SEXUALITY: Puberty In Girls
Puberty is a time of many changes. A girl’s body starts changing after about age 8. many girls worry that they are not developing fast enough, or are concerned if they develop before their friends do. Remember, each person has her own timetable. Some girls start puberty early, and some start later.
Most of the changes of puberty are caused by chemicals called “hormones” that the body starts to produce. The main female hormones are estrogen and progesterone.
Breasts start to grow when a girl is between 9 and 13. many girls are concerned about the size and shape of their breasts. Breasts come in many different sizes, so girls shouldn’t worry if theirs are different from their friend’. One breast may grow more quickly than the other; however, they will be about the same size when they finish growing. Pubic and underarm hair will start to grow next.
Menstrual period usually start between the ages of 11 and 15. however, periods can begin as early as 9 and as late as 17.
This is what causes a period: about once a month, a woman’s body gets itself ready for pregnancy. The lining of the womb, or uterus, start to thicken. About 2 weeks later, one of the ovaries releases an egg, or ovum. If sperm from a man’s body does not join with the egg, that is, it is not fertilized, then the thick lining of the uterus is not needed. In about another two weeks, her body gets rid of this lining through the vagina. This is called having a period, or menstruation.
Many women are uncomfortable or have cramps during their periods. Exercise, a heating pad or hot water bottle, and a pain reliever can help. If these ideas don’t work, ask a doctor or school nurse for help.
Periods usually last between 3 and 7 days. They may be longer or shorter, and bleeding may be heavier in some months than in others – especially when you first start having your period. Many things can affect your period, such as stress or sickness or fast weight loss. After a while, most women find that their periods become regular. Once periods are more regular, they happen about every 21 to 35 days, or 3 to 5 weeks.
If a women has intercourse then misses her period, she might be pregnant. If sperm joins with an egg a pregnancy begins. The fertilized egg attaches itself to the thick lining of her uterus and starts to grow. Her body does not get rid of the lining and she does not have a menstrual period.
The female hormones also cause a woman’s vagina to produce a discharge or mucus. This does not hurt or itch or smell bad. However, if you have a discharge that does hurt or itch or smell bad, see your doctor; you might have an infection.
Pimples or acne are a common problem. Some suggestions are to wash with plain soap, not eat foods with lots of fat, not use skin moisturizers, and use lotions with benzoyl peroxide which can be bought without prescription at a drug store. A doctor may also be able to prescribe medication.
Body odour is caused by perspiration. Many people stop it by washing often with regular or deodorant soap and using deodorants.
Girls usually grow quickly between 10 and 13. after their periods start, most grow about another inch or 3 centimeters. Most reach adult height by age 16.
Puberty may be a time of strong sexual feelings and fantasies. These feelings may be confusing or a worry or very pleasant. Daydreaming about kissing or sex, developing a crush, feeling romantic are all normal. Respect your body, respect yourself for what you are today, and demand respect from others.
If you want more information, you can read books on puberty. Or talk with someone you trust. You can call a local planned parenthood organization or Public Health Unit – see References / Resources.