Two questions about menstruation- DoperWimmin, help me?

Preface: I’ve got a 13 year old daughter who got her period for the first time about 5 months ago. I’m uh… fairly aware of the inner workings of wimmin, but there are two things I am curious/confused over. Please, please, don’t lecture me sternly about being an Understanding Father of A Girl Who Gets PMS. I get it. She’s my girl. :slight_smile:

  1. It appears to me that some girls, when approaching and experiencing menarche, gain weight. A few years later, many of them shed a lot of it as their bodies finish the puberty cycle. I’ve heard women call that, when talking about their daughters, their " last baby fat". Is it a fact or just an impression that these girls are going to put on weight at the time when their bodies are ready to start making babies - because they need extra fuel for a baby, etc ?

  2. Swimming. Tampons. Uncomfortable with the idea of them. ( she is, not I am ). Here’s the question: If a virgin has her hymen intact…how the heck can you insert a tampon into the vagina far enough for it to be effective, and not rupture the hymen? My understanding is that the hymen exists fairly close to the vaginal opening. Will it be painful the first time she tries using a tampon? Which one might she try for that’s not as big around as others?

Yes, she has a Mom in the house, but Mom isn’t comfortable with these discussions and I am, so she and I discuss such things openly and in comfort and trust.

Thoughts? Answers?


I don’t think the hymen is an impenetrable wall-- it’s more like padding around the edges-- it shouldn’t hurt and shouldn’t rupture with a tampon. It should be fine.
Other hints-- Tampax from the applicator for some reason acts like a frikking wick and always leaks for me. Mention to her that she should NOT take ASPIRIN for cramps-- she’ll bleed like a stuck pig and the quality of her adolescence will suffer. This is something I wish someone had told me much earlier.
I have no idea about the fat thing.

Funny anecdote - I remember Frannie in the 9th grade wanted to join the swim team. Our older girl friend in the 10th grade actually inserted Frannies first tampon cause she absolutely could not get one in ( a thick hymen maybe)! No funny stuff just girls helping each other out!

Hymens generally aren’t impenetrable, and if it were, she’d be miserable by now seeing as she’s having periods. And vaginas are fairly stretchy; think about it, babies come out of there! I hate Tampax, but don’t they make an extra-small size for younger girls? I wouldn’t trust them around the clock, but for swimming, sure. I don’t remember having problems with tampons and I used them for years before I officially lost my virginity.

If you can get her at all comfortable with trying them, I’d start her on tampons. I was afraid to use them for years–but I would never voluntarily go back to pads now.

One tip: if she feels pain from using a tampon, it may be because she hasn’t gotten it far enough in. I made this mistake the first time and thought it was my hymen getting in the way. That’s not what it is.

No idea about the whys and wherefores of the fat thing, but tampons DO come in various sizes, and the “mini” one should be ok. Perhaps she could be persuaded to give it a try with a sort of compare and contrast about how she feels about applicator versus non-applicator tampons. The latter make more sense to me, and of course, are nicely small for the ease of carrying sapres in one’s handbag/purse, but her mileage may vary.

Um, perhaps they soemtimes do break the hymen, but not always, I can tell you.

Troublesome for you to be be the one stuck with these discussion, but gold star for being so helpful to your daughter. :slight_smile:

That nasty big “sun” thing is mkaing me blind, so I am sorry if this psot is a bit of a typo-fest.

I do have to say that it’s cool your daughter can talk to you about periods and stuff. My dad would have killed himself if it had been up to him to handle that topic of conversation.

Suggestion also if she is trying tampons for the first time - a little KY jelly on the tip can help make them easier to insert. Also let her try both versions - with and without applicator just to see which she finds is easiest - the without version can actually help in that you know how far in it is. I prefer tampons as they are less smelly than pads - but also make sure she knows how regularly to change them, as this is meant to increase risk of TSS.

In terms of the fat thing - not sure why kids put on weight at this time, but I know I did from around the age of 12 or so. Not sure if this was period related or that I started to have more control over what I was eating - probably a little of both, so may pay to have nutrition discussions as well - not diets, but the importance of eating well.

Good on you for feeling comfortable about having these discussions, and for realising that it’s important for a girl to have someone to talk about this stuff with. I was lucky to have my mum, and your daughter is lucky to have you.

I did gain some weight around the time of my menarche. I lost it by junior year in HS (I started my period when I was 12). I think it may have something to do with the hormone swings in puberty, but that’s a WAG on my part.

As for the hymen–I wouldn’t worry about it. She may not have one, or it may have torn when she fell off a bike or whatever as a youngster.

She needs to be relaxed and ready to use a tampon. I wouldn’t push her–my daughter used pads for about 9 months and only went to tampons because of church camp. Get her a box of Junior Tampax (let her pick 'em out) and tell her to use up as many as she needs to get comfortable with them.

Also tell her not to flush more than one at a time–major plumber’s bill could happen!

Mum needs to get a life–daughter is not getting a nice grounding in entry to womanhood here. Sorry, just my opinion.

Estrogen and fat are fairly closely linked. That is, you need enough body fat to make estrogen, and then estrogen encourages the production of “feminine” body fat: hips, breats, thighs. So yes, it’s not unreasonable for girls to notice themselves putting on “baby fat” (that is, all over fat) before they start menstruating, and for them to “slim down” to womanly fat: breats, hips and thighs soon after. I don’t know that it’s so much losing the baby fat as growing taller to stretch it out and then putting on female fat.

As for “because of baby-making,” sure, why not? We really don’t know “why” anything in nature happens, but yes, having a good amount of body fat makes for better estrogen production, which makes pregnancy more likely, as well as having an energy store for pregnancy and breastfeeding. But I’ve noticed that boys put on a last burst of baby fat before puberty, too. So it may just be the body gearing up and storing energy for the massive growth spurt that comes with puberty.

The hymen has a hole in it, which lets menstrual fluid out, as well as letting tampons in. If her hymen’s hole is particularly small, it might be too painful to get a tampon in. Her gynecologist can snip it at her next office visit if that’s the case. While this is a rarity, if a tampon is too painful, her first intercourse could be excrutiating, and I’d recommend having it nipped steriley and quickly at the doctor’s office. (Now that she’s menstruating, she does need to see a gyne. The first visit’s usually informational - I don’t think I had a PAP until I was 17 or so, thank goddess!)

I strongly recomend you get a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility and both of you (and Mom!) should read it. It covers in vast, but easy to understand, detail the hormonal and physical changes of each menstrual cycle, as well as how to avoid pregnancy and how to (when the time is right) get pregnant with ease. I, for one, would not have been buying over the counter yeast infection treatments every month for several years had I read this book and learned about cervical fluid first! I get a copy of it for every teenage girl I’m close with - and quite a few older women as well!

Tampons come in sizes, including a “slim” or “teen” size. The applicators are also made of various materials (plastic, cylindrical cardboard, shaped cardboard, no applicator) and it is a very personal preference. The hymen, as already mentioned, is not a solid wall, and has usually been stretched or torn in most women by our modern active lifestyles. I would not expect it to hurt although it’s important to be relaxed so the muscles don’t constrict.

Something that has not been suggested already, that I would add, is to try a tampon for the first time on a fairly heavy day, as things go in easier with more, erm, lubrication (although it is messier to deal with, which is a downside) Put in correctly, she should not feel the tampon at all, it should sit in the part of the passage that has few nerve endings, just above a sort of bottleneck formed by muscles. Because you can’t feel it at all, it’s easy to forget about it. TSS stands for Toxic Shock Syndrome, a nasty thing that can be avoided by changing tampons regularly (every 4 hours). There is lots of info along these lines in the little infosheet that comes in a packet of tampons.

Your daughter (and you) seem a little underinformed for this event, I suggest a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” available in any library or bookstore to get the straight dope. :slight_smile:

Best of luck and don’t worry, you are a great dad for wanting to know more!

That might be a point worht emphasising to the girl, actually! :slight_smile: It beats the tiresomeness of panty pads, really

Best of luck with it all. :slight_smile:

Unless your daughter is on the swim team I wouldn’t push the Tampons too much. Have some slim around, explain the hows and whys and leave it at that. If you daughter is like 99% of the girls her age, she’s squirming with all of this - let alone having her dad debating the plus and minus of various tampon types.

Related joke: A little boy went to visit Sant Claus in December. “What do you want little boy?” Santa asked.
“I want a tampon,” responded th boy.
“A tampon!” Santa exclaimed, “why ever for?”
“Because I’ve seen the ads - if I get a tampon I can swim, hike, and go horse back riding.”

And please let her know (I am quite leery of Mom now) that it is not ewwy or gross or nasty to do this. She should wash her hands after inserting a tampon, but she should be washing her hands after using the toilet anyway.

I second the doing it on a heavy flow day. And dont’ let her wear one for more than maybe 3 hours? I say that because of TSS–I just don’t want her to forget she’s got one in (and you can forget, believe me).

Phew! seems like alot of info, but it is simple, really.
Please get her a book: What’s Happening to My Body for girls is excellent.

And what the hell is wrong with Mom? This I-don’t-want-to-deal-with-this is not good for a new teen girl. Whatever will she do about dating? Or sex?

OK. I love Tampax - I know other women hate them. Just thought I’d chime in on that.

Now, as to the whole how to use a tampon thing - there’s no delicate way to talk about it, so the best we can hope for is not too gross and absolute deadly seriousness.

Inside every box of tampons is a sheet of paper with, if I remember correctly, directions. Bear with me, because it has been many years since I looked at the directions. They offer a number of suggestions on body positions for maximal ease of insertion. For a beginner (and I wish someone had told me this years ago), probably the easiest way is facing the toilet with one foot up on the rim of the bowl. She can also do one foot up on the edge of the tub, whatever. Then lean over and insert.

One way for your daughter to tell for sure if the tampon is ‘in right’ is to feel her ‘parts’ where the tampon just went in. She should feel string but no tampon. If there is any part of the tampon still ‘outside’ then it is not in right and she needs to throw that one away start over. She can’t use that one again. It’s ok to go though a bunch of them when you’re getting the hang of it. It is only when the tampon is all the way in that a) it works and b) you can’t feel it. Especially the part about not feeling it. Then wash hands.

She should change the tampon about every four hours or so, no huge crisis if it’s a little longer. Change sooner, if needed, for obvious reasons. Change after swimming, it gets waterlogged. I use one overnight, not everybody does. There are subtopics about changing a tampon every time you pee, or just moving the thread aside. You can search for threads about that - I’m simply not up for making the definitive call.
I cannot believe that I just typed all that up. Nobody is allowed to laugh.

Regarding weight - I didn’t gain any around the time I started my period, but then I was pretty well a stick until I was about 21 - I didn’t have to buy a bra until then either.

Regarding tampons, most likely she’s alreay ruptured her hymen anyhow - I think most girls do these days from riding bikes or horses or horsing around or gymnastics, etc. so that shouldn’t be an issue.

If she’s keen to try them, suggest that the first time she insert one, she should do it standing in front of the toilet, with one foot raised on the side of the tub or toilet bowl - it sort of eases the passage of the tampon.

I wouldn’t push it though - most of my girlfriends didn’t start using them until we were in our later teens - 18 or 19. I don’t know if it was just my gang or if it’s common, but most girls that started when they were around the age I started (13) stuck to pads for a while).

Regarding swimming - I was able to go with nothing (believe it or not), as long as as soon as I got out I grabbed a towel. Seriously - my mom suggested it because that’s what she did as a teen as well - I never had any trouble. I didn’t try this on really heavy flow days, however.

Finally, regarding cramps - I had doozies - motrin is your friend. :slight_smile:

Lots of fine advice from the previous posters.

I’ll second the KY jelly suggestion. I didn’t have that as a teen, and wish I’d been told. Lot of frustrating dry attempts during the first lighter flow. With heavier flow, there’s already some pre-lubricant. At first, I used pads (wayyyy clunkier then) and tampons until I was comfortable with the tampons. Now, pads are so much thinner, absorbent, and undetectable, that it’s not as much the horror of visibilty issue it was back in the day. Let her go at her own level of comfort.

Knowing what your inner feminine structure looks like is important. The vagina is canted at an angle, not straight up, and understanding that can help with inserting a tampon correctly. The tampons , as said , have inserts with diagrams, and the books mentioned have more detail. Haven’t checked, but I’d guess that Tampax, et al, would have websites with that info, which your daughter could explore on her own.

Your daughter is lucky to have such a great Dad, Cartooniverse, and being able to discuss puberty with her father really takes the subject out of the “hiding shame only for women” realm. Very lucky girl! Thinking too, though, that Mom needs to get on board with the discussion, so your daughter doesn’t wonder why women don’t talk about it.

I’ve heard that the weigh gain has more to do with preparation for a growth spurt than anything to do with being female. Doesn’t it sometimes happen to young boys right before they shoot up in height too?

Jeezopete, I remember the first time I tried to use a tampon. I think it took me 2 hours and several ruined tampons to figure out how to insert one correctly. But I didn’t have any lubricant or anything, and my knowledge of my own anatomy was kinda shaky. But I managed it finally, and didn’t look back after.

Good on you for being a thoughtful father. I would have died before I asked either my mother OR my father for help, but I was a very shy kid too.

Yep, just like I said in my second paragraph. :wink:

“Female fat” does seem to be needed for ovulation, and therefore for pregnancy, but I don’t think it’s identical to the baby fat the OP speaks of. Many girls menstruate before they fully develop breast, hip and thigh fat. Accordingly, girls often don’t ovulate for months or years after menarche.