If you're the parent of an adolescent daughter, you might notice that she's spending more time in the bathroom behind a locked door than she did in the past. This really isn't unusual as there are a number of reasons why adolescent girls might be logging in extra hours in the restroom. Checking in with you teen can help you determine whether she's simply doing some extra primping or if there's a reason for concern.
During puberty, young women begin menstruation cycles that can result in extra bathroom time. In addition to mastering tasks such as changing sanitary pads or inserting tampons, girls might experience cramps and diarrhea, which might merit additional bathroom time. Since warm baths can often help ease menstrual cramps, your daughter might be soaking away discomfort or taking extra showers because she's worried about odors related to her period. Talking with her about safe and appropriate menstrual care can help ease her concerns and avoid health problems. For example, if she's not properly inserting tampons, it can cause discomfort or tearing.
Urinary tract infections occur frequently among young girls, especially if they're sexually active or are not cleaning themselves appropriately after using the toilet. If your teen has a UTI, she might use the bathroom more frequently, since this condition often involves frequent urination. Bacteria from inappropriate tampon use, infections related to certain contraceptive devices, or sexually transmitted diseases might also be the cause of the extended bathroom time. If you daughter is worried that she might be pregnant, she might spend extra time in the bathroom as well. Girls suffering from a UTI or a sexually transmitted disease, as well as a pregnant adolescent, should receive medical attention. Discuss medical concerns directly with your daughter if you suspect that she's sexual active during puberty.
During puberty, girls notice increased hair growth on their bodies, particularly on the underarms, groin and legs. Hair removal activities might explain increased bathroom time for adolescents during this stage. Waxing, hair removal creams and shaving are often time-consuming processes, especially when a girl is first learning how to perform them safely. You should also consider that perhaps your daughter started plucking her eyebrows, which can take time. You should discuss safe techniques for removing unwanted body hair with her to avoid cuts, burns, or rashes.
Girls might spend additional time in the bathroom for the simple sake of spending time alone or getting to know their own bodies. Playing with makeup, experimenting with hairstyles, painting their fingernails or toenails and gazing in the mirror are fairly common adolescent activities. While there’s no real harm in playing dress-up, discourage sharing eye makeup with others and discuss safety when using electric hairstyling tools near water in the sink or bathtub.
Families frustrated with sharing a bathroom can arrange a schedule and agree to certain rules, such as not occupying the bathroom during the busy morning hours with activities like using hot rollers or painting toenails. Installing a vanity or mirror in your daughter’s bedroom might also free up the bathroom. If you have concerns that extra bathroom time might signal body issues -- with activities such as inducing vomiting or standing on the scale -- it might be time to talk with a therapist or family doctor.