WARNING: If you do not want to read about menstruation, click out now.
DISCLAIMER: I am not endorsing any products nor am I trying to pursuade readers to any particular solution. I am simply relaying our story. If you talk to other moms of teenage girls, you will get many different solutions. And for some, their monthly flow is no big deal.
Since starting this blog, we have received this question most frequently to Sarah's private email address: What do you do about her periods? I have tried to respond to all inquiries but I'm sure there are lots of you with this question that have not asked, so I thought I would just put a post out here.
From the time Sarah was about ten, this was one of my greatest worries. What would happen when... I was most nervous that she would freak out at the sight of the blood. Every so often I would talk to her about it and we had a few books, although they were not very good. Her flow did not start until she was 14, and fortunately at home versus at school. She did not freak out, but rather matter-of-factly came to me and said, "blood in pants." The first few months were very scant and short so we did not encounter any problems, and I was feeling like quite the successful mom. As things progressed, she needed the use of a more substanial pad. She hated this. She was always complaining about them scratching her and trying to adjust them in a not so attractive manner. I tried many different brands, sizes, and styles. None helped ease her discomfort.
Then one day she was at my husband's office and just decided she had enough. So she reached into her pants, tore out the pad, and flung it across the main room. Fortunately, the women in the office are all close friends and love Sarah dearly. However, this did present a challenge, as she could repeat this behavior at school which would clearly not be acceptable. So I started putting her in Depends for school, which she could not pull out without being in the restroom. I truthfully hated this solution, because we had worked so hard to have her look and act like her high school peers, and I was pretty sure that none of the girls were wearing diapers as they walked down the hall.
A few months later, we were at the doctor for her asthma issues. I mentioned to her pediatrian that Sarah was wearing a diaper because she was on her period. He said to me, "Why don't we put her on Depo Provera?" I had never heard of it, so I asked more about it. As soon as he mentioned "birth control" I said "Absolutely not." I was horrified that he would even mention it. Then in his calm, monotone voice he says back to me, "Don't look at it as birthcontrol, look at it as a way of improving Sarah's quality of life. It will cease her periods and she won't have to deal with it anymore." Hmmm....I had to think about that. Now that the topic had been put on the table, we discussed many different options.
It did seem the Depo was the best fit for Sarah. Her first injection went into her right buttock in the usual way we gave her shots at the time: one adult holding her body down, one adult holding her feet down so she would not kick, and the injector. Once a quarter for the first year, we repeated this scene. I always made a point to mention that the reason for the shot, was so that the bleeding doesn't come back to help her make the connection. Shortly after the first year, she started taking the shot without the human restraints and today I rarely go in the room with her. As a matter of fact, her brother drove her to her September appointment and she handled it all by herself.
Sarah has now been on Depo for five years and during this time has had very minor spotting a few times. Each year, we meet with the OB/Gyn doc to re-examine the benefits and talk about potential risks. I do not believe she has experienced any side effects, other than possible weight gain. There are days when I say, "Let's stop the Depo and try again now that she is older." But then I say, "Why?" I do not know if this will be a permanent solution, but for now it seems to be working fine.