Remind your daughter that it might take some practice to get used to inserting tampons. Stock the bathroom with various types of sanitary products ahead of time. Encourage your daughter to experiment until she finds the product that works best for her. What if I’m at school? Encourage your daughter to carry a few pads or tampons in her backpack or purse or keep a supply in her locker just in case. Many school bathrooms have coin-operated dispensers for these products. The school nurse also might have supplies. Will everyone know that I have my period? Assure your daughter that pads and tampons aren’t visible through clothing. No one needs to know that she has her period. What if blood leaks onto my pants? Offer your daughter practical suggestions for covering up stains until she’s able to change clothes, such as tying a sweatshirt around her waist. You might also encourage your daughter to wear dark clothing when she has her period.
Earlier menstruation doesn’t mean earlier sex
In this study, girls were followed from childhood to age 20, and they and their parents answered periodic questionnaires; some girls kept diaries to record their periods. Still, the findings, reported online in Paediatrics, do not prove there’s no link between earlier puberty and earlier sexual activity, one expert says. “The age of menarche and the age of onset of puberty are not the same thing,” said Dr Renee Boynton-Jarrett, an assistant professor of paediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine who studies pubertal development. “Menarche” refers to a girl’s first menstrual period, and that actually happens late in puberty, Boynton-Jarrett explained. For girls, the first sign of puberty is the beginning of breast development. “In the US, the age of onset of breast development is declining,” Boynton-Jarrett noted. “And it would be interesting to see if the age of pubertal onset is associated with first sexual activity.” A US study found that black girls typically start developing breasts at about age 8, while other girls start at around age 9. The researchers found that among white girls, breast development is happening sooner now than in the 1990s and a rising rate of obesity seemed to largely explain the shift. It’s important to understand whether that earlier development is related to earlier sexual activity, Boynton-Jarrett said. If it is, she noted, it might be wise to start sex education in schools a bit sooner. Race and ethnicity Another limit of the current study is that it looked at a group of mostly white girls from Western Australia, and it’s not clear if the findings would extend to more diverse groups, said Boynton-Jarrett. Marino agreed. “It’s possible that the US, which has a different racial, ethnic and cultural composition to Australia, could have different findings,” she said. Race and ethnicity influence the timing of puberty, Marino noted, and a whole host of factors including family and social influences would affect girls’ sexual activity. But that’s also good news for parents.