Menarche Toolkit

 

 

Books Books are great to help educate both caregivers and their children. They can be useful for those that don’t quite feel comfortable having frank discussions on matters of puberty and menses. Hopefully a book can start the open discussion of menarche. Not all families will have access to a public library or be able to buy these books. The provider could consider starting a collection to have a lending library in the office.
The Care and Keeping of you: The Body Book For Girls By Valorie Schaefer and Josee Masse, this book explores pubertal changes, including healthy aspects of diet, exercise, and personal hygiene.
Everything a Girl Needs to Know about Her Periods By Jane Feinmann, is an informative and interactive book that explains the menstrual cycle, puberty, and all things related. It includes a calendar to record menstrual cycles.
The Seven Sacred Rites of Menarche: The Spiritual Journey of The Adolescent Girl By Kristi Meisenbach Boylan, writes about the spiritual effect the menarche has on a young woman. This book helps parents navigate this important rite of passage with their daughters, focusing on positive rituals with mothers and daughters.
Celebrating Girls: Nurturing and Empowering our Daughters By Virginia Beane Rutter, offers a wide variety of ways we can promote confidence and self-esteem throughout your daughter’s life.
105 Ways to Celebrate Menstruation By Kami McBride, creatively offers ways to honor menses and empower women.
Products The caregiver could collect a package of products to present to their pre-menarcheal girl as part of opening the discussion on menses. Research shows girls reported not knowing how to properly use products, this package could be used to inform our daughters what products are out there and how they are used. If the mother/caregiver has any personal stories to share about these products, this is a great time for stories.
Pads, cloth vs disposable Pads are available most anywhere and would be a great addition to a menarche package. The caregiver could discuss the pros and cons to using cloth vs disposable pads, if relevant. How a pad is applied and how often they should be changed are all practical information that may get overlooked. While purchasing cloth pads could be expensive, old cotton or flannel fabric could be recycled to fashion cloth menstrual pads. Patterns can easily be found online. A printable pattern is included in the Appendix.
Tampons Though most young women will not likely start off using tampons, it is good to include information on how they are used and different types. Girls may want to know how does an applicator work or what if it’s applicator-free? This is a good time to emphasize the importance of changing or removing tampons regularly (never leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours).
Menstrual cup The caregiver may choose to introduce the menstrual cup. This is a reusable cup, usually made of silicone, which is placed inside the vagina to collect menstrual blood. It can be emptied, cleaned, and reinserted several times per day. Again, this may not be a first choice for a newly menstruating woman, but it’s all about providing information. For a link to a review of brands, see other online resources, below.
Delivery kits Who knew so many were in the business of period delivery kits?!
http://shop.helloflo.com/ Helloflo is a period kit delivery service. The kits may be out of some families’ price range, but there are good ideas in the kit contents. Also has a kit geared towards a girl’s first period.
https://theperiodstore.com/ Another period kit delivery service. I’m pretty sure chocolate is involved, as well as herbal tea, and a small piece of art. Also, this one involves only eco-friendly products, which is nice for the environmentally-minded families, or those worries about potentially toxic chemicals near their daughter’s vagina. Of all kit delivery options, this one has the most to choose from.
http://prelaunch.corawomen.com/refer-a-friend This one features mostly tampon delivery.
http://moxie.com.au/ Moxie delivers out of Australia, but no matter where you are in the world, this site provides some great information on menstruation.
http://www.bepreparedperiod.com/ This site has kits, other products, a blog, and tons of other information. This one also has a link specially dedicated to dads with developing daughters.
Activities and other ideas This is more for the caregiver and daughter. Providers can promote making menarche preparation fun by honoring the menarcheal young woman with a rite of passage that reflects and her individual feelings and wishes.
Discussion Many women reported learning about the biological and physiological aspects of menstruation, but not the physical and socio-cultural aspects. As a provider, or a caregiver, it is important to include a discussion of details regarding how it may feel (from backache and cramps to the physical sensation of bleeding), how long it might last, and how much blood is normal, as well as how it may affect us socially or culturally. Information could be coming in from many different sources, so it’s good to consider what information your young woman already has and where it is lacking. Also, while it is a great idea to honor the menarcheal girl in a ceremony or rite of passage, the research shows the discussions need to be initiated way before the menarche, so the girl feels as prepared as possible.
Party Caregivers can include their daughter and any interested friends in celebrating and honoring her menarche with a dinner, a party, or an outing. These could be themed (there is a great parody of a “first moon party” floating around on the internet, see other online resources), and made to be as intimate or inclusive as the young woman wishes. Some girls may want to eat cake and drink tea and hear all the menarche stories of her mother’s friends and neighbors and some may not. It’s important to find out what type of celebration the girl wants.
Gift Many articles talked about gift-giving, and it is a common way to honor a young girl reaching menarche in many cultures. Other gift ideas to go into a menarche package with menstrual products could include: a hot water bottle or heating pad (for cramps), ibuprofen, or chocolate. Of course, it is still important to have open dialogue and communication, hopefully prior to menarche.
Online resources

 

These are more factual resources with information related to menstruation. Not everyone will have internet access. The provider could visit these sites and print out relevant pages. For families that do have internet access, time could be made to look at some of these together, to spark discussion at a young age.
http://www.girlshealth.gov/body/period/index.html Girlshealth.gov is specifically aimed at girls, and has detailed information about the menstrual cycle, as well as other coming of age issues, such as body, fitness, nutrition, illness and disability, drugs, alcohol and smoking, feelings, relationships, bullying, and safety, future, and environmental health.
http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html

 

Womenshealth.gov has a fact sheet regarding the menstrual cycle and explains clearly, with illustrations, exactly what is menstruation, how it typically presents, problems that can arise, and when to see your doctor.
http://kidshealth.org/kid/grow/body_stuff/menstruation.html

 

The kidshealth.org website has a tab for parents, one for kids, and another for teens, so it is easy to find age-appropriate material. There is an entire section on puberty that has information about boys and girls, bodies, school, drugs, alcohol and smoking, breasts, periods, body hair, and skin problems.
http://www.mum.org/

 

The Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health is an online museum with endless information on menstruation, menarche, menstrual products and women’s health throughout history. This is another great conversation starter, and is also translated in Spanish.
http://www.moltx.org/

 

 

MOLT: The Museum of the Menovulatory Lifetime is another online museum. This website is not updated as often, has a lot of focus on toxic shock syndrome, and may not be suitable for younger girls, but has some ideas that may be useful for brainstorming red party ideas.
http://www.theredweb.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Red Web Foundation: on the bleeding edge of menstrual awareness and education. This site has a plethora of articles and events, and is rich with resources and ideas surrounding menstrual activism, including talking to young women about menarche. Well worth perusing. The resources include many organizations internationally that support young women in developing countries by providing sanitary pads from sustainable materials, and often help empower women through education as well as entrepreneurialism. There is also a red tent section that will inspire ideas for ceremony. If nothing else, check out the recommended resources: http://www.theredweb.org/#!resources/c4fi

 

http://www.menstruationresearch.org/ Society for Menstrual Cycle Research has information and resources to inspire women’s health activism and empower women with knowledge about their bodies. The target audience is adult.
http://crankytown.ca/ A website designed for young women to introduce them to menarche in a fun and spunky way.
Other online resources These are more fun or product-related resources to check out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEcZmT0fiNM This parody “First Moon Party” by hello flo is a great ice-breaker to start the conversation with a patient/daughter about menarche.
http://menstrualcupreviews.net/ A review of 10 top-selling menstrual cups.
http://olddittie.com/

 

Dittie sells tampons and pantie liners, but the site has games and frequently asked questions as well.
http://www.shethinx.com/

 

They now make period panties. These are panties that are designed for women who have periods, and are leak proof. These are expensive, but could be included in a menarche gift box. For every pair sold, funds are sent to a sister company AFRIpads in Uganda, which trains women to sew and sell washable cloth pads (Remember in the literature review how some girls are unable to attend school due to the stigma of menstruation? This helps keep these young women in school).
Other websites

 

 

Tampax, Kotex, and o.b.-tampon websites all have information on tampon insertion, as well as general information on menstruation and menstrual health for families that prefer a different style of learning.
Menstrual cycle tracking apps http://www.livescience.com/51693-best-period-tracking-apps.html

This article compares a few different iphone apps to keep track of your monthly cycle. Check them out and decide which is best for you!