Teens & Menstruation

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi BPN, my almost-12 year old has had her period for a little over six months. It's still very erratic but seems to be arriving more frequently (like every 2-3 weeks) and is extremely heavy. She's not yet comfortable with tampons (we're working on it) and so she's stressing to change out a high-absorbency pad every hour, which is impeding on her desire to go to school, play sports, etc. I had similarly intense periods (severe cramping and heavy bleeding) when I was a young teen, and finally got relief when I went on the pill at age 15. Are there **any** options for young girls dealing with this? Is birth control an option and when? I'll be speaking with our pediatrician about this as well but am interested in what others have heard from their doctors that I should proactively bring up. Thanks!

    Yes, please talk to her doctor! It takes a body some time to regulate periods, but there are options. What I want to encourage you to do at that appointment as well is to request a test to check for iron-deficiency anemia (a ferritin test). When periods are so heavy and frequent, it can lead to anemia, which is under-diagnosed. My teenager was getting her period every 2 weeks and was severely anemic. We got her an IUD because she also gets migraines so she couldn’t go on the pill. There’s also a medicine that helps reduce the bleeding (can’t remember what it’s called). But thank you so much for advocating for your child!

    Hi there! Wanted to share that our pediatrician was very proactive about recommending and prescribing a low-hormone birth control pill when my daughter shared her troubles with heavy, long periods and bad cramping.  My teen is older (17) but I think you should definitely talk with your child's doctor about it.  Unless there is a medical reason to delay taking it, I hope your pediatrician will be supportive.  It is really tough for these girls who are just learning to be comfortable with their bodies, how to plan ahead, take time for what they need etc.  It also seems they don't have enough time between class periods to get to the bathroom to change their pads/tampons as often as needed on heavy days. There needs to be widespread period-justice movement/awareness at our middle and high schools to ensure that girls can go to the bathroom when needed and also have access to supplies. And not feel ashamed or embarrassed!

    It is quite typical today to give hormonal BC for painful periods at any age; I've not heard of negative side effects, up to and including seeing a report that it didn't "encourage" earlier sexual activity, either, which has been a concern for some parents. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12287401/) I was just looking into it last month to catch up since it's been a while since I was on the pill.

    Still, the conversation is best had with the doctor to rule out anything unusual and create a plan together. I too suffered this way my whole life and am glad for my daughter that our doctor didn't blink about going on the pill (although my kiddo is 15; their periods just became debilitatingly painful in the last year). Shorter, easier, less painful periods, and even acne control and the ability to control when they happen and or skip periods for convenience were all discussed at their appointment.

    Note: this was at an ob/gyn, not pediatrician. The pill was prescribed without need for an actual gynecological or physical exam beyond taking vital signs, because my kiddo is not yet in need of that.

    In the meantime, I can't say enough about period underwear, used with or without a pad for backup. ModiBodi and Aisle are two brands that are free of PFAS and well-rated, and they really do work. It puts the mind at ease.

    This is so hard! My DD had a similar experience and her pediatrician shared that this is pretty common when they begin menses. Eventually it evened out, but it did take some time, like maybe 24 months. I second the recommendation for period underwear - DD uses these in conjunction with a pad so that there are no leaks and it works really well. 

    I am so sorry to hear this as I had that too and honestly it was the worst pain I ever experienced.

    One suggestion is see an acupuncturist who is geared to women's issues or even infertility because then they focus on your cycle. Get someone experienced. I am sure they can help at least somewhat and maybe even a lot. I didn't do this for period pain but I went to an acupuncturist at the recommendation of my IVF doctor because it increases chances of pregnancy and I was amazed to see that within just a few sessions my period was back (I was 39 and hadn't much of a period for about a year) and that instead of the dark clumping period I had had for years, it looked bright red and healthy without all those dark clumps, something I literally hadn't seen in years. So they can definitely change the flow and maybe even lower the pain level. Try it for a month - 4 sessions, she should see results by then.

    One pain tip is to put 2 tennis balls in a sock for pressure points in bed at night. Place under the lower back at the end of the tail bone, and move around until finding the spot that provides relief. Another really effective pressure point is at the top of the hip - when standing feel the top of the hip, press thumb down hard but move it around a bit until finding the right spot - usually inward from the hip bone and down a bit  and that should totally stop all the pain - just for the moment you do it but if it is an intense moment then it's nice to have a tool to at least stop the pain for a second.

    I also found that stretching helped a relief the pain for 20 minutes or so - not just leaning at sides, but touching toes all of that gets tight. This doesn't really address your concerns but thought I'd throw it out there. I have all the sympathy in the world for your daughter and it's great that you are helping her find some relief.

  • My daughter just turned 11 and started her period. She is on her 13th day of her period and is still experiencing a heavy flow. We took her to the doctor and her hemoglobin level is healthy. She feels fine other than having such an intense first period experience. If we choose to intervene the doctor is suggesting either an extremely high dosage of ibuprofen or putting her on birth control. Does anyone know any natural methods to regulate period cycles when they first start? I am going to try to find a pediatric acupuncturist. I am so worried about the side effects of giving such a little girl birth control pills but I am also so worried since her period is showing not signs of stopping. I've done a lot of research and it looks like irregular periods are very common but I think her scenario is pretty extreme. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks!

    Hi there, 

    I'm sorry you both have to go through this - I think you are on the right track with acupuncture - that is the next route I would take.  

    My daughter got her period at 12 and it was really long as well, though not quite as long. She also got them really close, like every 3 weeks for a long while. Mine have always been super regular and not as heavy so I was also concerned about the length and frequency.

    Then I consulted my OBGYN, who shared that it is pretty common for periods to be long, heavy and often (or short, light and infrequent) when girls first start menstruation. Hormones are something - anything goes!

    Things we did were make sure to be consuming hormone free meats and dairy (and watch soy and other vegetarian hormone sources). As long as her blood work is good and she feels ok it's probably fine - just her body transitioning. You're doing all the right things!

    One more thing, it took a couple years for my daughter's periods to even out - it may take some time, but eventually it will likely settle down - best to you both!

    If it stays this way and other options don't improve it - you might want to insist they look for a blood disorder.  It's incredibly rare but that is what it turned out to be for a friend of mine.  Medical community wasn't helpful and only started to look when her daughter had issues.  

    I feel your concern for your 11 year old and it means a lot that you are there for her! I recommend having a look at Aviva Romm's Hormone Intelligence book, and info on her podcasts and website. She posits a lot of hormone imbalance in our modern life or most or all of us and outlines some ways to regain or promote balance. Worth a dive I think. 

    I highly suggest you get a second opinion. I worked with a student that this happened to and she actually was bleeding internally, and had a very rare condition. While this is unlikely, I do suggest a second opinion. 

    You could try getting in touch with Lauren Kaneko-Jones at Mitchell Family Acupuncture (off Solano Ave in Berkeley). She’s our family acupuncturist and sees a lot of girls needing help to regulate their hormones.


    My daughter experienced something similar. It takes a few years for the cycles to become more regulated. My girl experienced long cycles, very frequent cycles, delayed cycles, some spotting in between. I was extremely worried but slowly her body adapted to the new changes. Now few years later it is very normal and regular.She is healthy and manages everything well.

    Our pediatrician had suggested to give some time ( few years)..

    As a parent I totally understand your concern. Make sure your daughter is eating healthy and keep track of everything. Maintain a log. Maybe after a few months you will have a clearer picture. 

    Best wishes 

    I highly recommend a natural tea that helped me reduce my flow dramatically. It is raspberry leaf tea. It is available in the bulk area of Re-Up Refill at 6025 College Avenue (https://reuprefills.org/) near Claremont. They might be willing to mail it to you if you are not local. I made a cup of the tea daily using a tablespoon of the tea leaves for the two weeks prior to my period. I hope this suggestion helps.

    We're going through a similar issue with my daughter right now, but for her it's that she has her period every two weeks and she has become anemic. This also happened to me when I was young. It does take quite some time for our bodies to start ovulating on a regular basis. First off, please have them check for anemia by doing a ferritin test, not by using hemoglobin as a proxy. This is really crucial! Serum ferritin measures how much iron is stored in the body, and it is a much more sensitive test for iron deficiency than hemoglobin. They should also evaluate her for Von Willebrand disease and other blood clotting abnormalities. For us, our pediatrician ran all of these when she put in the referral to gynecology. Which is another suggestion---see the gynecologist with her! She's not too young, and everyone deserves the advice of an expert! One option our gyn gave us was tranexamic acid, which helps reduce the amount of bleeding when you are having your period and is only taken during your period, but it's not a hormone and it won't regulate her period. When I was a teenager and having a similar problem (period for 2 weeks at a time, with 2 weeks in between), I went on a short course of hormones to get my body to ovulate in a more regular schedule and then I went off of them once things were more even (a few months, I think). My daughter's gynecologist gave us A LOT more options and ideas than our regular doctor, so please go see the specialist.

    Look for an *Adolescent* gynecologist (what a great specialty!)  A quick websearch shows:

    Dr. Deepti Gupta MD, FACOG, Doctor in Berkeley, CA - Professional Interests. Gynecology (only). Abnormal uterine bleeding, Adolescent gynecology

    I find this discussion to be odd. It is your daughter's first menstrual period and her body is doing something quite amazing. Yes, her bleeding may be lengthly for many remembering their first time but not for her. Extreme or not I hope she is getting the message that bodies especially a women's body finds its rhythm and balance, and does not need correction just understanding. If her hemoglobin is fine and there is no deep discomfort let her body regulate on its own. My first few cycles were very heavy and it was alarming to bleed and not feel that something was wrong. It was my grandmother who comforted and assured me I was fine and strong. She cooked me liver and onions, beets, and collard greens which I loved. Hugged and kissed me and exclaimed how proud she was to see me come into my womanhood. My flow abated and I settled into a four-day flow. I trust she will be fine.Let her know that.   

  • Advice for first period

    Nov 3, 2020

    Hello all

    please give me all your advice and product recommendations! I had a terrible time as a menstruating child and want to get it right. My daughter hasn’t started yet, she’s 11 but i want to be ready.

    Pads? Which ones? Pain relief? Which one? Any and all wisdom appreciated! 

    Thank you!

    I recommend raspberry leaf tea or tincture to lessen the heaviness of flow. It made a huge difference for me when I used it five years ago. The staff are really sweet and can talk to you about it at the Homestead Apothecary located in Temescal Lane (https://homesteadapothecary.com/). I like the fact that it is easy to use as a tincture, not extremely expensive, and is natural.

    When my daughter got her period I made a gift basket/starter kit to "celebrate" the experience, (I knew she was going to have a rough time with it). I wanted her to be able to figure out what worked for her, so I bought various pads (panty liners, regular & overnight) and tampons (multi sizes), a few pairs of period underwear, a small bag for her to use in school, a heating pad, and some good chocolate! She really appreciated it & we had a sweet moment over it. :)

    I could have written your post 3 years ago - when my girl was approaching that time I purchased this through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B3SW3K2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asi…

    It's a great 'my first period' kit with lots of different sizes/styles to try. I think the key for my daughter was being able to try different things to see what worked for her, and switch it up when it didn't. So I also bought other kinds/brands (organic, dye free, etc) to supplement the kit. She was NOT interested in tampons (still not) and after 3 years has found a groove with a brand she likes.  I also purchased these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DETC9CA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asi… which she ended up using WITH a pad - I think the extra layer of protection makes her feel more comfortable. I've been wearing something similar for years and am happy with the combo.

    As for meds, she does get cramps, but a warm heating pad and some Tylenol does the trick. Also, FWIW, it took about 2 years for her to become 'regular' so don't be surprised by stops and starts along the way. The cramps seem to have lessened as the years have gone by. Some of the journey was emotionally draining for us both, but as she adjusted to her 'new' body, we made it!

    You're a super mom for planning it out - just your thoughtfulness will go a long way towards making it smoother! 

    My 12-year-old daughter started her period in June. I just couldn't imagine that the pads I wear would make any sense at all in her teeny underwear, so I stocked up on some "teen" pads: Kotex ultra thin teen pads with wings (available on Amazon). I haven't actually opened one up to see how the size compares, but my daughter seems to be using them fine.

    Swimming hasn't come up yet, but at some point, ahead of next summer, I'll introduce tampons (or a period cup, if she's interested). Tampons are something I really struggled with learning as a teen, but what eventually worked for me was learning with applicator-free tampons covered in lubricant, so I'll start right off with that for my daughter when the time comes. 

    And thank goodness we can all be relaxed about period mess-ups these days, thanks to oxyclean, which makes blood stains a non-issue. That's a nice change from when I was a girl!

  • Tween Period app

    Oct 31, 2020

    I’ve searched around online and have had little success finding a period tracking app for my 11-year-old who just started her period. She’d like to use an app to track, which I think is great and will work much better than old-school calendar for her (for multiple reasons). 

    However, it doesn’t seem like anything out there is meant for tweens. Most of them have fertility trackers built in and / or sex & body education, etc meant for older teens or women. I’m totally up for my daughter having good info but it has to be age appropriate. Has anyone found a decent app? (Btw, I did find one ‘Magic Girl’ which looked only ok but was age-appropriate. But it is no longer available.)

    Please share any suggestions on period tracking for young tweens, apps or otherwise (though really she’s not likely to use a paper calendar accurately or at all).


    This article does mention "magic girl" but other apps are mentioned at the bottom of the article: https://mamaknowsitall.com/best-period-apps-for-girls/


     I never found a tracking app that wasn’t fertility-focused (I needed it for myself), so I just use the calendar app that is already on my phone. Depending on the app, you can even set up separate calendars for different needs (school assignments, appointments, etc.) and see all of them at once, or select which are visible. When I have an upcoming doctor’s appointment, I put the info in a spreadsheet and email it to my doctor. Your daughter certainly doesn’t need to do anything like that, but depending on her personality she might enjoy graphing what she is learning about her changing body.

    Another approach: Have you suggested that she look at the available apps to see if one ‘speaks’ to her. She can ignore the stuff that doesn’t apply to her, but will have that available to her as she gets older and it becomes relevant.

    SF Mom

    If she has an Apple product, their Health App has "Cycle Tracking" which seems pretty straightforward and not fertility based. 

    My daughter uses Flo, which she started using as a young teen. I wish I had access to this resource when I got my period. If you are menstruating, knowing about ovulation is age-appropriate.  Regardless of being sexually active or not, understanding what is happening at different points in your cycle is helpful.  For years as a teen (with no interest in fertility) I was perplexed by monthly changes in my body (not just having a period), and an app that could explain these would have been appreciated.  Knowledge is good!

  • 24 year old daughter has severe “period related” depression.  I had same thing and never treated it (mistake). She’s been prescribed Lexapro. Anyone have experience good or bad? Thank you so much from both of us.

    Please ignore this if you've already thought about this route, but in case you haven't, I wanted to say that I had the same thing, and it went away with continuous (i.e. no break week every three weeks) low-dose hormonal birth control.  I stopped getting my period, and I stopped having the intense misery that went along with it.  (Occasionally I get a bit of break-through bleeding; for me it's worth it.)  Obviously birth control can cause depression in some people, so mileage varies -- but for me it was the best.

    I’ve had good a good experience with Lexapro for medication resistant depression/anxiety. 

    Has your daughter been checked for endometriosis? Painful periods is the first sign of endo. I would make an appointment with dr Opaku-Ananie (sp) she is an endometriosis specialist and talk to her about the symptoms and possible laparascopy. There is also a great support group called Nancy's Nook on FB, they provide a lot of useful information in relation to endo. 

    I started Lexapro a couple months ago for anxiety and depression and can’t believe how much better I feel. I really resisted it and now I regret that. It is very clear to me now that I needed medical treatment. I’m in my 40’s so different age and life stage than your daughter - but I would say she should give it a try.  

    +1 on investing the birth control possibility if you haven't already. I've had friends for whom that worked. I took Lexapro for years for mild-ish depression, and it worked pretty well. I took it at night because one of the side effects was drowsiness. (Given that another side effect can be insomnia it sounds like experiences vary in that regard.) I've taken other anti-depressants and my experience of the side effects with Lexapro were pretty minimal, FWIW. Good luck!

    I was on lexapro in my 20s and loved it. First month it made me really nauseated but that went  away and my anxiety disappeared. It was a great time in my life as a result. When I got into a serious relationship I got off of it because it made it harder to orgasm but otherwise it was my perfect drug. Never had any luck with other anti depressants. One of these days I plan to get back on it! 

  • Looking for advice on reusable menstrual products for my daughter who will likely start her period very soon.  I myself use the Diva cup, but I don't think she'll be comfortable with that for awhile.  I've been looking online and all the different options are a bit overwhelming especially now that there is menstrual underwear.  Any recs on Gladrags vs Lunapads vs Thinx vs Knixwear?  Thanks in advance

    LunaPads has a "beginner kit." I'm sure the other companies do too. You can go online, check them out and see if you think any would fit for your daughter. When my daughter was in 5th grade, she made her own travel kit just in case she started her period when she was at school or not at home. I used that opportunity to begin to talk about my experiences with menstruation, supplies, how to put in a tampon, birth control, sex, etc. We both found that activity helped us connect at a deeper level. While we were talking about it, I asked whether she wanted to use reusable or disposable pads/tampons/Diva, tampons or pads, that sort of thing. She felt more comfortable starting out with disposable pads, so that's how we packed her kit. We also packed things like an extra pair of underwear, thermacare menstrual wraps for cramps, some candy so she could cheer herself up, money in case she needed to buy supplies at a store, etc. Now she switches back and forth comfortably between disposable tampons and pads, depending on her activity. I would encourage you to talk with your daughter about menstruation and what she thinks her preferences might be for supplies, so she has ownership over her experience. Hope this helps.

    Well I understand the environmental impacts of disposables, I encourage you to have your daughter try out, prior to starting her period,  numerous different options at home,  to see what she is most comfortable with. I also recommend getting a natural lubricant product  for her to use when trying out tampons, etc. as a choice. She might go for a reusable product, but she might not. As a young woman dealing with her first periods, this may be enough of a challenge. Dealing with trying to change underpants or clean a diva cup and what to do with a soiled one in a girls restroom at middle school might be a bit much at first. 

    As the parent of a teen girl, I asked my teen. She uses disposable and recommends disposables, with "wings," absolutely until your daughter is more comfortable with the situation. My daughter was aghast at the thought of using non-disposables at school.

  • My tween daughter hates swimming on her period. Tampons were a failed experiment and she refuses to try again. I see there are various period panties/swim bottoms. Anyone have suggestions? She loves swimming, so I hate to see her miss out.

    Menstrual sponges are an alternative, but they may gross her out as you have to rinse them and reuse them.

    First off, make sure she understands her anatomy and the difference between a urethra and a vagina. Then maybe try a cup. Here is one brand.


Archived Q&A and Reviews



Teen rarely menstruating...for years now

July 2011

My daughter had her first period at age fourteen and a half, then nothing for about 5-6 months. She is now nearly eighteen and a half and has had only about five or six periods in her life. Last year a gynecologist put her on the pill (low dose) and her period started but she only stayed on it for a couple months because the side-effect of dramatically increased and constant hunger, constant eating and weight gain was unacceptable to her. Her blood tests don't show any abnormal hormone levels and she doesn't have a single one of the typical reasons for amenorrhea. Her weight is normal, she has a healthy relationship with food - no eating disorder - and a very healthy body self-image. She doesn't exercise excessively - in fact not nearly enough at the moment. I know stress (academic) could be a factor but even during fun, lazy, laid back summers she still didn't menstruate.

We are stumped. We are going back to the doctor for another check, but I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience - no periods for no obvious reason. And what did you do? Although my daughter is rather pleased she doesn't have to deal with periods, I am worried as something must be causing this. She is enthusiastically looking forward to having children and being a mom when the time comes, and I fear that getting pregnant may be a real challenge for her. Anon

You say your daughter doesn't show any abnormal hormone levels, but there can often be a thyroid problem that doesn't register according to the typical TSH test, which has a ''normal range'' that many endocrinologists consider ''too high/broad.'' For example, it could indicate that your daughter is ''normal'' if her TSH is 4, but my doctor would consider that hypothyroid for sure. There are also other tests for thyroiditis that should be given but usually are not by GPs or even internists. They include Free T3, Free T4, and especially, two thyroid antibodies tests, anti-microsomal and anti-TPO. I would take her to an endocrinologist specifically but not even all endos are well informed about the TSH range indicating normal when there is in fact a problem. My doctor's practice: Dr. Eric Buxton and Dr. Nathan Becker. Across the street from UCSF Med Center, at 350 Parnassus in SF. You would also be asking them to test for PCOS, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is highly associated with hypothyroidism and can result in irregular periods or scanty ones or even skipping them altogether. I didn't get a diagnosis until age 41 but my doctor agrees that both were my problems from at least age 14. Thyroiditis can be triggered by puberty and it is possible this could be your daughter's problem as well. If so, other symptoms can arise later on, so best to find out while this is her only problem. Good luck. Sympathetic

I recently learned about PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and it came to mind when you described your teen daughter's infrequent menstrual periods. This web site gives a basic rundown: http://women.webmd.com/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-symptoms It might be worth a glance, if only to rule it out... berkeley mom

As a teen I rarely had my period, and even into my 20s and 30s it was infrequent--between every 45 and 60 days. i went through two separate almost year-long stretches without getting my period at all. I am thin, but my doctors could find nothing wrong. When I wanted to get pregnant I went on Clomid and both times got pregnant the first month. Now that I'm in my late 40s I have my period every 3 weeks! I miss the old days. anon

18-year-old's bad PMS with depression

May 2009

My 18 year old has bad PMS with depression at that time of month. I want to find a health care provider or alternative medicine provider who will thoughtfully address this issue. I am concerned about her being put on a ongoing anti-depressant, for I think this is unnecessary. I am looking for someone who will really listen to her and provide low tech suggestions. Thanks, Helen

The quickest, healthiest way to deal with low grade depression is aerobic exercise. During moderate level exercise, the brain increases it's production of dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, which are powerful natural stimulants. In as little as 20 minutes of exercise, your daughter will begin to feel more energetic. After 40 minutes of exercise, her mood will be much sunnier. How about doing this activity as a team? Over time, it might turn into a deep bounding experience for the both of you. Helene

There are lots of ways to deal with this besides medication. However a qualified professional should really evaluate if this is the best step. If medication is the route taken, generally people have to take it regularly and taking a pill every day is not always that easy to do or remember. Also all medications tend to have some side effects. Dr. Peter Barglow is a top professional psychiatrist who has done a lot of work with adolescent women. He is in Berkeley and you can see if your insurance would cover it. Exercise can be a wonderful counter measure, also making sure your daughter is getting enough sleep, nutrition is important in easing women thru monthlies. Iron deficiencies, vitamin B, sunshine, check these things out. We all spend way to much time indoors sitting. sending best wishes

7th-grader's messy period hygiene

April 2009

I wonder if anyone can help out. Single mom, DD is in 7th grade, started her period last year (she never told me). I was always completely open about my own, we discussed it a bit I think before hers started. So here's the situation.

For the 3rd time now, I have found a mess of bloodied panties ''hidden away''. I talked to her about it the first time, and assumed she was just uber embarrased since her period was such a new thing, and assumed it woulnd't happen again. Thing is, I completely don't understand why she's doing this! We have pads, she knows how to use them, and how to wrap TP around and dispose... Why not use them? Has anyone ever experienced *anything* like this? What did you do? What was it based on?

I'm at a loss (and a little grossed out as well), feel like I've failed in some big way as a mom! Any advice? How would you approach it with her? Bewildered

HI--I don't know if this is your daughter's issue but for the first few years of her period my daughter found it ''gross'' to wash out stains from accidents incurred by her period--and there were many, especially with pads. I realized she didn't know what to do with them otherwise so she stashed them somewhere. She was 10 and overwhelmed by the whole business. So you might consider talking to her about how to handle the evidence of accidents. Been there

Dear Bewildered, I can relate. My daughter is now almost 18 and has had her period for almost 4 years now. She STILL can't seem to bring supplies with her to school or wear them when she has her period. We seem to always have stuff hanging in the bathroom that has been rinsed out! I think it's a matter of growing up and taking responsibility for herself. I've also been open about periods, bodies, etc. but I think they are more private at these young ages. It may take your daughter some more time to feel comfortable talking about it with you. BUT that doesn't mean you should stop talking about it!!! I think our words sink in eventually. I recommend asking her to rinse out her things in a bucket of cold water or let them soak in the bathtub for a few hours soaked in SHOUT (a miracle product!!), that she also needs to then throw them into the washing machine or hand wash them herself. This is part of becoming a woman. Just keep talking about how she now needs to take care of herself and her clothes (panties are not disposible). You can maybe model this and hang YOUR panties out too! You know, to create the environment where it's okay to to do this. You will always supply pads (or tampons, at some point) and teach her how to get rid of blood stains (cold water, shout or whatever other product you like). Also, that she can't leave these bloody piles around! If you can also supply a little purse she can carry pads in her school bag she might feel less weird about it when she gets her period in school. The nurse's office also should have extra pads. Show her how to use two pads at night so she doesn't bleed on the sheets or get her those longer ''nighttime'' pads. (I'm tired too of the bloody sheets!!) I wouldn't focus so much on what she's doing now and why (you didn't do anything wrong!), but on educating her about what she needs to do. If you have the book, Our Bodies, Our Selves, you might leave it out in a strategic place and bookmark the part about menstruation. She might pick it up and start to think about it more. Sometimes information from another source (besides you) can make it's way in! It will be okay!! You are fine. And congratulations to your daughter, she's growing up!

PS, I wanted to have a big party when my daughter got her period with all my woman friends, she nixed it!! ;-) anon

I was in a similar situation with my daughter not wanting to talk about her new period. I too have found underwear. What you have to remember is that it is so overwhelming for some girls. They don't want it and it surprises them. Perhaps she thinks her period has ended and then she bleeds more. It is a lot to manage. I have tried to match my style of talking to her about it to her obvious need for privacy. So, for example, I might whisper, ''you know honey, I found your stained underwear. If this happens to you, please tell me right away so that we can wash them before your underwear are stained and ruined.'' I have also told my daughter to put underwear or sheets in the washer and just tell me that some things need to be washed, so she doesn't feel I am really looking at them. Most importantly, in my humble opinion, is to act matter of fact and understanding. If you show your DD that you are grossed out by something that is a result of a normal bodily function, she will embody these feelings which might be what she is struggling with. It is so hard for some girls when they first get their periods. Good luck. Been There

It might help to just remember that everyone is different. Your daughter is most likely like you in some ways and not like you in others. This is normal. It especially does not mean there is anything wrong with her or that you have not done your job as a mom.

However - the bond that joins you when she was conceived and born may never cease so there is more mothering to do.

I would suggest to get a hold of your feelings, and accept her initial denial. It is a difference between knowing this is going to happen and experiencing it.

Put pads and other sanitary supplies where she can find them without asking for them. Maybe see if you can respond to this new stage in her life with some quiet celebration. ''You are a woman now'' used to work in my day. Getting this conversation on a positive note will open the door to other conversations. She may have emotional and physical distress. She may need a change in nutrition as well.

Maybe some empathy - change is hard to accept for most of us, even if it is easy for you.

Personally I have found some of these conversations easier than others. There is never one conversation. There is so much for young women to contend with in terms of attention to their self esteem, maturing bodies, sexuality and maintaining physical and mental health.

If the situation continues to remain stuck seek professional family counseling - maybe a woman therapist, and focus on improved communication rather than her period. Her period hopefully will not go away but how you mutually talk about it should help the process.

Also are you talking about this on the phone to your friends, in public in front of her or within earshot? If so stop it. My family did this to me and it only depended the embarrassment. If she is in denial your need to deal with it , but with some courtesy and you will have a more positive outcome. another Mom

I don't think you're a mom failure, as you're clearly trying to think well about your daughter!

In seventh grade, I did the same thing your daughter is doing, and I can tell you that I was horrified about puberty starting for me--did not want my period, did not want breasts, any of it. I didn't want to be a boy; I just didn't want my body to change. Hiding all evidence (which I did for two years, I think) was a way for me to stay in denial. The pressure I felt to celebrate my period, to want to wear a bra, completely grossed me out. This might be happening for your girl--you could let her know that sometimes people feel like this and that it's okay.

FYI--now I'm 39, fine with my body, eventually accepted puberty happening--still not, for instance, into fancy bras or anything, but for a woman in this society pretty okay body-image wise. Hang in there and try not to worry too much. I was that girl

Having gone through the same kinds of periods as a teen that your daughter is going through, I completely understand. The teachers' behaviors are outrageous. Since it sounds like this is coming from more than one teacher, I would go directly to the principal about it.

But it's perhaps more important for your daughter to get help with the symptoms. It's very hard to function when you're sick two days a month.

I took birth control pills starting my senior year in high school, even though I did not need them for birth control. It made a world of difference. I tried going off them and the symptoms returned, so I kept on them until I decided to have children. That was many, many years ago. I've had no resulting medical problems, and the pill is a whole lot safer now than it was in those days. Also, anti-prostaglandins such as prescription-size doses of ibuprofin may help (those were not available back then).

Do your daughter a favor - take her to a gynecologist and talk about treatment for those symptoms. She does not have to live with them. Anonymous

Frustrated Mom ... you have not failed. Try to remember what it was like when you first started your period, especially if it was before your friends. Perhaps anxious, nervous, embarrassed, grossed out.

My daughter started hers at least a year before many of her friends. Here's what we did ... First, we had a candid talk about using pads and changing them often so she doesn't start to smell. We always kept an emergency baggie in her backpack supplied with 2 or 3 pads and extra panties. When my daughter started her period, I make up a soaking bucket on top of the washing machine. I take a couple of tablespoons of laundry detergent and some Cloxox 2 and make a soaking mixture. Then the panties have had time to soak when I get around to do laundry. I also ask her to rinse her panties in the shower in the morning, since soiling usually takes place at night when she sleeps. I also bought several sizes of pads. Thicker, longer ones for nights and heavier days. Thinner, full size pads with wings for days, etc. I also showed her how to roll her pads and wrap them up in the wrapper that comes with the new pads. Show her anything you can think of that you probably take for granted. Your goal is to empower her, make her feel more in control.

Finally, at her annual doctor's exam, I asked the doctor if she could wear tampons if she was a virgin. Yes, most girls can but it might take some trial and error. I think American Girls has a ''body'' book that specifically guides young girls about how to insert a tampon. I stayed out of this one. I bought the smallest O.B. tampons they make for starting out and left them in her bathroom. I suggested she try tampons after about a year after her period started. I could tell she was getting tired of the ''mess'' involved with pads. After some time, she was successful and it really made the monthly cycle much better. She's moved on to larger tampons and only has bleed through at night when she sleeps.

She is much happier now. I think it also became easier when her girlfriends started their periods and talked about it. It gets better ... I promise!

Ihave had a similar experience with my 13-year-old. I found a half-used tampon hidden in our bathroom and when I asked my girl if her period had started, she swore up and down that it must have been a friend's! I was worried this was abnormal and meant she was rejecting her femininity. When I asked her psychologist about this, she replied that some girls do conceal their periods in the beginning and it was common for girls to be messy about their hygiene. My girl, now 14 1/2, has left used pads on the floor of her bedroom (totally grossed out my husband), not used pads at all so her clothes were stained, just thrown away messy panties, and left used pads in underwear she puts in the laundry, which I wash. Explaining nicely how to handle used ones hasn't accomplished anything. I'm somewhat grossed out too. I've mentioned that to her casually, but I don't want to stress it because of the negative message it gives her. All I can figure out is to continue being matter-of-fact about her hygiene, hoping that it eventually will sink in. Flummoxed too

Hi - She may very well be using pads or tampons and still have underwear issues - my daughter ends up with dirty underwear all the time b/c i think it's often hard to find a clean bathroom at school or she just forgets when it's time to change her tampon. It's also quite natural for kids to become private at this age. We're the most open house in the world and even so my daughter became much more private at about this time. In any case, however she chooses to handle it is her choice - and she'll deal with the consequences even if it gets to the point of stink in her room. I'm sure the fear of bleeding through her clothes will get her to handle it gracefully at some point. I wouldn't worry. anon

13 year old daughter gets bad menstrual cramps and headaches

August 2008

My 13 year old daughter gets bad menstrual cramps and headaches. I never had bad cramps but I have had roommates who had them so I sympathize. I have recommended all of the tricks I know - Advil, Raspberry Leaf Tea, Pelvic exercises, hot pads. Are there any other tips that the community has found that works with teens and their cramps? She has a lot of anxiety about the pain which makes it worse so I am trying to help her relax and meditate. I know there are many tips but I need something that works for a teen. Momma

I had horrible cramps when I was a teen. I remember throwing up at school, they were so bad, and also laying with a heating pad wishing I were dead. At 18 our doctor put me on the pill and that was a life saver. It did not make me feel like I could go out and have sex. What I discovered as I got older, and also give to my daughter, is Ibuprofen. But you MUST use it right when you begin to feel the slightest twinge, or if she is expecting cramps, say the next day, I would have her take it that night. It is the only 'over the counter' I have found that works. Hugs to her. Cramps are the worst!!! anon

Please talk to your daughter's doctor about going on the pill or taking something stronger for the pain. There is no reason for your daughter to suffer so much that she has anxiety about pain.

My daughter had horrible cramps when she started menstruating at 13. She would lie in a ball for up to 6 hours moaning, she would vomit, she'd miss school. She's now 19 and it has improved with age, although sometimes she has a throwback day. Her doc said definitely Aleve over all those others, between 2-4 tablets with crackers or toast. I told her to keep it to 2 but she recently confessed that she always did 4. She had to catch it at the very first sign or it didn't work, which means if the onset was during sleep she was out of luck. She kept crackers and Aleve by her bed. The Aleve worked to keep it down to normal cramps. She had tried tylenol, ibuprofen, & others but only Aleve worked. A bath as hot as she could stand it also helped, sometimes she did two a few hours apart. Those disposable abdominal heating pads you can buy at Longs help her & last 6-8 hours, allowing her to go to class if the cramps are closer to normal. She still always has SOME cramps and uses those all the time. Is at college now and still has Aleve by the bed. - hope this helps

Mugwort, an herb that grows wild in the Berk hills, can be purchased at Lhasa Kharnak Herb Store in Berk -- on Telegraph and Shattuck. Soak (brew) a tablespoon in hot water, by pouring boiling water over the leaves. The longer you soak, the stronger the tea. It's strong tasting, very medicinal -- but two cups a month, any time during the cycle -- but before the actual bleeding will probably take care of the cramping. Its discovery was a goddess-send (!) for me in my bleeding years, and now that they're over, I wish every girl would discover this simple, natural remedy -- that is preventive and meant to treat the monthly rythmn flow rather than any particular incidence of cramps. Carolyn

The Pill to stabilize 13-year-old's periods & moods?

Jan 2008

I'm another parent dealing with yet another highly- charged, emotionally over-wrought 13 year old girl, who gets extremely angry, sad and derisive. Some of it has genuine causes (best friend moved to a foreign country, high school application stress) but a lot just feels hormonal. She also has very painful, irregular periods, which have been this way for over a year. This is no small thing, as she has gotten to the point of grabbing the steering wheel while I was driving and, on another occasion, getting physical with me. I am exploring therapy, but, I'm wondering what people think, and if anyone with a difficult and distraught daughter with her type of menstration experience ever tried birth-control pills. I remember girls trying this when I was a teen, but I've heard there are more concerns around BC pills these days and wonder what the thoughts are about them. My daughter's pediatrician suggested we try it, but I'm apprehensive. Anyone who can shed light on this dilemma would be much appreciated. Anon

My sister uses the pill for the reasons you describe - but didn't start until college.

From what you describe - whatever the reason, your daughter's behavior are far outside of the lines of ''reasonable'' moodiness. Grabbing the steering wheel is DANGEROUS and the pill won't fix that. Please get a therapist involved. It sounds like you can both use the support and intervention.

I think 13 is too young to be responsible for a daily pill and hormones - whether they are the culprit or not - are powerful and you're adding more to her system. get clear on boundaries.

Dear Anon, hang in there. Absolutely get a team that you trust together, like a therapist and or an md. I have heard and have watched teens do better on a birth control pill. Some parents will tell you it's just hormones and it will pass. It probably will but in the meantime it sounds like your daughter is hurting. Listen to her and let her know you will help her feel better, I think sometimes the fact that you are willing to let them try something makes them understand that you are really there. The pill takes away that ridiculous waiting for the period, and can help even things out. They aren't perfect and sometimes the side effects can cause turmoil but...you will be doing something. I don't think you can go wrong with therapy, just interview and get one you really feel on the same page with, one that will talk to YOU. Therapy can also bring out more intense issues, so be prepared, it may not, but it could. Then know that you have more support than you know, even silently. It is really hard and you worry, so many moms and dads are going through the same thing or something like it. I am sure you have a beautiful, smart daughter, hold on and have faith. another teen mom

I'm a mom of 3 girls. My first two went on birth control pills (bcp) at about 14/15. The first for very painful periods, the second for the same and she was more labile/moody. I've never regretted my decision. They're now 21 and 19, still on bcp. It definitely helped them w/ pain, school attendance, taking less over the counter pain meds, no worry about their side effects. Also helped to stabilize the mood of the 2nd daughter. It didn't make them have sex early-some people worry about that. The older girl uses the patch as she had issues w/ nausea. The 2nd has always used the pill. Again, I never saw negative effects, they also liked the fact that they could control when their period came (not more than a couple of days one way or the other), like if there was going to be a dance at school or weekend skiing, etc. Hope this helps, you can contact me if you want. Oh, and therapy could definitely help...Good luck Jody

When I was in high school (I'm 49 now)I began taking birth control pills to control the terrible cramps I had from my period each month. I had often spent 1 to 1 1/2 days in bed and often had to come home from school. The birth control pills definitely reduced the cramps significantly.

I wasn't moody from my period, so I can't speak to that aspect. Also, today birth control pills generally use much lower dosages of hormones, so I don't know how that might affect things.

You may also want to consider whether or not being on birth control might make your daughter more prone to becoming sexually active at a younger age than you might hope for her. anon

Hasn't started her period yet

Nov 2006

Puberty is always mentioned as to be between 11-13. My daughter is 14-1/2 and has still not started her period. I'm trying not to be too concerned about it. I was told not to worry until she is 15. Any comments from other women out there! jk

Is your daughter athletic and/or very thin? I was both and my period didn't start until I was 17. No ongoing problems related to starting late, though Late Bloomer

Well, my girl didn't get her period until she was precisely 14 1/2, and I was over 15 when mine arrived. (My mother and sister started late as well. We're all tall, small-boned WASPs; there is a theory that taller females start later.) My daughter was relieved when she finally started, but now she complains about PMS and cramps and what she refers to as ''dumb design.''

I don't know how concerned your daughter is, but I don't think you need to worry about it. (For what it's worth, EARLY menarche is thought to be one of the various risk factors in breast cancer.) If she is genuinely worried, think about taking her to your gynecologist for a talk. I did this because I was tired of hearing my daughter complain about not having a period. Our doctor gave her a brief exam and said, ''You'll have it in 6 to 9 months,'' and she was correct. Melanie

My daughter started her period at 13.5 (I think that's about when I started mine). Then it was so irregular for 1 year, which is what I was worried about, until an accupuncturist I took her to said her body was just gearing up because she wasn't ovulating yet. I think you don't have to worry about it even until 16. We are all different. I think the older they get though, and when more of their friends start and they don't have it, they start to worry. Just help her to stay calm about it, and keep her healthy. Look, she will have it for 30+ years!! anon

I am not in a position to diagnose your daughter's condition, but I can share my own experience. I too was a late starter and was ultimately diagnosed with polycystic ovaries (PCO) at age 18 at my first OB/gyn appointment. I started my period around 14 1/2 but had an irregular cycle and eventually (by age 18 or 19)heavy breakthrough bleeding. Discuss your concerns with her doctor to find out what's going on. If it is PCO, it's easy to diagnose, fairly common and totally manageable. Now, my cycles are normal, run like clock-work, and I was able to have normal healthy pregnancies/deliveries. Good luck with your daughter. Been There Too

We're all tall, small-boned WASPs; there is a theory that taller females start later.) It's the other way around. When a young woman gets her period, estrogen is circulating and it is estrogen which causes ''closure of the growth points'' of the long bones. Thus, once estrogen starts circulating, growth of the bones is curtailed and eventually stops. Females who have a late onset of periods tend to grow taller than the ones who start their menses earlier. Robert

I think the range of ''normal'' is much wider than we think. For what it is worth, I did not start until I was almost 17. And even then, I was in my early twenties before things settled down, and I actually had a period every month. (I've been told that I probably wasn't really ovulating until then.) There was nothing particularly noteworthy about me then or now: not short, not tall, not fat, not thin, not terribly athletic, but not a sloth either. I have 3 sisters, and neither they nor my mother started so late. Who knows why I did? I had no other problems of any sort and went on to have 2 lovely chiildren, and a perfectly normal life...

My mother did take me to the doctor, because I was concerned about it. He said that everything was fine, and that he could cause me to have a period, but that there was no point to that, and it would come in due time. It did. I would take the youngster to the doctor, just to make sure that everything is all right, and to re-assure her. Assuming the news is good, you can stop worrying anonymous

My period didn't start until 3 months before I turned 15. I was totally worried, since all my friends already had started. My daughter didn't get her period until she was exactly the same age, but instead of being worried all that time, she was glad -- fewer hassles with sports, swimming, etc. For each of us, once it started, it was quite irregular, not settling down to a dependable cycle for a year or so. If your daughter is otherwise healthy, not super-skinny or overtraining in sports, it's probably normal, but if SHE'S worried, have her talk with her pediatrician Her Mom

My daughter is 15 y.o. and hasn't started her period. She has been concerned so her pediatrician has suggested she be referred to a pediatric endocrinologist. Before the referral, she wanted an x-ray taken of her wrist to check her bone age against her chronological age. It turns out that her bone age is 13.5 years. My daughter is very petite and slender; she looks much younger than 15. They call her condition constitutional delay. Essentially it means that her growth has not caught up to her real age. Both doctors are not concerned and feel that her period may start within the next 2 years. I think that this information has calmed the concerns of my daughter. relieved mom

16-year-old's extreme menstrual pain

May 2006

My daughter will be 16 in October. Every time she gets her period, she has extreme pain, not just the typical cramps. It starts a day or two before her period actually starts. She gets an ''upset stomach'', tummy ache, diarrehea etc. When her period starts she starts throwing up and has to take 800mg of motrin a couple times a day. It seem these problems have gotten worse over time. Now it's affecting her school. One morning I heard deathly screams coming from upstairs and rushed up to find her laying on the bathroom floor kicking her legs and pounding her fists (just like a three year old having a tantrum!). I wish there was something I could do to help her. Her periods started at the age of ten.

I mentioned this to my OB/GYN and she said to bring her in and she would probably put her on the pill. I don't want to do that at this early age. Are there any other tried and trusted remedies out there? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Sarah

I would take her to the gynecologist first but then try Chinese medicine specifially acupuncture and herbs. They can be quite effective in helping menstrual difficulties. likes chinese medicine

Whether or not you want to put your daughter on the pill, you should seriously think about having her evaluated by a gynecologist. I had terrible menstrual cramps from age 11 until my first pregnancy ended 3 months prematurely at 29. When I had trouble conceiving afterwards, laparoscopy showed extensive endometriosis, which, the doctor said, probably caused the painful menstrual cramps (and the cramping perhaps can then extend the amount of endometriosis, which is the lining of the uterus lodged and growing outside of the uterus). Birth control pills were one of the treatments for endometriosis at the time, as well as surgery. That was 20+ years ago, so who knows what more has been developed. If this is the problem, how it is treated now could affect her reproductive future, so it's worth having her problem evaluated. And for the symptoms--heat, diet, moderate exercise (the last thing you feel like doing)all helped. A sympathetic former sufferer

You might not want to hear this, but I would let your daughter go on the pill. I had similar experiences at her age, before the pill was safe and common, and was absolutely miserable 2-3 days out of every month. I remember being sick in school, public bathrooms, in dorm rooms, having to stay home from school and social events regularly. When I finally went on the pill, shortly before I became sexually active, my quality of life took a quantum leap. anonymous

I would rush your daughter to an accupuncturist. I've had really good luck with menstrual cycle stuff using chinese herbs. Find someone who really knows there herbs, that's the key. They don't always work like a pain suppsressant but work to change the ''cycle''. It may take a several months to completely turn it around. You could look on the BPN website for a referal or take her to a chinese doctor who I go to and who I've taken my daughter to for menstrual issues (not the same ones as your daughter's). Her name is Dr. Li, she's at 326 15th St in Oakland her number is 835-1428. Her english is not great and it's no new-age office, but she's a teacher and knows her stuff! I hope it works out, it sounds awful. anon

Maxi pads for young girls/petite women

May 2006

My 10-1/2 year old daughter just started her period (!!) and the pads I had on hand for this occasion (thinking it would be somewhat farther in the future) are too wide for her. Pantyliners are about the right width, but not absorbent enough. I've checked the archives, but there are no recommendations specifically for young girls or petite women who may face the same problem. Any suggestions?

You might want to try Always brand Ultra Thin Slender Petites. They are in the pink packages and can be found at drugstores and Target. I bought these for my daughter who started her period when she was 11. They are narrower than other Always pads, although not by much, but are less bulky than other brands. Good luck

Hi, I am very petite myself and when I started my periods, I believe I used Always brand pads. However, I hated the bulkiness of even the most thinnest one so I switched to OB tampons. The other kinds were not a good fit either. I know there is an ick factor with not having an applicator with the OBs but they work the best for slender people. petite myself

There are ''slim'' or ''slender'' pads available at most drugstores and grocery stores. That's what my daughters use. anon

''Always'' brand makes a ''slender'' size (ultra-thin, but quite absorbent). The pads are wrapped in pink, and available at a good price (often on sale) at Target. My daughter (also started at 10 1/2) used them for quite a while, and I find I like to use them, too (though not on extra-heavy days).

Menstrual Migraine Headaches in a 10 year old

Jan 2006

My 10 year daughter started her menstrual cycles a few months ago. She is starting to get severe migraine-like headaches right at menses every month. They come on suddenly and she is very light sensitive. Her father gets migraines too. I have been doing research on treatments on the Web. Please write if you have these headaches and have any suggestions for my daughter to try. I thought we could try giving her ibuprofen around the time she may get these. Do other headache medications help, homeopathy, herbal remedies? Thanks! Jeanne

I started getting menstrual migraines before I even began menstruating, around 8 years old and they continued until I had a hysterectomy (not the recommended solution). When I was a child the key was keeping me calm, it was so painful that I would begin crying, this would worsen the pain.

As an adult I have tried all the migraine medications and find that they cause too many side-effects. I have had the best luck with Ibuprofen, but I was lucky in the sense I did not have severe nausea with my headaches, if your child has nausea the Ibuprofen may be to harsh for her stomach. There is a migraine center in San Francisco, you may want to check out.

Here's my formula to combating migraines: 1. Take Ibuprofen; 2. Drink a little caffeinated tea or coffee (my coffee addiction began at a young age), no sugar; 3. Take a warm shower, let the water flow over neck and head; 3. Lay down in a dark room, with a cool cloth covering forehead and eyes. I usually go into a little shock when I have migraine, so for me I need to be kept warm (except for wash cloth on head). When I was kid I really needed one of my parents to sit with me, gently massaging my head, this helped me calm down.

The hard thing for me as a child, was that I could feel my migraines coming on and I knew I basically needed to go into a self-imposed isolation, leaving my friends or a fun activity, but the times I didn't I suffered even more.

I had no luck with acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs, etc (not to say that you won't), but I did have luck in preventative medicine. Here's what I avoided the week before my menses, chocolate, strawberries, (go on-line to see some typical migraine triggers) and go figure roller-skating. haraden

I am now post menopause, but I used to get migraines with every period, and I believe this is very common. I tried everything, but ibuprofen was the only thing that helped, and the relief was swift. I found that after a fairly short time, I needed at least 800 milligrams for the drug to be effective, but I started with 400 and that worked for a time. Hope this helps. anonymous

I get those headaches also. My GYN said it's hormonal. They come on right before I get my period and end with the begining of blood flow. Maybe 24 hours total. I am 43 and didn't have them before the last two years, though I don't remember if I had them as a teenager, I got my period when I was 13. I try not to take the ibuprophen because it's not great for your liver on a regular basis (though I don't know what it can do if you took one pill once a month). I use lavender oil. I rub it on my temples and under my nose so I can breathe it in. It seems to lighten the headache. You might try asking a homoepath for a rememdy for your girl. I'll bet once she's had her period for several years and it's regular the headaches will go away. But for now try lavender! good luck. anon

I don't have much to offer here, but the headaches probably aren't just ''like'' migraines, they probably are migraines. A friend of mine got migraines when she started birth control pills, and found that migraines were listed as possible side effects, so they definitely can be hormone related. I hope that other readers can offer treatment advice. Carrie

I get migraines, and I'm not sure what age is appropriate to start prescription medication for headaches, but if 10 is not too young, I had great success with Imitrex (sp?) or for OTC stuff, I liked Excedrin Migraine. I also don't know your values regarding caffeine, but that was really the only thing that I could do (non medicine) to ward off a huge migraine attack. That and a dark room with a cold washcloth on my eyes. Poor girl, I know how she feels. Ouch

I got migraines starting in my early teens but was not diagnosed until my late 20's. I just thought I got ''sick'' (headache, nausea, light and sound sensitivity). So congratulations on diagnosing the problem so early. Excedrin makes an OTC medicine called ''Excedrin Migraine'' (I think that is the name) that contains acetominephen, aspirin and caffeine. I have found that to be effective, esp. if you can catch it early. BTW, Tylenol markets a product as a migraine medicine, but it is exactly the same as the regular stuff so don't be misled. Good Luck! --former migraine suffer

I suffered from migranes in high school and in college. While in college, I was fortunate to work at an acupuncture school, Yo- San University, in Santa Monica, CA. While at work, a migrane struck. I tried to hold out, but it got worse and worse, so I finally told the staff. One of the doctors/professors, Dr. Lu- Biao, massaged the migrane away by massaging the large muscle along the back of my neck with upward strokes on the side that the migrane occured (I was experiencing the stabbing pain that occurs behind the eye on my left side). He continually stroked the muscle in my neck with both thumbs from the top of my shoulder to the bottom of my skull. It was uncomfortable, but it didn't hurt. He warned me beforehand that the massage pressure would have to be hard and that I might bruise. In about 5 minutes, I felt the pain literally move from behind my eye to the top of my head, then it dissappeared. I experienced a little muscular soreness for about a half hour afterward, but did not bruise. Dr. Lu-Biao studied at a hospital in Beiging, and he is one of the best acupuncturists I've ever been to. He told me that I could teach someone to do this to me. I stopped having dibilitating migranes and rarely get headaches nowadays, so I haven't had the occasion to use the technique. You may want to consult with an very experienced acupuncturist to teach you the technique. If you like, please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss the technique. She's so young, and I would take her to an acupuncturist who is experienced in Tui- na massage and acupuncture who works with children. This experience made me trust traditional Chinese medicine with all my heart, and I sincerely believe that this could be a drug-free answer for your family. Christina

I started getting migraines in college and tried various medications to manage them including 800 mg. ibuprofen 4x/day. Finally when I was pregnant and the migraines were really out of control I tried acupuncture which saved my life! I highly recommend Dennis von Elgg in Berkeley. Good luck! Caroline

I used to get nasty sinus-migraine-like headaches the day before and the day that my menses started. I finally asked my health practitioner if there was anything that could be done. She suggested that they were due to an 'estrogen drop' and increasing estrogen might help. I've found that eating a diet rich in naturally occuring phytoestrogens (spinach, soybean/tofu, sprouts, cabbage, beans) really helps me to keep the headaches at bay. Relieved

I've had menstrual migraines since early adolescence and finally found Imitrex about ten years ago. It's the only medication that's helped me. When I was about 13, I was put on phenobarbitol, a very bad idea as it's addictive (luckily I didn't take it for long.) Kaiser prescribed some ineffective cheaper meds at first, but when I heard about Imitrex from a friend I insisted on trying it and it's gotten rid of the migraine very quickly. Don't know if it's okay for children, but it's worth asking about. (There are several related drugs in the same family, so maybe one of them would work.) There are also drugs around now to prevent migraines. Migraines are truly awful, especially for kids. Your child is lucky that you are taking this seriously, as many adults seem to think kids' headaches ''can't be that bad.'' So relieved to be free of pain

Hi. I've had migraines all my life (since 3 years) and also have a family history of these. I've been on and off daily meds with varying degrees of success since age 11. In my experience, there are a few options for your daughter. If you'd like to go the medication route, there are medications that can be prescribed for migraines that arise on or around the time of menstruation. These are taken daily, but just in this sensitive period. You can talk with an neurologist about this (I'd go to a neurologist rather than her pediatrician, as migraine management can be pretty complex and you want to ensure the physician knows what s/he is doing).

If you prefer to try to avoid medications, a great book to read is Heal Your Headache, the 1-2-3 Step Approach to... (or something like that - I can't remember the author). It talks in depth about migraine triggers including those we have no control over (menstruation, baromentric pressure, etc.), some control over (sleep patterns, stress), and lots of control over (foods). It also talks about how triggers are cumulative, so that a food that does not trigger a migraine one day might trigger one another day. The food list is far more extensive than any I have seen anywhere else, and the explanation of how foods contribute to migraines is far more clear. I found it very useful, have adopted the diet approach, and have better resolution of my migraines than ever before (I still get them, but not quite as badly and not as regularly - used to be almost daily). It may be that if your daughter just avoids trigger foods around the time of menstruation, she will be less likely to experience a migraine. Different people have different sensitivities, but it is well worth a try. Hope this is helpful, and good luck. lj

Please keep the advice about menstrual headaches coming!

A couple of things that work for me: -- eat lots of anti-oxidants when the headache is begining to come on... especially red beets, blueberries, sweet potato, etc..

-- eat omega-rich seafood like salmon at the begining of the headache

-- enough water -- but not too much water

-- try to make sure that bowel movements are regular leading up to and through menstruation

-- High doses of motrin or motrin combined with tylenol works in extreme cases

-- And... the miracle cure: peppermint oil rubbed on the shoulders, neck and a little bit on the temples can make the headache melt away in minutes

Good Luck! Headache Sufferer Since My 30s

Swimming classes during periods - she doesn't use tampons

July 2003

Can someone please advise whether it is in order for my 11- year old to go for her swimming classes during her periods. She does not use tampons. The swimming teacher said that it is okay, but I am not so sure. Thanks for the information. Indu

I think that it is absolutely not okay for your child to swim during her period using napkins. With a tampox, all blood products are kept inside the body; the use of a sanitary napkin would allow all blood product to contaminate the pool water.

I am surprised that anyone would advise you to the contrary.

Might now be a good time to help your daughter to learn to use a tampon??

Adamant about hygiene

Physician Mother

Books about Menstruation

My 11-year-old daughter just started menstruating. I am interested in good books to help her see a positive side to this and to help her deal with the fear of how to handle dealing with it a school - restrooms, P.E. classes, etc. She did pretty well over the weekend, after the initial shock, but was really scared about how to deal with it at school. I printed some info from the Internet, put out by one of the feminine protection companies, but it was obviously written on an adult level so I could guide her. I would like to find things that would be written at her level so she can realize her peers will all be experiencing the same thing and how they have handled the same problems. Thanks. Barbara

We have a wonderful book by Jean Marzollo entitled Getting Your Period, published by Dial Books for Young Readers. Aside from a thorough and plain language description of anatomy and physiology there is a terrific sections of how to handle the kinds of problems that young adolescents worry about: What to do if your period starts at school and you bleed onto your white pants. Pamela

Some great books for girls who have started menstruating can be found at Gaia bookstore on Shattuck. I don't remember the names, but they have several that are written to the girl rather than to the parent.


My daughter's pediatrician recommended a wonderful book when my daughter was about 10. I got it then and now at age 12 she reads it. It's well written with kids in mind. It's called Look What's Happening to My Body -- for Girls. Don't remember the author. There's one of the same title for boys. It covers many areas of inquiry for this age person. Very useful and user-friendly. Linnea

Talking to your daughter about menstruation


I wanted to start a discussion about how to talk to your daughter about getting her period. I have 13 & 16 year old daughters and I was recently thinking about how upset they both were on the day they started their periods which was when they were each around 11 & 1/2. I thought I had prepared them, but it was clear that I hadn't given them enough support or information. I had told them several times prior to the event that they would get their period, explained to them why it happens, and described the experience as best I could. My older daughter pointed out to me that it's different when girls start early (10-12) than late. Perhaps there was no way around their disappointment, it's a major life change. In every other circumstance where we bleed, it's becasue we've been hurt and it's difficult to then turn that around to be something positive, or at least, not a bad thing. What do other parents think? What was the experience like for those girls who have already started?

Menstruation - I had prepared my daughter as much as possible for her period but it still was a shock for her when it happened. The thing that seemed to make it more acceptable for her was that I reminded her that now she belongs to the sisterhood of women. I pointed out a few of her teachers and women friends she admires and movie stars she likes and other role models and told her that all of us experience this miracle in preparation for motherhood. I also reminded her that, if she was caught without supplies or got scared, any female teacher at school, or any woman whever she is, would know how to help her. She began to feel proud not to be a child anymore and to be a member of this very elite group. My fear was that she would not take care of the hygienic part of the deal but she has done beautifully.

Here is some great advice that of one my village members shared with me........ I have two daughters, 22 and 18. When they started their periods at 13 and 11-1/2, respectively, their attitude was very matter-of-fact. At first, they were hesitant to talk about their period around their father. They both look at it as there's nothing they can do about it so why stress over it. When they were growing up I never hid my period from them and I answered their questions as appropriate for their age. As they approached puberty, I started to talk more about their periods coming soon and told them to go to a female teacher if they started at school. I bought them supplies and put them in their bathroom. I tried to talk about having our period as a positive rather than a negative. As my daughters were growing up, I tried to instill in them a sense of pride about being a woman.

My 12yr. old daughter just started her period for the first time last month. I have always talked about it with her, emphasizing it is a normal part of a girl's development into becoming a woman, and it is what makes us special because without menstruation, we could not bring babies into existance. Make it a positive point in her life, a time to celebrate being a girl becoming a woman. Give her something special, like something from your mother perhaps, or take her out for dinner or ice cream, whatever you know she will think is special. Yes, I know having a period is a pain in the long run, but when you have your baby (after the pain of that is over) you know how special it is to be a woman.

My daughter was far from overjoyed when her period started, but she knew exactly what to expect and did not freak out, and was actually kind of happy with the special attention it brought.

However, other things that go with the period, like developing hormones and mood swings are a trickier. My daughter, who has been good natured, gentle and NEVER trouble at school just got in trouble for for punching a boy who was harrassing her in class. I can see the changes in her, sometimes from one second to the next, and this is also creating other issues at home for her bewildered little brother. I can also see why the Parents of Teens list has been established!

1998 From: Trish
This was run early on in the life of the Parents digest. I'm just returning it to you from my 'file of goodies.' -- Trish

Girls reaching puberty: it seems that everyone has a website these days. i opened a box of tampons today and THEY even have a website. i immediately went to the site thinking it would, at the very least, be humorous. actually, it has information for parents and teachers on how to discuss puberty and the issues of menstruating. it even has a section called when dads have to be moms and there is a teen talk location. so, in consideration of some the parent's recently asking for advice on this subject, i thought i would provide the website address.

http://www.tampax.com and http://www.troom.com (this is the teen room)

Similar to the message from Trish, this website: http://www.cyclesofwellness.com/ from the manufacturers of Stayfree, Carefree and OB has information for parents and teachers. I know that about 10 years ago Stayfree, et al., also had a starter kit that they would mail out with samples of their different products and information for the young woman. The booklet was written as though 3 different girls were sending eachother letters about their experiences and addressed a lot of different concerns and misconceptions. I think we found the mailaway coupon inside a regular package of pads, I havent' looked in a package recently to see if they still have this offer.