By Ololade Hector-Fowobaje
It’s unfortunate that many mothers don’t prepare their children for puberty with basic sexuality education. Sexuality education is essential for them to cope psychologically with the changes they will eventually have to face. Menstruation, for instance is about the most significant event in adolescence as far as a girl is concerned, yet majority of girls are left chronically ignorant of what it entails.
SAY TO HER…
One of the big changes that puberty brings for a girl is experiencing her first menstrual period. It’s a good sign that her body is growing as it should.
Periods start between ages 9 to 16, mostly between ages 11 to 13; about 2 years after the breasts start getting bigger. Period comes once a month and it take 3 to 7 days for the ‘blood like’ liquid to come out; this is made up of her eggs and other stuff and trickles out of her vagina intermittently.
You need a pad (or tampons when older) to soak up the ‘blood’ and protect your clothes from blood stains. Pads are rectangular padded cotton wool that a girl puts in her pants during her period. Pads should be changed every four hours or they might leak onto her clothes and germs can build up inside the vagina. A girl should always have a pad in her bag in case her period starts. It can start anywhere. I will give you a pad to put in your school bag now. However, if you are without a pad at school or somewhere else, enlist the help of any female adult around to get you one. A girl should also record and keep track of her dates every month in a dairy. (Every child should have a diary)
Some girls have tummy ache or backaches during their periods. It can help to pot a hot water bottle on your belly, or have a hot bath. You can also use pain relief tablets. Calcium also reduces cramps and pre-menstrual period symptoms. Pre-menstrual period symptoms include bloating. Some girls throw up and even break out in pimples at this time.
I menstruate. All women menstruate (unless there is a medical issue.) Once you start menstruating, you can get pregnant if you engage in sexual activity.
You may hear some stuff like, “When you menstruate you are spoilt (rotten)” or the most common “If you want less painful periods, have sex.” They are nothing but myths. They are not true and you should ignore them.
Menstruation comes with discomfort and may seem unpleasant, but we have to learn to live with it. You must accept it as part of your new identity. It is nothing to be ashamed of.
Menstruation stops around the late 40s when women go into another stage called menopause.