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  • Writer's pictureKonrad Kowalczyk

Period Panties for Teens

Girl, you’ll be a woman soon

The day I got my period was one of the most mortifying days of my life. Not only did my mother “announce” it to my entire family (including my two brothers) like it was some major accomplishment worthy of the pride-filled smile on her face, but as if my embarrassment wasn’t fully realized yet, she then got on the horn and phoned every single relative we had to let them know the wonderful news. That I had transitioned from girlhood and was a “woman” now. Cringe.

Not only that but she then came into the bathroom where I was trying to soak off my shame and embarrassment and told me that I now had the potential to create another human being inside me. This induction to ‘womanhood’ was horrific. Not something I wanted to ever inflict on any child of mine. Blessed with a daughter and still with my memory of that awful day very much etched into my psyche, her ‘transition’ was such a non-event, she had to remind me to go to the shops to buy her some menstrual products. Possibly not the best response either. Surely there must be a healthy and correct response to the moment when our tween transitions from child into ‘of-child-bearing age’.

One of the keys would be to talk early and often. One thing I think I definitely got right was that the body and it’s functions were always open and interesting topics up for discussion and from a young age nothing to do with the body was ever a taboo subject. The earlier you begin to talk to your child about the changes they can expect during puberty, the better. Don’t tell all in some horrible “the talk” manner, rather from a young age give them age-appropriate information factually and frankly. If your child has any questions about any topic to do with puberty, menstruation or sex, answer them with honesty and without expressing any opinions you may have.

By the time your daughter gets to puberty, she will know what to expect and there won’t be any surprises either in the form of changes or embarrassing ‘talks’. There are so many voices coming at teenager girls from every direction: family, friends, tv, social media, celebrities, teachers, pastors and everyone else. These voices can influence how girls view themselves, how they relate to others, the choices they make, how they view the world, faith, other people and themselves. It is vitally important that our daughters know which voices are trustworthy and which ones they should be listening to.

Some things to remember when speaking with your daughter about menstruation is to:

  • Talk about period facts

Talk about how it varies for each girl, but some have their period for 3 days and others have it for a week. Periods can be light, moderate, or heavy, and there can be a total of 2-4 tablespoons (30-59 milliliters) of blood. And this can vary from period to period in the same girl.

  • Check your own opinion about periods.

I suffer from endometriosis and my periods are excruciating, with heavy flow and sometimes very limiting, but they are not the norm. I did not want to put the fear of crippling and debilitating pain into her if there was a chance she wouldn’t inherit it. There’s always a chance she will inherit it and might still but I didn’t want her dreading the thought of getting her period.

  • De-mystify the physical details.

An open and frank discussion about exactly how everything works with the uterus and the ovaries and the lining being prepared for a fertilized seed, sounds more like a harmless lesson in gardening. Keeping talk about the menstruation cycle as normal and factual as possible takes the emotion out of a subject that unfortunately is still taboo in some cultures. This should not be an ‘awkward’ thing to talk about.

  • Explore menstrual supply options together There are not only many more options available today but there are also many more products which are environmentally friendly-options, which is a subject that is of more and more importance to today’s young women than it was back when I was shopping for non-bio-degradable ‘surf-boards. Options such as menstrual cups, re-usable pads, organic tampons and the fabulous new alternative ‘period panties’ which are wonderful if you’re absolutely over pads and tampons. These period panties are designed to be worn without tampons or pads and meant to soak up menstrual blood while still keeping you as dry as possible. All-natural, washable, re-usable and without the bulk of and hassle of pads. Earlier versions of period undies have been around since before World War I, but these were made of all waterproof rubber, which meant leakproof protection but not very breathable or sanitary.

  • Empower her to handle the logistics.

Make sure you have explained exactly how the product is used and that, especially with tampons, it’s a bit tricky to get the insertion correct the first few times. Knowing how her body works, and being comfortable touching her body, will help her navigate tampons and cups with confidence.

  • Get the men in your life involved in the conversation

Menstruation is a natural part of life and more than half of the population has periods as more than half of the population are female. It should not be a taboo or awkward or embarrassing topic to have among family members and the men and boys in the family should be just as comfortable having these conversations too.

  • Teach girls to have each other’s backs.

Teach your daughter to be kind and sensitive to others who may have an accident or leak at school and to have their back and offer support and help in a way that is kind and respectful.

Having the start of your period announced to the world is not how most girls would like to celebrate the arrival of their menstrual cycle, but it is still a wonderful and precious coming-of-age moment in the life of a young woman. It’s still a moment for a mom to look into her daughter’s eyes and see the woman she is becoming. Being able to conceive, carry and deliver a child is a marvel of nature and definitely a momentous occasion worth celebrating. But the coming of age of a young woman is best handled when it is planned, openly spoken about and handled with respect and love.

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