The first few years of periods can be confusing, painful, scary, embarrassing, stress-inducing, and difficult. It’s a time of learning and figuring things out, and many teens will turn to the adults in their life for support and advice.

Explain what’s ‘normal’

This is a tricky one, as what’s ‘normal’ for one person may be abnormal to the next. However, it’s important to try to ascertain whether a teenager is experiencing period pain or something different, such as endometriosis. As many as one in ten New Zealand women suffer from endometriosis, which is typically characterised by severe, debilitating pain.

Severe period pain may also signal fibroids, cysts, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), so it’s important to rule out these conditions before moving straight on to pain relief. If there’s any uncertainty about the cause of the pain, it’s best to speak with a medical professional.

Talk about periods often and early

Bring up periods often to demystify and destigmatise the topic. If you can, start talking about periods well before menstruation occurs so they have an idea of what to expect. Make sure they know about things like PMS, good hygiene habits, Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), and that some discharge between periods is totally normal.

Set up their environment for success

Ensure they have a supply of sanitary products at home and in their school bag. Make sure there’s a rubbish bin with a liner and a lid in their bathroom. Try not to hide menstrual products – they can live in the bathroom cabinet to teach young minds menstruation is not something to be ashamed of.

Listen to their concerns

Try not to force teens to participate in certain activities if they are anxious during their period. For example, swimming sports or athletics. These events can be traumatic for girls learning about their periods. Let them know they can trust you and that what they say stays between you and them (and perhaps their family doctor).

Support them to find appropriate pain relief

Your teen may have to try a few different remedies to find the best pain relief for their unique body and experience. Whether that’s an over-the-counter pain relief like Maxigesic® or something more holistic, support them to find what works for them. Please seek advice from a medical professional if the pain is severe.

In summary

Being there for your teen and creating an open conversation about period pain will help ensure they feel supported and less alone.

Disclamer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not substitute advice from your healthcare professional. If symptoms persist or you require specialist advice, please consult your healthcare professional.