“Will the cramps ever end? Will the bleeding ever stop? Should I use a pad or can I use a tampon?” These are just some of the questions your daughter might be asking you when she starts her period for the first time.
As for the last question, if your daughter is opting to use tampons and you’re wondering how to teach your daughter how to use a tampon, we’re here to help.
When it comes to periods, Dr. Lisa Klein, a pediatrician at Child Health Associates P.C. – with locations in Novi and Troy – and co-founder of Turning Teen, says it takes more than one talk – and should happen early.
“I recommend talking to your daughter about puberty around 8,” Klein says.
Klein adds that even if your daughter doesn’t start her menstrual cycle that early, she may have friends that do, and it’s important she understands what’s going to happen to her body.
What girls should know about tampon use
It’s not an easy task learning how to use a tampon, and some girls may never want to use one, but if your daughter is interested in this option, Klein offers some tips and information to make things easier.
Age might be a concern for moms, but your 11-year-old, for example, can still use a tampon.
“There is no certain age that girls can use (tampons) – they can use them at any age,” says Klein.
However, for patients that choose to use tampons, Klein suggests these three rules:
- They have to know what a vagina is and be comfortable with that word and having one.
- They must be comfortable enough to touch themselves in order to insert a tampon.
- They have to know how long to leave a tampon in.
Tampons should be changed every 4-6 hours, and girls should have a reminder – if it’s a mother reminding them or an alarm on their phone. They should not sleep with a tampon in.
It is also important to know when not to use a tampon.
“If they don’t have enough flow, the tampon could be uncomfortable to take out,” Klein says. “They should wait until their cycles have enough menstrual flow for a tampon to go in and out easily.
Getting started with tampons
Most boxes of tampons come with instructions, and it is important to sit down and read them with your daughter. She may be embarrassed, but it will make it easier for her to ask questions.
“The first step is to get out a box of tampons. Look at them, touch them, practice with one,” Klein says.
Klein also says that girls should know their anatomy, and know that there are certain muscles they can relax to help the process go easier. And, of course, they must know where the tampon goes. Mom should also tell her daughter to aim towards her back when inserting a tampon, not straight up.
“I’d suggest that the first time a girl tries to do this, she have a handheld mirror to look at herself and make sure she’s doing it right,” Klein says.
She also says that it should be up to the girl whether she wants her mom in the bathroom with her during this time, as it might make her more nervous and tense.
“They’re discovering their independence,” Klein adds.
There are many resources available to moms and daughters to look at together online. Tampon companies such as Tampax and Kotex have instructions or videos helping girls learn how to insert a tampon for the first time.
Notes for dads
For fathers, this topic may be uncomfortable or unfamiliar. The best option in this situation would be to utilize their resources, like books and the Internet, Klein suggests.
The first resource would be a female pediatrician if your daughter has one, because she is willing to discuss the topic with her patients.
“Ask the help of an aunt, a grandma, maybe a close neighbor,” Klein says. “Just a close adult if she’s not comfortable talking about it with her dad.”
Getting a female adult that she’s close with gives her someone with first hand experience – and someone she can go to with girl problems and questions she may have.
“There are so many great books out there with pictures and stuff,” Klein adds. “Utilize those resources to better educate yourself and your daughter.”
This post was originally published in 2017 and is updated regularly.