Question:

What is the typical age to begin using tampons? My daughter started her period at 10. She's 11 now, but I know she's not ready. She hasn't asked about it either.

EXPERT ANSWER

It is fantastic that you are the kind of mother who is thinking about these issues as she supports her daughter through all these developmental changes! On average, most girls get their period for the first time between the ages of twelve and thirteen. Your daughter may have been one of the first in her class to start her period, and she may need a little extra support and guidance from you as she adjusts.

There aren’t any rules as to when girls are ready to use tampons. Some mothers worry that if their daughter uses a tampon that she will no longer be considered a virgin. This is a myth! The only way a girl “loses” her virginity is by having sexual intercourse.

Using a tampon requires girls to become more familiar and comfortable with their bodies, and some younger teens find it easier to use pads until they adjust to all the changes that are taking place during puberty. Others find tampons very easy and comfortable to use.

I recommend that you talk with your daughter about this issue- she may feel a little shy about bringing it up, and she may have questions about what you have used and about what her options are. You may want to ask her if she has thought about using tampons, and explain to her about how they work. Though she might not be ready to give them a try now, she will know that she can turn to you in the future should she decide she is ready to do so.
MOM ANSWER

I’m not sure there is a “typical” age; I think it all depends on the girl. Some are ready right when their period starts, and some wait until they really feel the need to switch to tampons. When my daughter started her period she had to move right to tampons because she is a figure skater (and those costumes are pretty unforgiving).

There are lots of ways to start the conversation. You could start by discussing the different brands/types of pads available and ask if she’s comfortable with what she’s currently using or would like to try something else. Even though the move to tampons was a necessity for my daughter, I didn’t pressure her. I let her know that the box of tampons was in the bathroom and that it was ok to experiment. If your daughter knows they are available it might be easier for her when she is ready to try them without having to ask you.
PEER ANSWER

I started my period at 10 and began using them that very summer, seeing as how I wanted to be able to go swimming with my friends. It’s really all about her comfort level, if she is ready and willing to give them a try there is a fantastic video on first time tampon use in our Real Answers Education section. She might appreciate the freedom – I did!

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