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5 things teens want to know about periods

By Mical Imbukwa
Parents, who do you trust to educate their children about periods? Yourself? Teachers? Aunties/Uncles? The church? No one? Whatever the case, it is important that your home become the first safe, vibrant, and informed space where our children can learn about periods. 

To support you in #havingthetalk, I have compiled a list of five things your children want to know about menstruation:

1. What causes a period?

Pre-adolescents are confused – and want to know, about what’s actually happening to their bodies during their period. First, assure them that menstruation is a natural process that typically lasts around 3 to 7 days, but this can vary, some people have regular periods while some have them irregularly. 

Next, go into why periods occur. Below is an easy-to-understand explanation that you can use: 

A period happens once a month (although it can happen more often in some women with a 21-day cycle and a little less often in those who experience 35 35-day cycles) when blood and tissue build up in the uterus in preparation for pregnancy. If the woman or girl doesn’t become pregnant, the uterine lining breaks down and leaves the body as blood through the vagina. 

2. What does the color of period blood mean? 

Pre-teens worry about what the color changes in period blood mean. Explain that the color of the menses might range from bright red to darker brown and it is normal for the color to change throughout the cycle. 

Here is an article you can refer to 6-period blood colors and what they mean.

3. Why do I cramp while my friend doesn’t? 

Mention that some people experience pain while others do not. Some people might experience extreme pain while some may have it mild. Let your child know that if they experience cramps, there are ways to manage it. In some cases, the pain might require medical attention, but normal cramps can be managed at home. Share various methods for managing menstrual cramps, such as using heating pads, taking pain relievers, practicing relaxation techniques, and getting enough rest. 

Here is an article you can refer to why are my periods so painful?

4. What menstrual products should I use?

Introduce your pre-teen to different menstrual products such as pads and tampons and explain to them how they work and how to use them properly. Emphasize the importance of changing them regularly for hygiene purposes. Explain that the product one chooses to use is based on cost and personal comfort.

Here is an article you can refer to Pads, cups, and tampons

5. Why do I feel moody during that time of the month?

Talk about the emotional and physical symptoms that some people experience before their period, such as mood swings, cramps, and bloating. Share strategies for managing these symptoms. Encourage your child to have open and supportive conversations about periods with friends. Share tips on how to be understanding and provide emotional support to one another. For instance, when a friend soils their dress with menses, instead of laughing at them or mocking them, they should offer them a pad and help them clean up. 

Here is an article you can refer to PMS: top facts


Approach these conversations with sensitivity, understanding, an open mind, and a willingness to address any concerns your child might have. Create an environment where your child feels comfortable asking questions and discussing their experiences. 

If you are unsure about how to answer a question, acknowledge that you don’t know and offer to research the topic together with them. Otherwise, have confidence and remember that you are not alone – there is a whole community of parents who are still trying to find the words to explain what a uterus lining is! 

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