Put A Cup In It

Talking With Your Child About Periods – It’s Not As Awkward As You Think!

Mother talking with her child, looking at a computer. Text overlay reads "Talking with your child about periods. It's not as awkward as you think!"

Navigating the world of adolescence can be a tricky journey, and there are few things more daunting than having to have the “period talk” with your pre-teen/teen. It’s important to make sure they are prepared and understand the changes that their bodies are going through. In this article, we’ll explore some tips and suggestions (approved by my own teens) on how to approach the topic of periods with your child in a way that is both informative and comfortable — hopefully!

When to Start Talking With Your Child About Periods

I don’t believe there is ever an age that’s too early to start discussing periods with kids, but it is important to consider your child’s level of development as well, as children at different ages will have different levels of understanding and may have different questions or concerns. Generally speaking, most kids will start to experience physical symptoms of puberty between the ages of 8 and 16, with the average age being 11 and their first period being at 12. If you haven’t already, this is a good time to start talking with your child about periods and opening the door for questions as they arise.

Calm Fears & Anxieties Before They Can Start

Letting your child know upfront that their body will take some time to get use to all of the new hormones, and what that means, can help stop fears before they even have a chance to develop. This helps keep the focus on your child’s experience by not leading the way with assumptions about what is or will be “normal” for them. The first years of having a period can mean being regular or irregular, and having heavy or light periods. While there are common threads, everyone will have their own unique experience with their periods and development. A basic understanding that they can all be variations of normal can help your child feel safe, confident, and less worried when they start comparing to the experiences of their friends.

Start With The Basics of Periods

Keep it simple and don’t be afraid to share your experiences. I don’t know about you, but there is absolutely a time limit on how long my children can hear me after I start speaking. It’s like magic. One moment they’re there, the next they’re gone. Talk openly with your child and keep it simple to start. You don’t have to cover everything at once but getting started is important. You can always build from there.

When Will Your First Period Happen?

  • Your first period is typically around 2 years after the first signs of puberty (acne, breast buds, pubic hair, underarm hair, etc).
  • On average, the first period is at age 12, though any age between 8 & 16 is normal.
  • Periods typically happen every 21-35 days (28 on average), but it can take a while for your periods to become regular. Unless you’ve had unprotected sexual contact, there is no reason to worry during this time.

Put A Cup In It Reproductive Anatomy Diagram Vulva Clitoris Uterus Vagina

What Are All Of The Parts Down There?

  • Periods are a function of the reproductive system. This consists of a few key parts when it comes to menstruation. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, vagina, and vulva.
  • The ovaries are two small organs located on either side of the uterus that produce eggs and hormones.
  • The fallopian tubes are the pathways that the eggs travel through to get to the uterus.
  • The uterus is a pear-shaped organ where the uterine lining (endometrium) grows. The very bottom of the uterus is the cervix.
  • The cervix is the opening at the bottom of the uterus that connects to the vagina.
  • The vagina is the canal that leads to the outside of the body and the vulva. Period care options like cups, discs, and tampons are worn inside of the vagina.
  • The vulva is the term used to describe the parts on the outside as a whole (though it is made up of the inner and outer labia, clitoris, mons pubis, hymen, and opening of the urethra. Period care like pads and period underwear provide external protection and are worn to cover the vulva and, thus, the vaginal opening.
  • Oh! There are three holes down there! From top to bottom are the urethra (where pee comes out), the vagina (discussed above), and the anus (where poop comes out).

Put A Cup In It Menstrual Cycle Period Anatomy Diagram Uterus

What’s Actually Happening When You Have A Period? 

  • Each menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus thickens and then sheds (unless pregnancy occurs). This uterine lining is the blood and tissue that is seen in your cup, on your pad, etc.
  • The days of a period typically last anywhere from 3-7 days
  • The amount of period flow can vary from light to heavy bleeding, and will eventually become somewhat predictable and their own version of regular/normal cycle.
  • Physical symptoms can include cramping, bloating, and weird poops. Staying hydrated and using over the counter medications like Midol, ibuprofen, and Tylenol can help alleviate discomfort if needed.
  • You may also notice mood swings and changes in emotions.
    • For my own teens, I used this as an opportunity to help them become aware of any patterns to help lessen feelings of confusions, anxiousness, and a lack of control.

Put A Cup In It Period Care Options Menstrual Cup Disc Pads Tampon Period Underwear

What Are The Options For Managing Periods?

Choice of period care is personal and there is no magical age at when a particular option becomes viable — personal readiness what matters. My suggestion is to make the options known and follow your child’s lead.

  • Menstrual Cups — Reusable. Made from medical grade silicone.
    • Our teen guide is a great resource for more information on both cups & discs.
  • Menstrual Discs — Reusable. Made from medical grade silicone. (There are disposable discs made from plastic, though I don’t recommend them.)
  • Tampons — Single use. Disposable. Made from rayon, cotton, or a blend.
  • Cloth Pads — Reusable. Made from any variety of fabrics.
  • Disposable Pads — Disposable. Most commonly made from a blend of rayon, cotton, and misc. plastics.
  • Period Underwear — Reusable. Made from any variety of fabrics.

What About Sexuality & Reproduction? How Does Pregnancy Happen? 

These topics are very important, but honestly they deserve a post all their own to really get into it. But, we can cover some basics.


  • Sexuality generally refers to the way we feel and express ourselves as sexual beings. Things like who we are attracted to, how we feel about our own bodies, and what we like to do with other people (if we choose to do so at all).
  • Sexuality is a normal, personal part of who we are and it’s important respect each other’s sexuality, just as we respect differences in other areas of life.

Pregnancy / Reproduction

  • Each cycle an egg is released from an ovary (ovulation). The egg, which is very tiny, travels from the ovary through the fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it can be fertilized by a sperm.
  • Sperm typically reaches the egg by means of sexual activity involving both a vulva and a penis, though it can happen in other intentional ways if needed or desired.
  • If the egg is not fertilized, it will be shed with the lining of the uterus (a period!) and no pregnancy will happen.

Put A Cup In It Period Puberty Book Recommendations You Know Sex Youology Every Body Book HelloFlo Period Guide

Books To Give You A Helping Hand

Talking is great, but showing helps, too! These are some wonderful, age appropriate books on the subject of periods, puberty, and sexuality.

It also important to mention that menstruation can affect everyday activities, such as school, sports, and social events. Encourage your child to talk to you or another trusted adult if they are struggling to manage their symptoms or if they have any questions or concerns at all. And remember, you don’t have to cover everything all at once. Opening the conversation is what’s important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Email Us Facebook Facebook Group YouTube Instagram TikTok Twitter Pinterest