Q: My daughter is almost 13 and I expect she’ll be getting her period soon. Is it safe for her to use tampons? Are there hygiene products designed specifically for teenagers? Should she take a break from swimming lessons (as we were taught when I was her age)? Also, are there any medications safe for teens to use for relief of menstrual pain?
A: Congratulations. Our society is so rushed, we’ve lost many of the milestones we used to celebrate. The onset of menstruation is still a landmark of growing up and you’re right to suspect that things have changed.
Tampons are safe for young women and your daughter can start using them as soon as she gets her first period. There are smaller tampons available for youth; just make sure she reads the instructions and has a little patience. Tampons should not be left in for longer than eight hours and generally not overnight.
Encourage your daughter to continue with all her normal activities, including swimming. Expecting menstruation to be a curse or painful may be a self-fulfilling prophecy; many women never experience any discomfort. If your daughter does eventually need relief, have her talk to her doctor, as this will open up a new level of communication with her health care professional.