Every mother with a daughter is well aware that at some point in time her little girl will attain puberty and start transforming into a woman like her. It is natural that her daughter will eventually undergo the process of menstruation at an age ranging between 9 and 15 years. Your lean girl or sporty and active daughter may be initiated into the cycle a bit late, but it should not be cause for worry because every individual’s physiology is different. However, if your daughter has not gotten into the process by age 15, you would require the advice of a professional medical healthcare provider.
What is menstruation?
As a girl reaches puberty, the hormonal changes in her body triggered by the pituitary gland in her brain effects physical as well as physiological changes, the physical changes are manifest in the growth of breasts and pubic hair. The physiological change signals the secretion of estrogen. This prompts the release of an egg from the ovary to lodge in the uterus. After a fortnight, if this egg is not fertilized by the sperm, it is discarded along with the now thickened uterine lining to ooze out of the vagina in the form of blood that lasts for four to five days. It is also called period, menses and by a host of other names. This cycle is repeated once in 28 days for a healthy individual.
Initiation of the girl into puberty:
One’s mother is the most important individual to ease your daughter into her menstrual cycle. You need to prepare her as to what to expect and how to cope with this natural phenomenon hygienically without fear and apprehension. In the Indian context, it is more pertinent because of the stigma attached to this biological process. The taboo imposed on the girls is so severe that a majority of girls drop out of schools during their menarche. It is all the more necessary that the mother inculcates in her girl child the inevitability of this as an important and natural part of procreation. Proper education and awareness to instil menstrual hygiene can go a long way in ensuring a healthy growth of the girl child.
Why is menstrual hygiene important?
Menstruation in India is considered to be a taboo. All-pervading gender inequality does not help the matter. On the contrary, a menstrual process which consumes about six to seven years of an entire female life needs proper menstrual hygiene management to ensure the fundamental dignity of women in the country. It is a girl’s right to basic sanitation, reproductive health, and hygiene.
How do you cope with menstruation?
With the onset of puberty, your daughter is not required to be restrained from all her activities. For her schooling, sports or extra-curricular activities; menstruation need not be an inhibiting factor. It is in this situation most mothers are in a predicament as to what would suit her daughter best during this time. A menstruation product guide would be most handy to a mother at such time.
What is the classification of period products?
Essentially the period products are broadly divided into two basic types; external protection and internal protection.
- External protection: These are aids that absorb the menstrual flow outside the body Eg. Pads and liners.
- Internal protection: These are products placed within the vagina to absorb the fluid before the menstrual flow leaves the body. Eg. Tampons and cups.
What are the readily available period products?
There are many period products in the market, both of the External and Internal protection types that may suit your teenage daughter depending on the nature of her activities and affordability.
- Pads: Commonly called sanitary napkins, might be the number one choice for your daughter’s first period. They are designed with highly absorbent material to stick in place inside the panty with an adhesive and may turn out to be the most convenient for her using the trial and error method. There are many varieties of pads including sizes, material, and shapes to add to the comfort level of the user. With the invention of biodegradable pads, a healthy option for your daughter is available.
- Cloth pads: These are reusable fabric pads with the same features matching regular disposable pads. If you do not have anathema towards menstrual blood, this type of pad is economical and environment-friendly because you can simply rinse and reuse it.
- Liners: They are smaller and leaner versions of pads worn by girls like regular pads when the flow is not heavy. Some prefer them for daily use also as a safety measure. But it should be remembered that it is not wise to do so as the artificial material used in liners pose a health risk of vaginal infections. Biodegradable liners are a great healthy alternative that can be worn every day.
- Tampon: This is an internal protection menstrual product that is inserted within the vagina, with a little string hanging out for extrication at the time of casting off. They are available in different sizes, shapes, flexibility, and absorbencies to suit your daughter’s specific needs and preferences. This is ideal if your daughter is active in sports, but it takes time to get accustomed to. So it is better that she gets used to pads first and then switches to tampons gradually.
- Menstrual cup: These are spongy cups placed within the vagina to collect the menstrual flow. These are difficult to use and needs some practice before your daughter gets the hang of it. It is therefore not the first choice for your daughter.
- Sea sponge: This is a natural sea product used moist as a substitute to tampons and menstrual cups. However, young girls are best dissuaded from using these.
- Period panties: These are new products suitable for the teens which have absorbent polymer support within the inner wear.
- Period kit: Make sure your daughter is equipped with this period kit with her chosen menstruation product inside her school bag to give her the confidence that will stand her in good stead.
Are there biodegradable menstrual products?
Most of the pads available in the market are made of extremely absorbent polymers and chlorine bleached, which harm the environment. But now biodegradable pads are available which use plant cellulose which is fully compostable like Heyday sanitary napkins made from corn and bamboo fibre.
When a daughter attains puberty, the mother requires immense equanimity to overcome her predicament to impart awareness and guide her with the right choice of menstrual product to cope with her blues with the first step into womanhood. Thankfully, there are a plethora of menstrual products to guide and lead her teenage daughter to cope with the experience of menstruation.