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What is a Normal Period?

It is normal for your child to experience some cramping and bloating before or during their period.

Introduction

Everyone’s period is different. Your child’s period may be different to their sister’s or mother’s period. It can also change as they grow older. There are, however, a few key things that are signs of a healthy period. These include:

  • bleeding that lasts between 3-7 days
  • period blood that is bright red, dark red or brown
  • period blood that is thin and watery or thick and blobby
  • losing around 2-3 tablespoons of blood
  • some cramps and bloating

It is normal for your child to experience some cramping and bloating before or during their period. Using over the counter pain medication (e.g. paracetamol) and hot water bottles to help reduce the pain can make a big difference to your child’s ability to manage their period.

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While everybody’s period is different, it can be good to talk to a doctor if your child is:

  • bleeding through pads and clothing even though they’re changing their pads regularly
  • passing blood clots larger than a 50-cent coin
  • having to change pads and tampons throughout the night
  • having to change their pad or tampon every hour
  • unable to leave home on the heaviest days
  • bleeding for more than 7 days
  • experiencing lots of pain
  • having irregular and unpredictable periods

When people first start their periods they are often irregular. If after 6 months they are still irregular, it can be good to see a doctor.

It can also be good to talk to a doctor if your child’s period appears to be affecting their mental health.

Many of these symptoms are treatable. Seeking medical help to reduce these symptoms can greatly improve your child’s quality of life and ability to manage their period. Medication, including some types of hormonal contraception, may be prescribed as way to reduce or manage some of these symptoms.

This is a question that parents ask us sometimes when they are concerned about their child’s ability to manage their own period. It’s OK to be concerned.

However, with education and support, many people with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder can manage their period successfully. There are times, however, that medication, including hormonal contraceptive methods, can be prescribed to help a person manage their period.

This may be because their period is particularly long, heavy or painful, or to help with premenstrual tension or mood swings.

If this is a concern for you and your child, you should speak to your doctor for advice.

However, when considering options to assist your child to manage their period, it is important that they are involved in the decision making process as much as possible. Providing your child with easy read information, pictures and resources can help them to learn about their body and the options available to help manage their period. For more information on supporting decision making, Go to Supporting Decision Making page.

Conversation Starters

Your period seems like it hurts a lot. Would you like to talk to a doctor about how to make it hurt less? We can go together if you like?
Sometimes it can be hard to know when your period is going to start. We can talk to a doctor about medication to help your period come around the same time each month. Would you like that?
I have noticed that you seem to be bleeding a lot when you have your period. Is it uncomfortable? Sometimes a doctor can give you something to help you bleed less when you have a period. Would you like to talk to a doctor about that?

Strategies for you to try

Dealing with period pain

Period pain can not only cause discomfort to your child but can result in some frustrated behaviours. Talk to your child about period pain. Explain that their tummy might hurt around the time of their period. Encourage them to tell you if they are experiencing pain let them know that you can help to make the pain go away. If your child uses non-verbal communication it can help to include a pain symbol on their communication board or device.

If you are considering giving your child pain medication it can be good to speak with a doctor first. Some pain medication can react with prescription medication so it is good to check with a doctor and get a recommendation for the most effective pain medication for your child.

Track your child’s menstrual cycle

Encourage your child to track their own menstrual cycle, or track your child’s menstrual cycle yourself, using a calendar, diary or period tracking app. Not only will this help both of you to keep track of when your child’s period is due, but it can also help both of you to become more aware of changes to your child’s mood and behaviour that happen around the time of their period. Understanding the pattern behind these moods and behaviours can help both of you to prepare for these times and find ways to proactively manage these moods and behaviours.

normal periods, painful periods

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Introduction to puberty for girls
What is a Normal Period?

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