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Understand puberty

While you’re busy getting to grips with secondary school, new friendships and more homework, your body is growing and physiologically changing from a child to a woman. This is ‘puberty’ and can make your early teens an unsettling and challenging time. You’ll notice hair starting to grow on your body; your periods will start; your moods may feel a little out of control; you may start to sweat more. It’s all perfectly normal but nevertheless these changes can be worrying.

There are no hard and fast rules about when all this growing and changing will happen, or to what extent. Some girls develop breasts much earlier than others do; some have more body hair than others; some people never have a spot in their life but others have loads. The important thing to remember is that you’re not the only person this is happening to and that everyone is different.

The physical changes during puberty used to be discussed rather secretively – friends might have exchanged snippets of information that wasn’t necessarily correct; mothers may have had an awkward conversation with their daughters – and mental developments were barely acknowledged. It was certainly never discussed in school lessons. Luckily things have improved and schools are now much better at explaining the physical and mental changes that you can expect. There are also some excellent and reliable sources of information.

Please do not feel guilty if you are embarrassed by the changes that are happening to you, or if you don’t feel like discussing them – they are very personal and private. The main thing is not to worry in private. Most things you will experience are perfectly normal and, even if you do not want to talk to anyone, we should be able to reassure you or guide you to useful information. We will also tell you when you should see a doctor. If that is the case, try not to worry.

Your changing body

Puberty – what is it?

We humans tend to think of ourselves as advanced beings but when it comes down to basics, we’re all animals and the main purpose in any animal’s life is to reproduce. (more…)

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Breasts

The development of your breasts is normally one of the first stages of puberty. It can also be one of the most difficult to deal with as it is a physical sign generally (more…)

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Periods

A sign that your body is preparing for the time when you might one day have a baby, a period (also known as menstruation) usually happens once a month. (more…)

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Body hair

Another main sign of puberty is body hair starting to grow in your armpits and between your legs, and the hair on your legs may become thicker and stronger. (more…)

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Sweat and body odour

Most people sweat (or perspire) when they do lots of exercise but when you hit puberty you will probably start to sweat (more…)

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Discharge

Vaginal discharge (or fluid) is perhaps less talked about than periods, but it can surprise or even worry you if you are not prepared. (more…)