As I write this I have to admit I'm a little furious, having just taken my youngest daughter to see the Nurse at our Medical Centre. Despite spending nearly the last year, since my older daughter started her periods researching on the internet, the amount of information/advise on 11 year olds having periods is limited. Both my daughters have started their periods at 11 years old. Two whole years than my own periods started. Next time you are in the "feminine hygiene" section of a supermarket have a look at how many of those products are actually suitable for 11 year olds. Out of all the brands there is only one I have managed to find that is aimed at teens lil-lets and then there are only two varieties of towels-day and night. Yet if you read enough information on periods/menstruation the average age to start is 12 years. So who forgot to tell the multi-million pound towels/tampon industry then? Even painkillers are aimed at older teenagers/adults. Having given both my 11 year olds Calpol for period pain-it just does not seem right.
When I manage to find the teen towels I look like some crazy lady stocking for the apocalypse with lil-lets towels because their not available everywhere and so I have to stock up when I can. I'm not even going to complain about the cost, its so irrelevant.
Why am I so angry/furious today? The nurse was fine enough but there isn't much she can do apart from prescribe some different painkillers, which are called Mefenamic Acid as we just need to wait and see if they settle. This afternoon she has had 1 of these tablets, even though it says to take two, the result? She went very pale and felt very sick and had to have a lie down. It did nothing to take her period pain away, in fact all it did was make her feel utterly miserable and upset. My poor daughter is having very heavy periods, leaking through underwear and clothes, waking in the night to change towels and take pain relief. This is not OK, its not "let's wait and see if it settles down" or lets give her more painkillers/stronger painkillers. When I mentioned to the nurse taking something else she said the pill was not really an option at this age. Whilst its really not what I want either, I'm slightly confused as to the health benefits of taking iburofen/paracetamol/mefenamic acid over at least a week-surely that isn't doing her much good either. Its the attitude that periods have to be suffered that I'm more annoyed about. Its impacting her life in a negative way and as her mother there is very little I can do about it. I feel so helpless and angry on her behalf, its 2013 and it might as well be the middle ages for all that can be done about it. I may have to think about a homeopath? Because my attitude just can't be that she needs to suffer and "get on with it".
I'm just incredibly grateful she is home educated because otherwise she would be trying to manage this at school, leaking through her uniform and being in pain. How many other teenage girls are suffering?
I have tried to prepare the girls as much as possible with the changes their bodies will go through, I started a couple of years ago and I've always tried to be as honest as possible. My own experiences with my mother made me feel embarrassed and I remember having painful periods and just having to get on with them. I didn't want to have that for my daughters so I've been very open even though at times, due to my own upbringing, I have found it difficult. I'm so glad that I started discussing these things with them earlier so they felt prepared but it makes me feel incredibly sad that my younger daughter cried and said she didn't want to grow up and now is having to deal with all this. I feel like I've let her down. Like its not what she expected or wanted it to be and that feels like my job, to somehow change what it is or at least what can be done to help.
Both the girls have had different experiences with their first periods and this highlights how different women are and how different our experiences with periods are. Eldest daughter had a pretty text book first period and has managed fine ever since, she has taken it all in her stride and whilst she suffers with some pain, its nothing that hasn't been managed with paracetamol. Youngest daughter had a first period that lasted for 16 days and was very heavy. Normal towels are not suited very well to an 11 year olds underwear so that's where the lil-lets teen towels come into their own but they are not capable of dealing with a heavy period.
How can only one company out of all the companies that make sanitary products have designed towels for teenagers? She isn't even a teenager yet and if the average age is 12 then why is no-one designing sanitary products for pre-teens???
Maybe I will have to design my own.. I've poured all of this out now, out of my head but I'm not done. I'm so far from not done but I have no idea where exactly to begin.