Parenting Through Periods

By Lindsey Johnson

Many of us can remember the moment we got it. Maybe we were at cheerleading practice, getting ready for school or even worse, in the middle of an exam. No, I am not talking about the flu, but one of many changes we women go through during a lifetime, our periods. And now, it’s your turn as Mom (with Dad along for the ride) to weather the hormonal storm of changes your daughter will be going through as they start their period. So, hold on parents … it may be a bumpy and wild ride.

According to Nemours Children’s Health, most girls will start their period around 12 years old, though it can range between 10-15 years. Typically, there is about a two-year warning that her period is going to begin after she starts to develop breasts and 6-12 months after she has begun having vaginal discharge. While these changes can be unsettling for some girls, talking them through what to expect can help alleviate anxiety.

The fear of starting their period unexpectedly when they are away from the comfort of home is a normal feeling. Not only are their bodies changing, but they must be prepared for something that they really can’t prepare for, physically and mentally. However, sending them to school and other activities with a solid preparation pouch can help reassure them they will be prepared if they are out and about when they experience their first menstrual cycle. Also let them know that their school offices or nurse’s stations may also have supplies in case of an emergency.


While this topic makes some girls uneasy, it’s better to be sure she is prepared. If a mother-daughter discussion is too uncomfortable, consider a book made with girls in mind. Also make sure she knows she can come to you (and you want her to!) when she starts and help her replenish supplies as needed. This rite of passage is scary but within a few years, it will be just another part of life!

*Always consult your pediatrician with any questions regarding their menstrual cycles.



Many girls choose to start with pads for ease of use. While pads can be great protection, girls who play sports or want to swim may consider other options, at least during those activities. Pads are a great starter option to have available for when the first one hits.


Tampons have been sold in the U.S. since Earle Haas patented the first applicator-style tampon in 1933, according to the Atlantic. Because tampons involve insertion, not all tweens are immediately comfortable using them. While tampons can be a convenient option, there are some concerns to consider.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a serious bacterial infection that can cause many complications. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, limiting the amount of time you keep a tampon inserted can help reduce the risk of developing TSS. A single tampon should be used no longer than 4-8 hours.

There have also been other safety concerns with tampons. Verywell Health explains that the cotton or rayon used in tampons undergoes a bleaching process that may use chlorine. There is also a potential link of rayon to TSS. Dioxin is a pollutant found in the environment that may be present in tampons, which could increase risk of endometriosis. Others have also claimed there may be asbestos in tampons, leading to excessive bleeding. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates tampon production as a medical device and has reviewed these claims. Tampons approved by the FDA are deemed safe for short-term use.

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are an environmentally-friendly option as well as an easy one! These are insertable items made from rubber or silicone and can be worn for 12 hours at a time. The cup catches the blood while it
is still inside the body (like a tampon). When the cup is full, simply empty it into the toilet, rinse with water (and soap if you have it), and reinsert. Not only is this an eco-friendly option, it’s also budget-friendly. Purchase one cup and reuse it for months or years, sterilizing in boiling water after each cycle. No need to pack extra supplies when you’re out and about!

Menstrual Cup Brands:

  • SckoonCup
  • Lena Cup
  • Ruby Cup
  • DivaCup
  • Intimina Lily Compact Collapsible Cup
  • Lunette Cup

Period Panties

One of the newcomers on the scene (and perfect for youth) are period panties. These are designed with absorbent liners that catch the flow outside the body. Easier than a pad, tampon or cup, these are simple for any girl to wear. Period panties come in a variety of absorbencies and can be good for backup or for full protection. These are another budget-friendly option since they are reusable.

Period Panties Brands:

  • 4periodco
  • Knix
  • Thinx
  • PINK Period Panty


Period Subscription Boxes

There are now subscription boxes available for monthly delivery with period supplies. Most include protection options (pads, tampons, period panties) based on member’s preferences. Some boxes include other rotating items such as chocolate, tea, pain relievers and other mood-boosting goodies. Why not make this monthly occurrence more fun than a trip to the drugstore?

Period Subscription Box Brands:

  • Cora
  • Lady Box
  • Ruby Love
  • Bonjour Jolie
  • TOP Organic Project (first period box available)
  • LOLA (first period kit available)


  • Celebrate Your Body (and Its Changes, Too!) by Sonya Renee Taylor
  • The Period Book. A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up by Karen Gravelle