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?
- Girls’ growth spurt usually occurs between ages 9 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 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.
Why Is It Happening?
The pituitary gland (a small pea-shaped gland at the base of the brain) sends out hormones (chemical signals in the bloodstream) to stimulate the growth of the sex glands. This triggers all the body changes you will experience. In girls the sex glands are the ovaries. The ovaries now begin to produce ova cells (ovum – singular).
Once a month, one of the ovaries will release a mature ovum. This is called ovulation. Meanwhile, the uterus prepares a rich lining of blood and mucous. This lining will nourish the ovum if it is fertilized. (Fertilisation can only occur if a man and woman have had sexual intercourse)
If the ovum is not fertilised, the lining of blood and mucous membrane passes out of the body through the vagina. This is called menstruation (or period) and occurs about 2 weeks after ovulation.
After the period is finished, the cycle continues again through ovulation and menstruation.
When a girl experiences her first period she knows she is fertile and has the potential to help create a baby.
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.
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!
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 your periods begin it means your body is capable of becoming pregnant, but sexual intercourse 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. Magazines 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 in pairing up 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.
- Know what’s happening to your body and this time of adolescence will be easier.
- 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!