frequently asked ones received by the beinggirl.com women's health experts from teens.  You may be wondering why girls would go online to ask these questions .  Most do this because they haven't gotten the answers to their questions or are not satisfied with the answers they have been given. Some girls are embarrassed to ask someone they know, they don't know how to begin the discussion or want to just know that they aren't alone with their experience. 

This is going to be a really long blog posting, but I didn't want to just post the question without providing the responses that we would give to your daughters.  The answers below are not all-encompassing and certainly not personalized, but an overview of the information we provide in a typical response.  Of course, you can go to beinggirl.com to find the answers too, along with more detail.   For some of you, your daughters may have already been to the site.  Feel free to ask me any questions you may have after reading this, as I am happy to answer any and all!!  Happy reading:

When will I get my period? Since you first heard the word "period," you’ve probably been wondering what it is and when you’d get your first period. Although most girls get their first period between 11–14 years old, you could start your period anywhere from 8–17 years old.

 You could narrow that down by taking clues from your body. During puberty, when your body becomes sexually mature, you’ll have some of these changes that show your period’s on its way. (By the way, these changes may happen in a different order than listed here.)

 Developing Breasts. First, you’ll get breast "buds." (Your breasts then can take up to 3–4 years to fully develop.) Generally you will get your period 2–3 years after your breasts start developing.

Growing Pubic Hair. Right after your breasts start to form, you’ll start developing pubic hair. It will be soft and thin at first, then gradually become coarser. Your period usually arrives around 1 –2 years after the hair development.

Discharge. This is the big sign. You’ll start to experience vaginal discharge that will be either white or yellowish. If you like, you may want to start using Always Pantiliners to protect your underwear. Your period should start around 6–12 (but up to 18) months after the start of discharge. 

How do I deal with cramps? Exercise and heat can help.  Also, pain killers with ibuprofen seem to work the best on menstrual cramps. Keep a menstrual calendar and try to predict when your period will come. This is a difficult task for the first year or so since your periods aren't regular. Then start taking the pain killer the night before you get your period. If exercise, heat or ibuprofen don't help and your cramps stop you from participating in your life, ask your mom or dad to take you to see a gynecologist. S/he will be able to prescribe medication or recommend other options that may be more effective.

 What is PMS? Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - "Premenstrual" means before your period; syndrome is another word for a condition or group of symptoms. PMS is a condition some women get in the week before their periods. If you suffer from cramps, backaches, bloating, mood swings or mild depression before your period, you may have PMS.  (note that there have been books written about PMS and much more detailed information can be found on beinggirl.com or in a patient brochure from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that includes a section on PMS http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp049.cfm).

 Am I still a virgin if I use a tampon? Yes, you can definitely use a tampon and still be a virgin. But first let me clear something up: a virgin is someone who has not had sexual intercourse. So being a virgin is not related to tampon use. However since you are a virgin, your hymen (the thin membrane that partially covers and protects the opening to your vagina) may still be intact. Or, it may have been torn or stretched when you were a kid by bike riding, sliding down the banister, gymnastics, etc. The tampon just enters the vagina through the same opening the menstrual blood leaves the vagina, so it doesn’t affect the hymen. If it is still intact, you may break or stretch it to allow the tampon in. This should not be painful or traumatic, and it doesn’t have any effect on your virginity.

 My mom says I am not ready for tampons but I am active in sports. What can I use? With this question, we would refer the asker to the Always website and say: Pads are a great option when you are not ready for tampons. That's why Always offers a wide range of products. But with so many choices, it can be tough to figure out what's right for you.  Our product selector makes it a breeze to find the Always products that you're looking for. With just a few quick clicks, we'll find out what you're all about and then recommend your perfect Always pad.

 Can I go swimming during my period? It’s safe to hit the water as long as you wear a tampon while you’re swimming. Tampons collect the menstrual fluid before it leaves your body.

 How do I tell my mom I got my period? It’s totally normal to be nervous about having the talk with your mom about your first period. But remember, not so long ago, your mom was nervous about having that same talk! Really, it's not so bad once you get started.

Maybe the idea of a big sit-down with your mom seems intimidating. So, try opening the conversation casually by saying something like, "Hey Mom, when you were younger, were you nervous about getting your period?" This opens the door to discussion and gives your mom the chance to open up, too.

 If it's hard for you to start a face-to-face discussion, leave your mom a note where only she'd find it. You could say something like, "Mom, I need some info about getting my first period. Can we talk tonight?" That way, she'll initiate a conversation with you and you won't have to worry about bringing it up.

 You could take a straight-up approach and just tell her your feelings. Start by saying something like, "This is an embarrassing topic for me, but I need to talk to you about my period." That way, you and your mom can get to the point right away, and your mom can do her best to make the convo as un-icky as possible.

 I have had my period for several years but still get discharge. Why?Normal discharge is clear, smooth, or creamy and has a very slight smell that can be described as sweet or soapy. Sometimes if it gets in your underwear and gets exposed to air it may turn a little crusty, but this is normal too. The only thing you should look out for is discharge that is itchy, irritating, discolored, or smelly, because this might be a sign of infection and a reason to see your doctor. 

When Female Discharge Happens:
You’ll probably produce more discharge in the middle of your menstrual cycle a couple weeks after your period. This is when you’re ovulating (your ovary is releasing an egg).

 I got my period twice in one month. Why? Depending on a person’s cycle, it is possible to have two periods in a month. You count from the first day of your current period to the first day of your next period to determine how many days your cycle is. If you’ve already become regular, then each cycle is just about the same number of days—anything from 21 to 35 days is average. So if you were to get your period on April 1, it is possible to have it again on April 22. If your period comes closer than three weeks apart, check it out with your doctor.



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