-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Some parents may be
reluctant to talk to their daughters about puberty, but it's
important that they do, an expert says.
"Most girls enter puberty without much education on the topic," Dr. Akua Afriyie-Gray, an obstetrician at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill. "Parents should be proactive about talking to their daughter about puberty so that she knows what to expect when her body begins to change."
Parents need to be prepared and have their talk ready when the
time comes for them to discuss puberty -- the physical changes that
precede sexual maturity -- with their daughter, Afriyie-Gray said
in a Loyola news release.
Your daughter might not say anything to you when she begins
experiencing puberty-related changes to her body, so you need to
watch for these changes and let her know what to expect.
Puberty typically starts around age 8 or 9 with hair development
under the arms and in the pubic area. Breast development usually
occurs next at age 9 or 10 followed by menstruation, which begins
on average at age 12. Puberty typically takes three to four years
Parents should ask their daughter if her friends have started
wearing a bra, menstruating or shaving. This takes the focus off
your child and may provide a good opening for talking about your
daughter's body and the changes she may be experiencing,
Explain that puberty is a natural process that all girls
experience. Emphasize that there is no need for her to be
embarrassed, but be sensitive to what she is ready to discuss,
Afriyie-Gray said. Answer any questions she may have and correct
any misconceptions she may have about puberty.
Tell your daughter what products are available for menstruation
and that she can keep doing her normal activities when she has her
period. It's also important to make sure your daughter understands
that the start of menstruation means she can become pregnant,
Parents who feel uncomfortable talking with their daughter about
puberty should make an appointment for her to see a pediatrician or
gynecologist who specializes in treating children and teens.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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