The average girl gets her first period when she's 12 years old, but according to child development experts at the Kids Health website, you shouldn't wait until then to talk with your teen about menstruation. Your teen needs to know what feminine hygiene products are available, as well as how to use them and the benefits of each. Teaching your teen about pads and tampons will put her in control of her period and empower her to make healthy choices as she develops into a young woman.
Explain to your teen that she doesn't need to choose just one type of hygiene product. For example, she might prefer to wear tampons at night or pads during the day when her period is light.
Ask your teen if she would prefer to try pads or tampons first. Some girls don't like the idea of inserting a tampon in their vagina, so they feel more comfortable using pads.
Tell your teen that she does not need to stop doing a favorite activity, such as swimming or dancing, during her period. Explain that hygiene products, such as tampons, will allow her to continue these activities as usual.
Give your teen pads of varying thicknesses and lengths to try before she gets her period. Ask her to wear each until she finds the ones that feel most comfortable to her.
Teach your teen to insert a tampon when she feels ready. Have your teen wash and dry her hands, then tell her to stand in a comfortable position. Tell her to hold the tampon with the string end pointing away from her body. She should then hold open the labia, or skin surrounding the vagina, with one hand. With her other hand, instruct her to insert the tampon into her vagina. If the tampon has an applicator, tell her to push it forward. The applicator will release the tampon, and she can now remove it and throw it away.
Explain that when your teen has inserted a tampon correctly, she won't feel it. She might feel worried that inserting a tampon will hurt. Assure her that although she may feel some slight discomfort when she uses a tampon for the first time, she shouldn't feel pain while wearing a tampon.
Tell your teen to change her pad or tampon regularly. The instructions that came with her product will tell her how long she can wear it before changing. Girls with a heavy flow should change their tampon or pad at least every four hours.
Ask your teen to dispose of her feminine hygiene product properly. Tell her that she shouldn't flush the product down the toilet, as it can clog the plumbing. Instead, she should put the product in the trash can.
Teach your teen about toxic shock syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic website, this rare bacterial infection can develop when your teen leaves her tampon in for too long. It also happens more often when wearing a super-absorbent tampon. Symptoms of this infection include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, high fever and a sunburn-like rash on the palms and soles of the feet.
Applying a dab of personal or vaginal lubricant to the end of a tampon will make insertion easier and more comfortable.
Some girls might think that tampons can cause them to lose their virginity. Assure your teen that this isn't true.