So should you pack the sanitary supplies in her camp trunk? If your daughter has experienced breast development for at least two years, then yes, packing pads or tampons is a good idea. It’s also another great opportunity for sex education — letting your daughter know just what to expect when her period begins.

Let her know that periods are usually completely painless (no cramps) for the first year or longer, and that she should expect light or moderate bleeding for three to seven days in general. Ask her whether she prefers to use a sanitary pad or a tampon for her period, and show her how each method works. Your daughter may be interested in using tampons right away, especially if she is athletic, or wears tights, swimsuits or other close-fitting clothing.

Tampons are perfectly fine for girls to use from the first period, provided your daughter understands she should change the tampon at least three times daily, and should only use tampons that are clean and in undamaged wrappers. Toxic shock syndrome, an extremely rare but serious infection caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus, can occur with tampon use. However, millions of women have used billions of tampons over the past 50 years or more, without ill effects.

Once periods begin, they may or may not become regular and monthly right away. By two years after menarche, most girls have regular periods. Talk with your daughter’s pediatrician if her periods are quite irregular or unpredictable, if they routinely last longer than eight days, or are very heavy.

Girls often get a bit taller after menarche, but not much. A girl’s height is about 90 percent of her final height at the time she has her first period. The hormones that change her into a woman — estrogen and progesterone — also result in the completion of all bone growth. By age 14 or 15, or two years after menarche, almost all girls have reached their adult height. Teen-age girls usually gain about 10 to 15 pounds in the five years following the first period, mostly bone and muscle.

Your daughter can learn a lot from the expert in her own home who knows all about puberty and periods: her mother! Begin talking with her as soon as breast changes appear, at the latest.

Your daughter may have noticed changes occurring in other girls, and she will also pick up inaccurate information on the playground or the bus.

Browse your local bookstore or your public library for books on puberty and on sex education that you and your daughter can read together. Whatever book you choose, preview it yourself to be sure you are comfortable with the tone and the information.

And don’t forget, you are an expert. You’ll both be glad that you and she had these talks.

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