How Knowledge of Menarche Impacts the Experience of Menstruation
The experience of menarche including the manner in which preparation occurs can significantly influence not only how menstruation is understood, but also how future menstruation is experienced.10 With unpreparedness, the unpredictability of menarche can generate severe psychological experiences sometimes causing girls to feel shameful which can create reticence around the topic.10 The influence of media as well as educational campaigns regarding menstruation causes lasting effects of girls’ understanding of menstruation which makes it vital to ensure that knowledge is communicated in a positive manner. Mothers (or guardians) who develop an open relationship and dialogue pertaining to menstruation with their daughters can greatly assist them in generating a healthy attitude.
Additionally, adequate preparation for menarche has been linked to a positive experience of menarche which can facilitate an improved body image, subsequently enhancing self esteem in later life.11 In contrast, a negative attitude towards menstruation has been linked to difficult menstrual symptoms (such as pre-menstrual syndrome).11 This accentuates the necessity of nurturing a positive attitude in girls through frank and accurate information. Perhaps if menstruation was portrayed as a normal and healthy function of female reproduction rather than shrouded in secrecy, girls might incorporate a more inclusive attitude while celebrating their womanhood.
In conclusion, it is evident that constructive preparation for menarche may impact the life-long experience of menstruation. Ensuring that communication is open and healthy may foster future improvements in self esteem and body image. Age appropriate language combined with an open conversation could allow for clarification and further discussion. Facilitating a positive attitude towards the female body and reproductive system could even impact the physiological symptoms of menstruation while improving self respect. Embracing the miraculous functioning of the female reproductive system in Western culture may go a long way in steering cultural attitudes towards the unequivocal acceptance of healthy sexual and reproductive functioning.
Thank you for taking the time to read my 4 part series on how to prepare your daughter for menstruation.
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- Rembeck GI, Moller M, Gunnarsson RK. Attitudes and feelings towards menstruation and womanhood in girls at menarche. Acta Paediatr. 2006;95(6):707-14. Epub 2006/06/07.
- Oinas E. Medicalisation by whom? Accounts of menstruation conveyed by young women and medical experts in medical advisory columns. Sociology of Health & Illness. 1998;20(1):52-70.
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- Rembeck GI, Gunnarsson RK. Improving pre- and postmenarcheal 12-year-old girls’ attitudes toward menstruation. Health care for women international. 2004;25(7):680-98. Epub 2004/10/19.
- Stubbs ML. Cultural perceptions and practices around menarche and adolescent menstruation in the United States. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2008;1135:58-66. Epub 2008/06/25.
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- Farage MA, Miller KW, Davis A. Cultural aspects of menstruation and menstrual hygiene in adolescents. Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011;6(2):14.
- McPherson ME, Korfine L. Menstruation across time: menarche, menstrual attitudes, experiences, and behaviors. Women’s health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health. 2004;14(6):193-200. Epub 2004/12/14.