What’s happening to my body?!
Puberty. It’s the time when you start to change from being a child to being an adult. Whether you’re looking forward to it or dreading it, you’re not alone...it happens to everyone. Sure, you’ll go through a lot of body changes during puberty, but you’ll still be YOU (with some important differences).
So what’s going on with your body?
Here are the main body changes during puberty that might already be happening, or will be soon. Usually the changes will happen in this order, but everyone’s different so don’t worry:
Growing really fast
You may grow faster than you did during childhood (it’s called a ‘growth spurt’). First, you may notice your feet and hands getting bigger. Then your arm and leg bones grow, making you taller.
It might be an awkward time until the rest of the body catches up, but not to worry. Once it does, your body will be more proportional. You may gain a bit of weight too, to match the increase in your bone size. Again, don’t panic. It’s a perfectly normal part of growing up!
Your breasts develop in stages. At first you may notice small ’buds’, or swellings under your nipples.
Then your boobs will gradually get bigger and fuller, and might become a bit sore. One breast may grow more than the other at first, but they’ll even out eventually (most women have one boob that’s larger than the other, but it’s usually not a big difference). It’ll take two to three years for your boobs to be fully developed, and your chest size is determined by genetic traits in your family.
Growing body hair
Soon, you’ll start growing hair in your pubic area (the area from your lower stomach to between your legs). Some girls get this before they get boobs. At first, the hair is soft and there’s not much. Later, it’ll grow longer and become a bit curly. Although it starts growing between the legs, it’ll eventually cover your whole pubic area, and may include your upper, inner thighs. This usually takes two to three years. A few months after pubic hair begins to grow, you’ll get hair under your arms.
A more ‘womanly’ shape
As your pelvis (the large bone across your hips) begins to grow, your hips get wider, you start getting boobs, and your waist gets smaller. Basically your body gets softer and more shapely. Some girls gain weight quickly during this time, too.
Your sweat glands get larger and become more active, so you’ll sweat more. This may happen even before you get boobs.
Oily skin and hair
During puberty, the pores in your skin produce more oil, especially on your face, which can cause spots and acne. So you may have to wash your hair and face more often now.
Changes in your genitals
Your outside parts (the vulva) are enclosed by two sets of ‘lips’. The larger lips have hair, while the inner, smaller ones don’t. These increase in size a bit. Again, it’s totally normal. Inside your body, the vagina is getting longer and your uterus is getting bigger.
Discharge in your knickers
Vaginal discharge is fluid your body produces to moisten and cleanse the vagina. Before you start your period, you’ll probably notice yellow or white stains in your knickers. It’s normal, and is a sign that menstruation will probably start in about 6 to 18 months. You could start wearing pantiliners to help protect your knickers.
The vaginal discharge may be heavy or barely noticeable... both are normal. But if you notice a bad smell or you have any pain, soreness, or itching, it may be a sign of infection. So you should see your GP.
Getting your period
For the first two years, your period can be really unpredictable. It typically takes one to two years for regular cycles to develop, so you may not be regular for a while. If you have any concerns, go and see your doctor.