Health Care >> Teen health care >> Puberty

  Puberty

 

Between the ages of 10 and 16, your body is transformed. Your breasts and hips become rounded, you develop pubic hair and underarm hair and at around the age of 11 and 15, you start to have periods. Thus it is important for every girl to understand what is happening to her body and what are the changes that are going through internally coz the more you understand about your body the better it will be to cope up with puberty.

Changes that take place in your body

Your body has a primary sexual organ and a secondary sexual organ. Your primary sexual organs are your ovaries, your fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and your vagina. These are your organs that are responsible in producing babies. With the advance of your adolescence your ovaries begin to produce eggs, which thus makes you fertile capable of having babies.

During puberty, the female hormones produced by the ovaries change the shape of a girl from child to woman. In this phase your nipples start to bud, your pubic and underarm hair start to appear. Your breasts begin to develop rapidly with the areola becoming swollen and the nipples projecting out. More fat start depositing on your hips, breasts and things. In contrast to broadening hips and breasts, your waist begins to look slender and distinct. Thus these changes are broadly grouped into secondary sexual organs.

Menstruation

The age at which menstruation begins can not be anticipated, but it is often hereditary. However today the average age of starting your periods is 11 years. The menstrual cycle lasts on average of 28 days, but anything between 28 to 33 days is considered normal. Every month your ovaries produce eggs and on the 14th day of your cycle (the first day of any cycle is counted as the day when you start to menstruate), the sac in the ovary containing the egg ruptures and the egg is released. The egg travels from here into the fallopian tubes. If the eggs are not fertilised by sperm, which meet the egg there, the egg dies and your ovaries stop producing female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.

Progesterone causes the lining of the uterus to become thicker in preparation to receive the fertilised egg. If fertilisation and conception do not occur, your egg dies and the ovaries stop producing female hormones which results in breakdown of the lining of the uterus, which have been thickened to receive the fertilised egg. Both the lining and the egg are flushed out of the body that is why you experience bleeding. This usually lasts for 3 to 7 days.

During this period progesterone also makes the beasts swell and prepares the glands to produce milk in case fertilisation occurs. That is why before periods your breasts may feel heavy and sore and your nipples may tingle. Progesterone also affects the skin and as a result of which many girls have pimples in the week before menstruation. At the same time progesterone has an effect on vaginal discharge. In the first half of the monthly cycle it is clear, thin and elastic while later on due to progesterone it becomes thick, sticky and opaque, with a different colour. All these changes are normal and if it develops a bad odour please consult your doctor.

Your first periods

When you have periods for the first time, they are not usually bright red and thick as you might think. It is rather scanty, brown in colour and your periods will be hardly regular. So don't worry if you have irregular periods. It will normally take a year or more to get regular periods. As a sanitary protection you can use pads which are available in the market. It is generally said that unmarried girls should not use tampons which is a myth. There is no reason why you shouldn't use a tampons if you wish to. If you have any problems with your menstruation please refer our section on Menstruation problems.

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