Do you remember the time before your period started? The questions you had about it? The worries and fears you had around it?
Do you remember talking to your friends about what it was like and what happened when it did come?
I don’t either!
When you’re decades into your menstruating years, you can take for granted what you do and don’t know. You’ve learned about how to deal with it in your own way, and the initial fears and worries are long gone.
Our girls have questions and worries that we’ve long since forgotten about. It’s only since asking them in a safe and anonymous way that I’ve discovered their real questions, worries and thoughts.
During the workshop, the girls get to write down any questions that have about periods. Every workshop raises new questions that I haven’t encountered before, so every workshop I’m able to build on from the one before.
When initially talking to our girls about periods, having “the talk”, we tend to think that letting them know they bleed once a month, for a few days, and this is how a pad works is enough. They’ll sit in silence, nodding, taking in what they can. But I’ve come to know that they have SOOOOOO many other questions!
So lets dive in with these real questions from your girls!
Here are 10 things your daughter really wants to know about her period.
- What’s the average age to get your period? In our western society, the average age girls start their period is 12. However, it can start as young as 8 and as old as 16. If you do start at 8 or still don’t have it at 16, it may be reason to see a womens health professional, but there is no right and wrong. Everybody is different.
- Where do we bleed? It’s important to let them know that we have three holes here, and specifically that where we wee from and where we bleed from are not the same. There can sometimes be confusion around if we use tampons or cups and need to wee, do we need to take it out first. I don’t know about you, but I was in my twenties when I found out they were different holes! Use the correct terms. The blood comes down the vagina (which is on the inside of our body), and passes through the vulva, which is the outside of our body where we can see.
- Does it hurt? Blood has always been linked to harm or injury, so it can be a scary thing to think you’ll have blood just coming out of you by itself. We’ve come a long way since the days of “yes, periods are painful, you just have to put up with it”. Ladies, we’ve been lied to! We don’t have to put up with it! So to answer their question, it won’t hurt as the blood comes out of you, but a little bit of cramping pain around your uterus leading up to and after your period starts is common. However, it is NOT normal to experience painful periods that stop you for going to school, doing sport, or going about your normal day. Painful periods can be a sign of other health issues, of which there is now a lot of support for. Getting to learn what feels right in their own body, and what is not normal will be really helpful for their longterm health. Tracking their cycle when it first starts can help them get on their way to knowing their body better.
- Does your period change colour over time? Yes. When you first get your period don’t be surprised if it doesn’t even look like blood. While some girls do have bright red periods to start with, others find small brown patches in their knickers. During your period the colour may change from brown to red to pink to black. These can all indicate different things. This handy chart can help with what these colours may mean.
- Is period blood the same as a scratch on your body? No, period blood is a mix of blood, uterine and vaginal tissue. It is generally thicker than the blood from a scratch, and can be a different colour, as above.
- Why do you get discharge? Lets call this cervical fluid (discharge sounds so icky!). Cervical fluid is a vital part of your menstrual cycle, and once you get to know your body and how it works, knowing your cervical fluid will actually make life easier. Discharge, in the abnormal sense is a sign that something is not right. See this post for more info on cervical fluid and how it can help us. WHAT IS THAT WHITE STAIN IN MY KNICKERS?
- How do you know when you’re starting your period? We can’t be sure when exactly, but we can use clues to help us. Cervical fluid can be a big clue as it increases quite a bit in the lead up to the first period. Our moods can also be a sign, as often our moods are cycling with the seasons before we start to bleed. Here are seven signs that you might start your period soon.
- What is it called when the blood smells? I didn’t know the actual answer to this one, apart from saying that it shouldn’t! If the blood smells it may mean that there is an infection. See if it is accompanied by other symptoms, like pain, itchiness or another kind of discharge. Unfortunately it’s still not uncommon for girls to hear that period blood smells like fish. How scary would that be to hear?! Sometimes when a pad has not been changed a slight odour may occur. It’s said that this is the blood and air combining. Many products available now, like period undies or organic pads don’t seem to have this issue. This begs the question if chemicals in other products have caused this.
- Is there a better pad brand (e.g. comfortable)? This is purely personal preference. There is no right and wrong, just what works best for you. It may take a few goes to find the product that you love, but that’s okay, you’ve got a few years to practice :). It is important, however, to take into consideration the environmental impacts, as well as organic options. Do some research, ask questions and be aware that many non organic, non biodegradable pad options take over 5oo years to break down! (yep, you read that right!)
- Does your period benefit your body in any way? ABSOLUTELY! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. More than just being the bearer of news that we aren’t pregnant every month, our entire cycle (not just when we are bleeding) is a vital sign of our overall health. Our bodies hold so much wisdom and if we learn to live in sync with our whole menstrual cycle, our young women will be so powerful! Look out world!