It’s common to hear that girls are getting their periods earlier than they were when we were at school. Today, the average young lady starts her period at 12 years of age, but parents should be preparing any time from 10 years, according to the NHS.
It’s a very exciting time, and one to be celebrated, but it can also be a bit tricky to manage. If you speak to mums of tweens, they’ll tell you that Hong Kong’s long school days and humid weather need to be taken into consideration when starting and managing periods.
Like so many other area of our lives, the experience of being a teenager has changed in the last few decades. One great change has been the way young ladies (and their mums) are tackling periods. Many of today’s teens are using period pants, an alternative to traditional sanitary pads.
What are period pants?
Period pants consist of bikini or full-brief underwear with a removable, recyclable, super-absorbent cotton pad built in to the gusset. They’re machine-washable, much better for the environment (think of how many pads and tampons we use in a lifetime), and way more user-friendly for girls when they’re starting out.
One way girls are using period pants is as a backup for their first period. One Hong Kong expat mum shares her experience: “My daughter has them in her school bag for when the day arrives. I feel relaxed knowing if she gets her period at school, it will be easy – she’ll just change her underwear. She won’t be dealing with pads and all the hassles that come with them.”
Another mum explains, “A friend told me about them and they sounded ideal for my daughter who had just started her period and was finding pads stressful at school. My daughter wears them a few days before her period is due, so she can relax knowing she’s fully protected. Equally, when she does have her period, she’s good for the whole day without any leaks, mess or embarrassment.”
Girls who experience heavy periods, especially those who find heavy periods difficult to deal with and confronting, may also find these pants helpful. A mum shares her experience: “For my daughter, heavy days were messy and a challenge to deal with. School is the main problem – it’s a long day to keep clean and fresh, especially when they first start.” Together, they’ve devised a solution that involves period pants and helps her daughter feel more in control.
What about the practical side?
Mums new to the concept of period pants will likely be asking – what about the practical side of period underwear that needs to be washed? We asked one mum how it’s working in their house: “The deal is that she rinses them out herself before putting them in the laundry – so far, it’s working well!” she said. It’s a big responsibility, but mums claim the benefits for teens – feeling more secure, more in control and less self-conscious – outweigh the effort.
If you’re interested in trying this option with your daughter, period pants are available from a few online retailers. If you’d like to support a local business, try Hong Kong-based retailer LiveZero.
See more in our Teens section:
This article first appeared in the April/May 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!