*Author’s Note: This article contains graphic/frank talk about menstrual cycles, flows, etc. If that is not your thing or you are squeamish, this is your chance to stop scrolling and click away.*
In our house, my husband and I are pretty candid about my period. He sometimes knows when I am about to start before I even realize it. He knows that the first few days are heavy and miserable for me so I will often find a bottle of menstrual relief bubble bath waiting for me without even asking for it. He has gone to the store solo for tampons, Midol, and one time he had to rescue me at like 3 am when I was crying in the bathroom because I could not get my Menstrual Cup to seal and had no backup tampons and was so frustrated while bleeding through my clothes and just wanted to go back to sleep.
My period has never been dirty or something that I felt needed to be a “behind closed doors topic” so if we are talking about something related to my period, we do so openly in front of our kids. Obviously, we save the period talk for just us, you don’t have to worry about that being a topic at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Now as our kids are starting to get older, they ask more questions when the topic is brought up. We have explained to our son that these are things that he will have to be aware of and sensitive to with the girls around him as he gets older. This means helping girls out if they are in a bind and not making it worse by pointing stains out or bringing them to the attention of others.
And to our seven-year-old daughter, we have told her these are things that she will one day experience and that we want her to feel comfortable coming to both mom and dad for help. But up until now we hadn’t sat either of them down and explained anything to them in any sort of detail….
The other day while we were driving to the store my daughter said “Mom can you tell me what exactly a period is?”
For a split second, I panicked. I didn’t know how much to say or talk about. What is age appropriate?
I took a deep breath and told her that it is not a fun topic but an important one, so if she was truly curious I would explain, but gave her a chance to back out if she didn’t really want to know the details right that second. She thought about it and said, “I want to know.”
I explained how girls had eggs inside them and that each month when they reach puberty their bodies get those eggs ready to possibly make a baby. Just like when mommy had her and her brother in my belly. I explained that meant making the insides where the baby stays called the uterus a comfy place for a baby to live in the mommy’s belly. But if that girl does not make a baby (here is where I thought a more in-depth Sex talk might happen, but I was going to wait for her to ask the questions, and she didn’t ask them) that the body has to get rid of all that extra cushion, which is why once every month girls have a period; it is all the cushion coming out because we do not need it. She then asked what the “cushion” looks like and I told her it just looks like a lot of blood (she was shocked and didn’t like that idea very much). I asked if she had any other questions, and she just asked if she still had a while until she had to worry about it.
To which I explained, we don’t really know exactly when it might happen, everybody is different. I was a pretty late bloomer, so she may be like me and not have to worry about it for a long time. At that, I could see she relaxed a little and moved on to a new topic.
I’m curious how others initiate these body conversations. Do you have a specific time and age or do you wait for them to start the conversation? Are you more like us where you try to talk openly with your spouse in age-appropriate ways so that they feel comfortable with mom and dad?
I’m sure my mom and I had some sort of period talk at some point, but my brain has blocked that out. I specifically remember the health class where we talked about these things, and it was super uncomfortable because I could tell some classmates were much further along than me so I didn’t want to ask too many questions and out myself as a novice. I want my kids to feel comfortable coming to us with the hard/uncomfortable questions and not feel like they need to get info from school or their classmates.