Someone asked us:
Q. My daughter will be 11 this year, and will probably begin menstruation at any time. When should she have her first gyn exam and what are her options during menstruation? Pads only, or what? I purchased her a really good book on puberty and have spoken with her on the topic (Not as much as I would have liked; she gets embarrassed, but I’ve seen her reading the book in her room, so that’s good, at least.) and I’m unsure what else I should do to prepare her. Any advice?
It’s great that you’re thinking about this on behalf of your daughter! Women should start getting Pap tests, which happen during a pelvic exam, when they’re 21 years old. But once your daughter gets her period you may want to schedule a gynecologist appointment for her. During this visit, she can ask questions and talk with a nurse or doctor about growing up, changes in her body, and any concerns she has. These checkups will help make sure that she’s healthy and developing as she should. Most often, these early visits don’t include a pelvic exam.
Now, about her first period: Your daughter can use tampons or pads — whatever feels most comfortable for her. The Info for Teens section of our website has a lot of information about getting your period, how to use tampons and pads, and puberty. While your daughter is checking all that out, you might want to take a look at the Tools for Parents section for help on talking with your daughter about sex and her body and keeping her healthy.
And remember, the staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can answer any questions you or your daughter may have about getting a check up and how to deal with periods.
-Amy at PPFA