Puberty – How Your Body Changes
Your body is changing; your moods may be unpredictable and sometimes hard to explain. Don’t worry. These changes are normal. Our guide to teen health is designed to help you understand the common physical and emotional changes you are going through, and deal responsibly with new personal and social situations you may encounter. These changes are called puberty.
Puberty lasts for several years and marks the life stage when your body is changing from a child to an adult. Hormones help trigger and guide this process. Hormones are natural chemicals in your body that produce gradual physical changes during this time and may also cause emotional changes that can sometimes seem uncontrollable. These changes are common during puberty, and they happen to everyone. Although it may seem that these changes and feelings are out of your control, don’t worry—you’re still you, just the “growing up” version.
Common Physical Changes in Girls
Girls going through puberty often notice physical changes, such as larger breasts, hair growth in new places, acne and changes in the shape of your hips, waste, bottom and thighs. Below are some of the common physical changes you may experience.
Menstrual Periods & PMS
Menstruation is a turning point in your development from a child to a teenager. It’s important to remember that this is natural and something that makes being a woman special.
One of the first changes you will notice are your breasts growing, usually between the ages of eight and 12. Once your breasts start growing, you will most likely want to buy a bra.
Common Social and Emotional Issues
Today’s young women face many emotional and social challenges during puberty. Below are some of the common tough issues you may find, and tips for handling them.
Self Esteem & Peer Pressure
The foundation for positive self-esteem is built at an early age and is influenced by relationships between you and your family. Your feelings about yourself will change as you grow.
Sex & Sexually Transmitted Diseases
When to engage or not engage in sexual relations is one of the most important decisions a person can make. From getting pregnant to becoming infected with an STD, make sure you understand the risks.
Mental Health & Abuse
Overall health means more than simply being in shape and eating properly. Mental health, which includes your thoughts and feelings, is just as important as physical health.
Hair will start to grow under your arms, on your legs and on your pubic area. Shaving your underarms and legs is a personal choice, but talk about it with one of your parents first.
This aggravating condition may be mild (blackheads and whiteheads), moderate (larger inflamed-looking blemishes) or severe (large cysts or nodules). Acne is caused by a build-up of oil, microorganisms and dead skin cells in the hair follicles under the skin.
With a more prevalent preoccupation with appearance and weight in today’s society, girls may be at risk to develop eating disorders.
During your teenage years, it is a good idea to take some risks, like trying new activities or sports. However, some risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking and using drugs have negative effects.
Visiting Your Doctor
Before the onset of puberty, discuss your questions and concerns with your health care professional. It is also a time for you to gather printed material on a variety of health issues, including your menstrual cycle, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).