Friday, June 8, 2012

Talking to Your Daughter About Menstruation & Toxic Shock Syndrome

  I would like to invite you all to participate in a special Twitter Party today, sponsored by Be Prepared Period and You Are Loved.  This Twitter Party is designed to answer your questions on summer periods for your tweens and teens.  There are a lot of wonderful prizes.  Please join in at 2pm Eastern Time today.  Hashtag #periodtalk.

I never sat down and had the "period" talk with my girls.

When my girls were small they would come in the bathroom with me and sometimes they were there when I got my period.  They were maybe 2 or 3 years old when they became aware of me getting my period.  They had questions and I answered them.  I had not planned on having things happen that way, but that was how it happened when Allie was a toddler and I was actually really happy that it happened that way.  My view of menstruation is that it is a normal, natural part of life; it's not something to be afraid of, it's not a "curse" why not have children just grow up knowing that Mommy gets her period and that is what lets her have babies.

As my girls got older, I was increasingly glad that things had unfolded the way that they had because talk of menstruation was just completely natural and normal for us.  There was never a time when my girls were not aware of it.  There was never that guessing game of: is this the right time?  I didn't make a big deal out of it that made my girls uncomfortable.  Menstruation was just a natural, normal part of life and our conversations.

As my girls got older, our conversations went from "women get their period so they can have babies" to "women have what is called a uterus, where the baby grows and every month a woman's body prepares for a baby, by accumulating blood in the uterus so it's nice and cushy and rich with nutrients; but if there is no baby, then all that blood has to come out".

"Does it hurt?" they might ask.  "Not a lot," I would reply honestly.  "Sometimes, a little bit, because the uterus has to contract to get the blood out.  Do you know what contracting is?"...and we would discuss muscle contractions.

They knew about sanitary napkins from an early age.   I personally don't use tampons often, but there are some in the bathroom and the girls asked about them, so we discussed them too.  One time I even got a glass of water and put the tampon in so we could watch it expand and open up.

If you would like information on preparing your daughter for her first period, there is a wonderful website Be Prepared Period which will help you with dialog, answering questions and you can order organic feminine care products and period kits.

We made getting her period a Mother-Daughter Celebration
I wouldn't say that Allie was overjoyed about getting her period, she did see it as sort of the end of being a little girl, but she took it in stride.  I told her about my poor mother who was not prepared to get her period and was convinced that the blood was a sign that she was dying.

A friend suggested that the day Allie get her first period, I take her out for a mother-daughter only dinner at a nice restaurant of her choice.  So we did that.  We dressed up and we went to a fancy, high end restaurant, just the two of us and we ate and talked and just celebrated being women, having each other, being mother-daughter.  It was one of the best nights of my entire life and Allie always talks about that night as such a great night for her too!

I don't use tampons often and my personal inclination is not to let my girls use them until they are much older.  But we did talk about Toxic Shock Syndrome and to be honest, after hearing that you could get a high fever and sore throat from using tampons, Allie said that she didn't want to use them.  I said she may change her mind sometime when she is older, but for now I thought it best for her not to use them.

Moms, I urge you to talk to your tween and teen daughters about the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome.  One of the women in our church had it when she was young and she was hospitalized for quite a while.

  • Toxic Shock Syndrom is real and it can be fatal
  • It affects primarily young & healthy women
  • It can lead to kidney failure and cardiac arrest
Toxic Shock Syndrome occurs when the common bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus produce a toxin which is absorbed into the bloodstream.  This toxin quickly overwhelms the immune system.  Symptoms include sore throat, achy muscles, high fever, rash, confusion, dizziness, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea.  Not all women get all symptoms. If one or two of these symptoms occur, remove tampon immediately and SAVE IT! , seek immediate medical attention, bring tampon and inform the physician that the tampon was being used when symptoms began.

For more information and advice on talking to your daughter about Toxic Shock Syndrome, please visit:  You Are

I was not compensated in any way for my involvement with these websites.
I was merely asked to write a blog post to inform readers and help them to talk with their daughters about getting their periods and the risks of TSS.