The onset of menstruation (commonly known as periods) can be a source of great anxiety for parents of girls with a disability. These are common questions parents ask us:
“Will my daughter understand?”
“Will my daughter be able to manage pads or other sanitary products ”
As a very general rule if your daughter can take themselves to the toilet, they will likely be able to manage their own pad changes. Helpful tools such as these story boards can be used to help teach your daughter about how to change a pad. Talking about periods and pads to your daughter before she gets her first period can help prepare her for this change and may even reduce anxiety (worry) and make managing periods smoother when they do arrive.
Lots of girls worry that the blood means they are hurt. It can be helpful to explain to your daughter that this blood is normal, it will happen regularly, it is part of her body changing and she is not hurt.
This storyboard about how to change a pad may be a helpful teaching resource.
A number of additional resources about puberty are available to purchase at the Kids Health Info Bookshop on the ground floor of RCH
“Can’t we just stop the periods?”
Many parents feel it would be ideal to stop the periods. Periods are a normal, healthy part of being female and an important biological function, good for bone health and cardiac function. For most parents of girls with a disability periods are much easier to manage than expected and there is no reason to stop menstruation.
If periods cause problems – severe pain, excessive bleeding or trigger seizures if your daughter has epilepsy or other issues specific to your child, talk to your GP or paediatrician about your issues and they may refer you to a gynaecologist for assessment.
This booklet contains lots of useful information about menstruation in girls and women with disabilities.
Onset of menstruation
When periods first start they can occur at irregular times and unpredictable in length. It is really useful to keep a period diary either on paper (a template of a diary is in the back of the booklet linked above) or through a smart phone app once your daughter’s period has started. You can take this information to your next appointment with a GP or Paediatrician. Useful information to put in the diary is:
- the day the period starts
- how many days it lasts
- if you think the period is heavy, medium or light
- changes in behaviour
- any other issues that worry you.
This video produced by the Raising Children Network may assist you to prepare your daughter for the onset on menstruation.
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