Spotting Before First Period
Spotting before first period: What to expect during your daughter's first period.
Menstruation occurs as a result of puberty, with a average age of onset being around 12-13 years old for many girls; according to medically reviewed articles, in recent years, it seems that the age at onset of the menstrual cycle seems to be getting gradually younger.
If you're wondering when to expect your daughters first period, this can vary massively, some girls start menstruating as young as 9 years old, and others as late as age 15 or 16. As a general rule, periods often commence around 2 years after the beginning of breast development. Some of the first signs and symptoms of puberty include growth of pubic hair, mood swings, acne, increased perspiration and changes to body shape, including widening hips and thighs.
How can I prepare my daughter for her first period?
The best way to prepare your daughter is to assure her that the menstrual cycle is a completely normal part of growing up and something that most women go through. The sight of period blood can be startling for a girl having her first periods, however knowing what to expect should help set her mind at ease.
It's a good idea to familiarise her with period products such as pads or tampons, you can also introduce reusable options such as menstrual cups, period underwear and cloth sanitary pads. Talk through the pros and cons of each type, and equip her with a period kit that she can have on hand for if menstruation occurs when she is away from home; it would be useful to include a pad or tampon with the lowest absorbency, along with a back up should she experience heavier blood flow. A clean pair of underwear would also be handy in case of blood leaks. So many girls find themselves resorting to toilet paper when they have their first period, it is much better to be prepared with a pad to hand!
It might be a good idea to chat about how to relieve other symptoms, such as a heating pad to combat cramps and pain relief for headaches.
You could also discuss a trusted adult she can speak to if you are not around, perhaps the school nurse, who will have disposable pads available.
First period: Early signs and what to expect
The first period, known as Menarche, is an important milestone, typically occurring as your daughter reaches her teenage years. Most girls do get some warning signs before their period begins.
The symptoms before the first period match typical PMS (pre menstrual syndrome) symptoms, such as bloating, acne, breast pain, stress and irritability and cramps.
If your daughter experiences severe pain or the bleeding lasts more than seven days, check in with your doctor for advice, as this could be a sign of underlying health conditions. In severe cases, treatments such as the birth control pill can help relieve period symptoms.
How long does your first period last?
Unpredictable, irregular periods are common for the first few years, and how long periods last can vary massively from person to person.
You can expect the first period to last around two to seven days, and very often the first few periods are of light flow, with lots of spotting. A typical cycle length would be 28-30 days, but, again, this can vary wildly from person to person, with some girls having no real regular schedule for the first several months. Eventually, things should settle to the stage where you have an average menstru
al cycle, where a period lasts around 3-5 days and occurs every 28-30 days.
Should a period last more than around 7 days regularly, speak to your doctor or nurse.
What's your first period like?
The first period commences at an average age or around 13, and can vary massively from one girl to the next. For many, the first period can be a few brownish spots in her underwear or on toilet paper, with menstrual flow usually remaining light the first time. Usually, the next period will have a heavier flow.
Nevertheless, period blood can give quite a shock to first timers, so it's a good idea to let your daughter know how much blood she can expect to lose (around 3-5 tablespoons per cycle when things have settled down!) and reassure her that period blood might appear pink, red or brown. A missed period or two in the months that follow is also entirely normal, as is irregular spotting.
What should I do when my daughter has her first period?
First and foremost, remind her that her menstrual period is a completely normal part of life and nothing to be ashamed of! Her body is growing and maturing to carry her in to adulthood, and this is something to celebrate.
To begin with, you can offer her some regular sanitary pads and encourage her to change every one to two hours initially, to prevent leaks as she adjusts to her first few menstrual cycles and how to use menstrual products. She will soon get to know what a normal menstrual flow is for her and how much absorbent material she will need to absorb menstrual blood. Whether you use cloth or disposable pads, many women prefer to start with pads as they can seem less intimidating than a menstrual cup or tampons. If you do choose to introduce tampons, be sure to discuss toxic shock syndrome; this is incredibly rare, but it's important that your daughter is familiar with the risks and how to prevent TSS.
Many parents choose this time to discuss sex and pregnancy, if they haven't already. This might seem early, but in explaining what the menstrual cycle is, it's important for your daughter to be aware that the uterine lining will build and shed each month, causing a woman's period- unless she falls pregnant. Planned parenthood and family planning clinics can often provide age appropriate leaflets.
Pads or tampons: which are better?
This is a decision that should ultimately be up to your daughter! Furthermore, gone are the days when its a choice between pad or tampon; there are so many options out there to choose from, so girls and women can manage menstrual fluid however they wish.
Disposable pads are often handy for the first few cycles as your daughter gets to know her body and how much blood she loses during a period, and you can even buy organic cotton pads to ensure ultimate comfort. Cloth pads and period pants are another option, these are suitable for use even for first periods and can absorb just as much blood as disposable pads.
Tampons and menstrual cups can be trickier to get a hang of, so we would recommend letting your daughter get used to her periods first, perhaps using a pad for the first few periods.