Ages and stages
Periods and menstruation
Periods and menstruation
In this section
Preparing your child menstruation and periods
When my periods started, I was given an information booklet and told that I couldn’t have sleepovers anymore. I don’t want it to be like that for my daughters.
Parent of girls 9 and 10
How to answer some common period questions
What are periods?When a girl reaches puberty, her ovaries start to release an egg (called an ovum) about once a month.
The egg travels from the ovary along a tube towards the uterus.Every month the uterus gets ready for the egg to arrive by building a thick, soft lining.
If the egg does not connect with a sperm (i.e. get fertilised), the egg and the lining of the uterus will pass out through the vagina.
It looks like thick blood and is called a period.
Once a girl starts releasing eggs (which can be before she gets her first period), she is able to get pregnant if she has penis-in-vagina sex.
When will I get my period?A girl will usually begin her periods about two years after her breasts have started to swell.
Periods usually start at around 12 or 13 years of age but can start as young as 8 or 9 years and as late as 16 years.
What do I use for my period?There are a few options for soaking up the period blood as it passes out through the vagina.
Some of the methods include:
• pads – these stick on to the underwear and come in lots of shapes and sizes
• tampons – which go into the vagina
• period underwear – special underwear designed to soak up period blood. This kind of underwear can be expensive initially but can be washed and reused
• reusable cloth pads – made from cotton or bamboo, these pads can be washed and reused
• menstrual cup – a plastic cup that goes into the vagina and is taken out, washed and reused. It can take a little getting used to
• some folded up toilet paper/tissue – if you get stuck without any of the things above.
Each method has pros and cons and it can take some experimenting before you find the method that works best for you.
Some other common questions about periods• What will I do when I get my first period?
• How will I know when it is coming?
• What will happen if I get my period at school/ during a sleepover/on camp?
• How do I dispose of pads or tampons in the school toilets?
• Do tampons hurt?
• Can a tampon fall out?
• Can I go swimming?
• Do I have to use tampons?
• How much blood comes out?
• How often do I have to change pads/tampons?
• Will I get blood on my shorts?
• Will other people be able to tell if I have my period?
There are many resources available to help parents answer questions about periods. Some are listed at the end of this page.
My mum was very open. She celebrated menstruation with a gift and a special dinner out. I will do the same with my daughter.
Parent of girl 4 and boy 6
Top tips for helping your child to manage their periods
At my school we hold a ‘girls circle’ afternoon for Year 6s that includes: education about menstruation and how to manage it; staff and community members sharing their ‘first period’ stories; and small group Q and A time. The aim is to normalise this part of puberty and provide support.
Deputy Principal and parent of girls 13 and 16