4teenz has put together some info for you about the changes that happen to all girls around the time of life called puberty or adolescence. Some of this stuff you’ll know already and some may be new for you.
Have you checked out the mini clip on this site called All about you before you were born? It shows how from the time you began growing inside your mother, your body has experienced many changes. In fact we never stop changing!
Puberty is a time of radical growth and change too. For girls, puberty is all about moving into young womanhood – preparing your body for adult life. Puberty brings changes to your mind and emotions too. You will discover more about yourself and other people, and what’s important to you.
Change can sometimes seem scary! It’s important to have correct information and a trusted adult to talk to when you need support or advice.
Everyone goes through these changes, but no one will experience them quite like you.
FOR YOU ARE UNIQUE!
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Yes they happen at puberty and yes they are important BUT growing up is much more than body changes. Remember, you are more than what you look like – don’t let advertisers & social media tell you who you are.
So what does happen at puberty?
- Girls’ growth spurt usually occurs between ages 8 and 14, earlier than boys.
- Besides growing taller and heavier, the shape of your body changes as fat deposits build up on hips, thighs and breasts. This gives the female shape women naturally have. These changes are normal and attractive, not a sign of being overweight!
- Body hair is normal! At puberty it appears under the arms and in the pubic area.
- Skin and hair – increased oil secretions in the skin cause pimples and blackheads to appear on face and back, and can make hair oilier.
- Body odour is more noticeable with increased perspiration.
- Your monthly cycle called menstruation (periods) begins and continues until you are about 50.
Why Is It Happening?
The pituitary gland at the base of the brain sends out new hormones to stimulate growth of the sex glands (ovaries) to produce ova cells. Once a month one of the ovaries releases a mature ovum. This is called ovulation. From the time a girl ovulates, she is fertile and has the potential to help create a baby.
A baby can’t start unless an ovum has been fertilised by a sperm during sexual intercourse but each month the uterus prepares to grow a baby, just in case.
A rich lining of blood and mucous is built up to nourish a fertilised ovum. If the ovum is not fertilised, the lining passes out of the body through the vagina. This is called menstruation and occurs about two weeks after ovulation.
After the period is finished, the cycle continues through ovulation and menstruation.
The Menstrual Cycle
Feeling Fresh … Feeling Good!
Good hygiene is most important at this time. Shower or bath daily and remember – clean hair, nails and teeth too.
New moods and feelings can be triggered by the physical changes inside you. All those hormones that are changing you from a child to an adult affect your emotions as well.
You may feel –
- self-conscious (everyone is looking at me!)
- rebellious (they can’t tell me what to do all the time!)
- sexual interest (he’s pretty cute!)
- lonely (sometimes I feel like I don’t belong anywhere)
- or maybe just a lot of ups and downs.
You may easily become impatient or irritable with your family, or with your friends. Sometimes you’ll want to be with your friends, other times with your family. Often you’ll want to take time out on your own.
The grown-ups in your life will understand that these are signs you are growing up. And part of growing up is accepting your emotions and taking control.
Girls vary greatly in their development as fat deposits begin to alter the body shape to that of a woman, so it doesn’t help to compare and worry about size and shape. We all have our own body clock and your changes will occur when the time is right for you.
The developing breast bud feels like a flat disc, the size of a 5c piece behind the nipple. Breasts may feel tender from time to time.
It’s the personal body clock again. Perhaps your mother also got her period early – why not ask her and talk about how you feel? Some girls do start their periods much earlier than others and it can feel awkward being the one who is much taller or more developed in shape. Your friends will catch up to you in time, in fact you may stop growing and others may shoot past you!
Your first period will occur about a year after the breasts have begun to develop. Other signs that the time is close are the appearance of a whitish discharge or a slight brown staining on your undies.
Don’t worry – the first period begins with just some slight spotting or staining, so you won’t be caught out. As periods settle into a pattern you will notice they always begin slowly. The first couple of days and nights are the heaviest, then it reduces to spotting again. About ½ cup of fluid is lost altogether each period.
If you don’t have anything with you, ask a teacher – they all know about periods and your school will have supplies of pads. In an emergency you can always fold a wad of tissues or toilet paper and put it inside your undies until you get home! Get yourself organised with a small supply of pads or tampons in a little pencil case that you can easily take with you to the toilets.
It’s easier to begin with pads which fit inside your underwear. Later on you may like to switch to tampons (worn internally). A combination of both can work well. Here’s an example –
1.Your period is due but you don’t know exactly which day it will come – wear a thin liner to protect your undies just in case.
2.Your period starts – wear a super pad (most absorbent) while the flow is heaviest, or tampons plus a liner for backup in case the tampon leaks.
3. At nighttime wear an overnight pad (tampons are not recommended for overnight use as they should be changed every 3 – 4 hours)
4. After day 2 your period starts to slow down – wear a thinner pad or continue with tampons and a liner.
5. Your period has slowed after day 4 or 5 to just a bit of spotting – a liner is enough.
Things to remember about pads and tampons –
Pads and tampons are usually changed every 3-4 hours depending on the flow, or just whenever you go to the toilet.
NEVER put pads or tampons down the toilet – they will block the system – huge mess!!! Wrap them in toilet paper and put in bin or in sanitary disposal unit if there’s one in the toilet cubicle.
Handle them with clean hands and wash hands well afterwards.
Tummy cramps are common and can be a bit of a pain (bad pun, sorry!). They occur because the uterus is contracting to dislodge the lining. Try these ideas – hot water bottle or heat pack on tummy; gentle exercise such as walking, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and drink extra water to prevent constipation, mild pain relief medication. Severe cramps may call for a medical opinion. Some girls also feel pain at ovulation.
Maybe mum just doesn’t realize you’re thinking about these things yet. Sometimes parents forget how fast you are growing up but they do know all about it because they’ve been there too! Most parents are happy to talk about these things because they know it’s important. You may both be a little embarrassed at first but that feeling will pass. You could open up the conversation by showing her some of the stuff on this website – there’s a section for parents too.
When the breasts begin to develop they can feel itchy and tender. The breast bud feels like a flat disc, the size of a 5c piece, behind the nipple.
It may take a year or so for your cycle to regulate, and it is normal to skip a period now and again. Keeping track of your periods in a diary or calendar is helpful. Talk over any concerns with a trusted adult.
You will notice the appearance of a whitish discharge coming from your vagina and appearing on your undies. This mucous will vary during your cycle from white and sticky to wet and stretchy. Vaginal mucous is completely normal and related to your fertility. If it feels uncomfortable you may like to wear a liner in your undies on certain days to absorb the mucous. If you feel an itching discomfort and see a yellow discharge you may have a common condition called ‘thrush’. It is caused by an overgrowth of yeast and is easily treated. Talk to mum or an older sister about getting something from the chemist for this.
No, having a period does not mean you are pregnant. When you first ovulate it means your body is capable of becoming pregnant, but sexual intercourse or just close genital contact has to take place before that can happen. Sexual intercourse is something to think about when you are adult, not a teenager. Sometimes friends don’t have all the right info. Always check with a trusted adult if you are worried about something.
Menstrual blood washes out of clothes easily if soaked in cold water as soon as possible.
Some girls do feel tense or get easily upset around this time. Some feel extra hungry; some feel bloated. Sometimes extra pimples pop up. If you’re feeling grumpy, find something to do to lift your mood – cuddle up with a favourite book, ring your best friend, play with the dog. Remember, having a period doesn’t mean you are sick. You can keep up all your usual sports and activities if you wish, even swimming if you use tampons.
A lot of teenagers are confused about masturbation. It’s normal to be curious about your body and touching yourself does create pleasurable feelings. Babies and toddlers do it as they explore their bodies and then they grow out of it – it’s a stage. Experimenting with masturbation as a teenager is also just a stage which you’ll probably grow out of as you move into real relationships.
Websites can often give the message that everyone’s doing it all the time and you’re abnormal if you don’t. That can create a bit of pressure and it certainly isn’t true.
Some people can get caught in a habit of masturbating all the time and can feel isolated and out of control.
Sometimes there may be other worries behind it – maybe sexual abuse, depression or a habit with pornography.
If you are worried about these things or feel like masturbation is controlling you, talk to someone like a school counsellor or parent.
Not at all. When you hit puberty your interest in the opposite sex begins to change (those hormones at work), but usually girls mature younger and get interested earlier than guys. Don’t worry if you’re not that interested yet. Pairing off too soon can mean you miss out on fun just hanging out with your friends. Doing stuff in groups is a good way to learn how to behave around boys and practise talking to them. It can be a wise decision to hang back a bit and be fussy about what sort of person you eventually want to go with.
Awesome work! You are so right to stand up for yourself. Hopefully this guy will soon work out that this is not a cool way to act towards girls. You might feel a bit sad at first to lose him but it’s better to stick up for what is good for you. You rock, sister!!!!!
It’s unlucky that you saw that stuff (porn) but unfortunately it’s everywhere on the internet. Porn tells lies about what girls are for and what boys should be like but I’m sure you know we’re all worth more than that. The reason it’s hard to get those pictures out of your mind is because porn acts on your brain to make you want to see more and more. It’s great that you realise this and want to stay safe in the future. Be awesome – say no, click away and tell an adult.
The topic of ‘gender dysphoria’ is very popular. Gender dysphoria means feeling as though you are actually the opposite gender to the one assigned to you at birth, that is, a boy believing he is actually female, or a girl believing she is actually male. There is concern that people who feel this way may become unhappy enough to self harm. So schools and parents are encouraged to help them transition to the gender of their choice as quickly as possible. Making quick decisions like this is not always the answer. Many children who question their gender change their minds again later on.
Because there is so much media attention on gender transitioning, it seems as though the issue is widespread. In fact, true gender dysphoria is very rare, around 1% of the population.
So, for the vast majority of children, this is simply not an issue of concern. Don’t worry, you know whether you are a boy or a girl.
Unfortunately some young people are feeling pressured to question and experiment with their own gender ‘just in case’. In some ways it has become a popular thing to try out. Try not to get caught up in this. It may lead to more confusion and depression in the end.
For the small minority who are affected by true gender dysphoria, yes, they need lots of support as they move through a difficult time. If someone at your school is going through this, then your job is just to treat them as you would any other kid – with respect and kindness.
The search for identity is a normal part of adolescence for everyone. We all need to work out the question ‘who am I?’ – what do I believe, what sort of life do I want to lead, what’s important to me, etc. Give yourself time to move through adolescence safely while you work this out.
Always ask for help from a trusted adult if you are feeling worried, confused or pressured about anything to do with growing up.
- Know what’s happening to your body and this time of adolescence will be easier.
- Think carefully about what magazine, advertising, social media and online images and messages are telling you about how you should look, act and treat others. Be your own person. Value yourself. Respect others.
- Talk to someone when you need support.
- Form your own network of trusted adults who can help you work things out when you feel confused … under pressure … unsafe … or when you need correct information.
You’re starting a time of preparation for your body and your mind.
You’re accepting more responsibility and learning how to handle your hassles.
You’re a teenager and you’re stepping out!
So relax and accept this time of growing and changing … and enjoy being the unique person you are!
PS. Don’t forget to check out the boys info – it’s good to be informed about what the opposite sex is going through!