Teens often experience a variety of period pains, including menstrual cramps, body aches, fatigue, and mood swings – all part of the menstruation process. However, there's a less-discussed aspect that can be challenging for many: advocating for their menstrual health.
Discussing their menstrual cycle might feel nerve-racking or uncomfortable, especially when it involves advocating for themselves to a medical professional. Nonetheless, understanding how their bodies work, learning to speak up about their cycle, and recognizing that it's okay to talk to a doctor can have far-reaching benefits beyond just their menstrual health—it positively impacts their overall physical and mental well-being.
For your teen, initiating the conversation about periods and taking charge of their health and wellness can be done in five key ways, setting them on a path to feel more empowered and proactive in managing their well-being during this important phase of life.
Periods are normal, so is talking about it.
Talking about your teens period is super helpful in normalizing their experience. There’s nothing to hide here! If they're feeling less than amazing, they should feel comfortable to say it out loud. If they're PMSing, they should know they can tell their pals. If they need tips on pain relief or how to relieve menstrual discomfort, that’s what besties are for!
Talking about their period and all that goes along with it, (painful cramps and other symptoms, menstrual bleeding, period products like reusable pads and period underwear, and even hormonal birth control) will help them feel more comfortable to reach out for support.
Find out! Read: does caffeine help period cramps?
We suggest using names like “menstruation” or “period” when talking about their period. Try phasing out language and period euphemisms like Aunt Flo, riding the crimson wave, Shark Week etc. Euphemisms can make it feel like we have something to hide when talking about periods, when in reality it's a completely normal bodily function. No hiding necessary.
The more we talk about periods using its actual terminology, the more it helps to smash period stigma, and the more it helps our kids feel more empowered when it comes to their bodies.
Painful periods and menstrual cramps: what's normal for their body?
Like snowflakes, no two periods are alike. Everyone has a different normal, so take some time to figure out what that means for your teen! Encourage them to keep track of their period -- when it starts, when it ends, how heavy the flow is, and how they feel emotionally and physically. This will help provide clarity on what is normal period pain for them, and what does severe pain feel like?
There are a ton of apps that can help you keep track of your period, like Clue and Flo.
Learning about their cycle will give them a better understanding of when something feels “off,” different, or irregular for them. The more they know about their body, the easier it is to speak to exactly what kind of care they might need.
Find online resources and communities
If your teen has questions about their menstrual health, Kt's blog The Rag has a bunch of period resources to get you rolling to answer their questions. To get started, you can click here for some info about PMS, and another about mental health on their period.
The internet is an amazing first step and a great opportunity to ask questions to people in the same boat. For example, what are the best natural pain relievers for menstrual cramps?
Even social media apps like TikTok can be a great tool for accessing info from medical professionals like gynecologist Dr. Staci.
Teens should remember to be honest and persistent when advocating for their menstrual health. Equipped with new knowledge and resources available online, discussing and standing up for their well-being should become more manageable. If they don't feel emotionally or physically well during their period or any other puberty changes, it's crucial to voice their needs and maintain persistence in seeking appropriate care.
Talking to a medical professional
Teens have every right to speak to a medical professional about various concerns related to their menstrual health and general well-being. Whether it's menstrual pain, pain relief options, birth control, ovarian cysts, pelvic exams, endometriosis, irregular bleeding, or any other health issue, they should feel empowered to address these matters with your help.
While advocating for oneself is essential, having an ally to assist in accessing healthcare can also be beneficial. Some people may face challenges in seeking medical help due to various reasons, but for those who have access to healthcare, talking to a doctor should not be a cause for embarrassment or stress. It's essential you help them recognize that doctors are there to support and help, and seeking their assistance is entirely acceptable.
However, it's worth acknowledging that menstruation stigma exists in society, and even the healthcare industry may not be entirely immune. If teens ever feel that their concerns are not being taken seriously, they should remember that they know their bodies best. Trusting their instincts and seeking a healthcare provider who listens and understands their needs is essential.
There are numerous skilled practitioners who can provide excellent care, and seeking a second opinion is always an option if needed. The key is to remain confident and proactive in taking charge of their health. They have the strength and capability to navigate through the challenges that come with menstruation and puberty, and they should never hesitate to seek the care and support they deserve.
To download in Canada, please click here.