Preteens & Periods – A Parent’s Guide

Preteens & Periods – A Parent’s Guide

Most girls get their first period when they’re 12 or 13 years old, but some girls get their first period as early as age 8 or as late as age 16. Navigating that first period – and subsequent menstrual cycles – can be challenging for young girls, and knowing what’s normal and what isn’t can be challenging for parents, who often have only their own experience to go on.

Here’s what you need to know to guide your preteen or teen, including when it’s time to see a doctor. 

How often should my preteen get her period?

It can take as long as 6 years for your daughter’s period to regulate, but most menstrual cycles (the number of days between the first day of one period to the first day of the next period) range from 21-45 days long. 

How long should her period last?

In most cases, the first few periods are very light. In fact, a little spotting that can be easily absorbed by a liner is very normal. Periods generally last from 2-7 days. 

What if she experiences cramping?

Although not everyone has painful periods, cramping is normal and can usually be managed using heating pads, ibuprofen, and exercise.

When is it appropriate to wear tampons?

It’s appropriate when your daughter is both comfortable wearing tampons and responsible enough to change it as often as needed to prevent serious infection. We have some patients as young as 12 years old who wear tampons so they can continue to participate in sports like swim team, and we have some adult patients who simply don’t feel comfortable and will likely never wear a tampon. Both are okay.

When should she see a doctor?

Your daughter should continue with annual well-child visits after she starts her period. In some cases, however, she may need to see an OBGYN. Here are some of the reasons you may need to schedule an appointment with the caring team at Folsom: 

  • Period-related pain and cramping are interfering with everyday activities like school, sports, or work
  • 12 months after her first period, her periods are still less than 2 days or more than 7 days long
  • 12 months after her first period, her cycles are still less than 21 days or more than 45 days long
  • She experiences heavy bleeding (bleeds through a pad or tampon every 1-2 hours)
  • She hasn’t started her period by age 15
  • She was having regular periods and they stopped for three months or more

At Folsom, we specialize in providing a confidential and safe space for your preteen or teen to share her concerns. It is our goal to earn her trust and ensure a positive relationship with her body now and in the future.

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