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. Of course not every human wants to reproduce but our bodies haven’t evolved to catch up with our brains. Puberty is when the hormones responsible for sexual reproduction kick-start into action and cause changes that prepare your body for being able to have a baby.

Not all the changes in your body will be apparent – some are going on inside your body. Some changes will happen slowly, others will happen suddenly. This is what happens to most girls, in no particular order:

  • Your ovaries grow (these are two small organs about the size of an almond in your abdomen; they produce eggs and sex hormones)
  • You will probably start to sweat more and your skin and hair will become more greasy
  • You may develop spots on your face and sometimes on your back and chest
  • At some point you’ll have a growth spurt and your arms, legs, hands and feet may grow at different rates
  • Your face will start to look more grown-up as the bones in your face grow
  • Hair will start to grow around your vulva, in your armpits, on your arms and legs
  • You may have discharge from your vagina (this sticky, whitish fluid helps to keep your vagina healthy and is quite normal)
  • Your hips will grow wider and your body may begin to look more curvy
  • Your breasts and nipples will gradually grow fuller
  • Your periods start – this can happen as early as age nine or as late as 15, but usually happens around 12.