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It's a Girl Thing - 2020

Going through puberty can be an uncertain time in the lives of tweens and teens, but especially so in the midst the health pandemic our world has experienced in 2020.

Every year, Van Wert Health presents an event called "It's a Girl Thing" where staff from Van Wert Health present information about adolescence and growing up to young ladies ages 9-12. Our 2020 session looked a little bit different this year as we took precautions to ensure a safe and fun event.

As in past years, we asked the girls to tell us what was on their minds or to write down their most pressing questions that they are curious about - all anonymously. The questions the girls submitted were heavily on the topics of periods. We know there can be much anxiety and fear-of-the-unknown related to this. We hope that by answering the girls' questions in an honest and straightforward way, that this will open up healthy conversations in the future between the girls and a trusted adult.

Thank you to all of the girls and trusted adults who came to our 2020 event on Thursday, October 8. We had a BLAST with you!

P.S. Lots of girls together in the same room = lots and lots of giggles!

 

I’m scared to get my first period.

It is totally understandable if you are worried or scared, but there is nothing to be afraid of. Periods are a natural part of being a teenage girl and growing up.

How long do you keep a tampon in?

You should change your tampon every 4-6 hours, or when it’s saturated/full with blood. The more frequently, the better.  Because you can’t see the blood as you would with a pad, you’ll need to remember when it’s time to change it. 

 Never leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours. Bacteria can grow on a tampon that is left in for too long, which can cause an infection and make you sick.

If you have to change your pad or tampon every 1 to 2 hours because it's soaked, or bleed longer than 7 days, check with your doctor or health provider as it may be a sign of a problem with your periods.

Does it hurt to wear a tampon?

One of the most common questions we get is about whether or not wearing a tampon will hurt. While you shouldn't be able to feel a tampon at all when it's fully inserted, putting a tampon in can be uncomfortable the first few times you do it.  When the tampon is correctly in place, it should not hurt.

I’m scared I’ll bleed through my jeans.

Being scared about “bleeding through” your clothes is totally normal – no one wants to have to worry about the possibility of showing the world that you are on your period!  The best way to prevent this is to make sure you’re using the best absorbency for your needs, whether you decide to use a pad or a tampon.  Talk to a trusted woman in your life to figure out what best meets your needs. Most tweens and teens can use a “regular absorbency” pad or tampon, but you may need more coverage during the heavier days of your period.

If you decide to wear a tampon and you are worried about leaking, you may want to wear a panty liner in addition to your tampon.  The panty liner will soak up any leakage, not your panties or outer clothes. 

You can also keep an extra sweatshirt in your locker to tie around your waist if you’re worried about being caught off-guard and blood showing through your pants.

Will anyone know when I’m on my period?

Nope! Unless you tell them! If they ask you, it’s totally up to you if you want to share or not.

What if I get my first period in school?

Many girls’ biggest fears is that people might see them taking a pad out of their locker at school.  We recommend using a cute carrying case or container for transporting pads, tampons, panty liners and everything else you use to get you through your period without any unpleasant surprises.

Even if you haven't started your period yet, it's a good idea to be prepared by carrying a few pads or tampons with you, just in case. Then, if today is the day, you'll be ready!

If you are unprepared though, you can go to your school nurse or teacher and ask for some supplies. You can also your school counselor to get you in touch with your mom or another trusted adult.

When do periods stop?

Women stop getting periods when they are pregnant and when they reach menopause (that just means that menstruation, or your period, stops).  This usually happens around age 45-55.  Stress, going on a strict and unhealthy diet, very heavy exercise and illness can also stop periods for a while.

Will my twin get her period at the same time that I do?

Girls go through puberty and start their periods at different times.  This is normal!  Sometimes twins will start their periods close together and sometimes twins will start their period years apart!  We’re all different and unique.

Does having your period hurt or feel weird?

Menstruation itself doesn’t hurt, but some girls and women get cramps which can be uncomfortable.

What if I get really bad cramps?

Lots of girls experience cramps before or during their periods.  Here are few things that can help.

  • Get moving. Even if you don't feel like it, exercise helps loosen up the muscles that are cramping.
  • Take a warm bath or shower. You can also use a heating pad on your belly to help alleviate the cramps.
  • Rub your tummy. This can help loosen those cramping muscles.

If these things do not work, talk to a trusted adult to come up with a plan for taking an over the counter pain reliever. Never take any medicine without talking to them first.

If I’m craving something, is it okay to eat it?

Sometimes we have cravings for certain foods. Rather than digging right in, it can be helpful to ask ourselves if what you want to eat is going to make you feel better just for the moment or if it will help you feel good for a while. Foods like candy, cookies, chips, ice cream might make us happy as we are eating it but in a short while after eating we tend to get tired, want more, and even feel bad about eating it.   Go for sweet treat like peanut butter and apple slices or banana.

Why do our breasts grow?

Breast development can be a time of excitement for many girls, but it can also cause anxiety as tween and teen girls get used to their changing body.  Breasts grow in response to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.  When you start puberty, these hormone levels increase and your breasts begin to grow.  As you continue into womanhood, your hormone levels will change during your period, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause.  And all these can have an impact on your breast size.

Why do we grow hair?

Hair growth is a part of growing up and just a part of how our bodies are made.  It is also a sign of puberty and maturing into an adult.

Why does our hair get oily?

Puberty causes all kinds of changes in your body. Your skin and hair (scalp) may become oily. This is a normal part of the hormonal changes you’ll go through.  Each strand of hair has its own sebaceous (oil) gland, which keeps hair shiny.  But during puberty, these glands can produce extra oil, and it might make your hair appear shiny, oily, and greasy.  Washing your hair every day or every-other-day can help manage oily hair.

Does the food I eat have an effect on my puberty? Do the hormones in meat and milk impact puberty?

That is a great question. It is something that continues to be studied by scientists and doctors. If this is something you and your family are concerned about be sure to talk to your doctor, Nurse Practitioner or a Registered Dietician.

Will my friends be mad at me if I’m moody? Should I tell them?

You might find yourself getting really irritable for almost no reason, or you might feel “down” without knowing why.  It’s completely normal to go from sadness or anger or loneliness to joy in just a matter of minutes.  This can sometimes feel like you’re on an emotional roller coaster. 

Almost everyone goes through these mood swings and your friends will understand.  You can choose to tell them or not to tell them, it’s up to you! Never be afraid to talk to a trusted adult if you are feeling this way more than you think you should. Sometimes we all need someone to talk to. There are also people who are trained to help you work through these feelings such as school counselors and social workers. Reach out for help.

What should I do if I get really nervous before a big test?

Have you ever felt like your stomach hurt or needed to use the bathroom more than normal before a test?  Or have you ever felt tension in your shoulders or sweaty hands?  Some people experience anxiety and these symptoms are common for many kids. 

If you start to feel this way, concentrate on taking five slow breaths >> in through your nose and out through your mouth.  When you are doing this, sometimes it helps to imagine you’re smelling a beautiful flower or your favorite food as you breathe in, and then breathe out with a big sign.  During our “It’s A Girl Thing” event, we learned about tracing up and down your fingers of one hand to guide your breathing.  After you taking 5 breaths, asks yourself: How does your body feel?  Do you feel better or would you like to take another 5 breaths?

Will mood swings make you nervous?

It can be scary not knowing why you are feeling a particular emotion and how long it will last. Talking with a friend or family member about how you are feeling and why you may be nervous is a good step to take. It is very likely that they have experienced similar things, and can talk about what helps them feel less nervous about it.