Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Are tampons safe?

Question: I'm the mother of a 10 1/2 year old and she is getting kind of moody and I think she is beginning to grow pubic hair. I assume she must be maturing early and her period will come soon. So I wanted to know is an 11-year-old too young to use tampons? Should she just use pads? - Rebecca A.

Answer: Dear Rebecca,
The physical and emotional changes that you are describing in your daughter are the result of hormonal changes that occur during PUBERTY. When these changes start to occur and the actual time that menstruation begins depends on many factors including genetics and environment.

Pubic hair is just one of the physical signs of maturing, a normal response to her body's changing hormone levels. The moods that you are describing also are the result of increasing and fluctuating levels of these hormones which cause the emotional ups and downs that most of us are familiar with.

These days, being 10 or 11 years old is really not "early" to be in puberty. I am only guessing that your daughter has been using deodorant for quite some time (one of the first signs of puberty ). You also didn't mention any breast development which usually comes before the appearance of pubic hair.

From what you are describing, it sounds like you have some time before you stock up on any tampons or pads. Any concerns should be discussed with your child's pediatrician.

As far as using tampons, this may be a matter of personal preference. Physically, it may be awkward or even uncomfortable. It also has some health implications such as TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME. Although not very common, cases have been reported when certain bacteria related to the use of tampons caused this potentially serious illness. In my opinion (a personal one), when the time comes, the use of pads at this age may be a better choice. As your daughter matures and shows increasing responsibility for her actions and well being, giving her a choice may be in order. Have open communication with your daughter. Best friends last a lifetime.

Dr. Betti

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    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.