Puberty. Gahh! Reading the word makes you freak out a little, right? We get it – cos we’ve been there ourselves! We pinky promise with the facts and our tips and tricks, this is a chapter you’ll be ready to flick to.
So, what exactly is puberty?
Puberty is the phase whereby our body goes through a whole heap of changes to transition to adulthood. For us girls, the changes during puberty are all focused on preparing our bodies to one day have babies! (Crazy huh!). Some of these physical changes during puberty include growing breasts, our hips widening and a monthly egg cycle. AKA a period!
When will I go through puberty?
Puberty in girls may begin somewhere between the ages of 8 and 16. Specifically it is kicked off when our ovaries first release oestrogen (pronounced ‘east-ro-gen’). Puberty usually last 2 years, but can take as long as 5 years for all the changes to occur.
The reproductive system
To understand puberty in girls, we need to understand the female reproductive system. The organs that make up this system are the vagina, uterus (womb), fallopian tubes and ovaries:
- Vagina – this is where babies come out of and penises go into! It is a canal that’s around 7.5 cm long.
- Uterus – where babies grow! The uterus is a muscular organ, shaped like an upside down pear. Its lining is called the endometrium, while the neck of the uterus is called the cervix.
- Fallopian tubes – these tubes begin from each of the ovaries and extend to the womb. Their role is to carry the egg (ovum) from the ovary to the womb.
- Ovaries – two walnut sized glands that contain ova (eggs). Our monthly cycle is the process which allows these eggs to be released.
The monthly cycle
Now you’re across the reproductive organs, you’re ready for the down low on the monthly cycle. That is, periods! The monthly cycle is where;
- A single egg (called an ‘ovum’) is released from one of your ovaries each month.
- The ovum is sent down the fallopian tube and arrives at the uterus (the place where a baby develops).
- In the uterus, there is a lining of tissue and mucus that has been building up. If the ovum has been fertilised by a male sperm, a baby will start developing here in your uterus.
- Without fertilisation, the lining of the uterus is discarded through your vagina – and that’s called menstruation or more commonly: a period!
A complete menstrual cycle usually takes 28 days on average, but when you first get your period it can be ALL over the shop! You might have one period, then another 2 weeks later and then not have one for a couple of months – this is totally normal and it can take up to a year to regulate. Every female is different, and that’s A-okay! One thing is certain for each and every girl: your body is about to go through a whole lotta changes. But, you can show puberty who’s #boss by knowing what is coming…
The physical “signs” of puberty to look out for;
- Your breasts will grow, and they may be a little tender
- Your hips will get wider and body will grow taller
- Hair will grow around you pubic area and underarms, and the hair on your legs and arms will darken
- You sweat more and it’s a bit smelly
- Your skin gets more oily and you may notice pimples on your face, back or chest
- The skin outside your vagina (called your ‘labia’) will grow and become pinker in colour
- You’ll notice a clear or whitish fluid begin to appear on your undies. This is called discharge.
If this discharge starts to become darker or brown in colour, then your period is around the corner! Once your period has begun, the physical symptoms you may experience are:
- Periods pain! This will feel like cramps just a few centimetres above your pubic area (nope, it wasn’t what you ate!).
- Pre-Menstrual Stress (known as ‘PMS’), are symptoms that hit just before your period. These are mostly commonly moodiness, food cravings, bloating and bowel problems (yup, constipation and diarrhoea).
The emotional changes you can expect:
Emotional changes can sometimes sneak up on you and start before the physical signs of puberty have made themselves known. You may find that you are:
- Feeling all the #FEELS & swinging from mood to mood
- Starting to have a sexual interest in other people
- Your energy levels and sleep patterns are out of whack
- Feeling self-conscious about your changing body and appearance
- Feeling a greater sense of self or feeling more sensitive than usual.
Keeping it squeaky clean during puberty:
During puberty, your hormones go into OVERDRIVE which causes more sweat, more oil and more hair #gah! Mix this all together, and the result can get a *little* smelly. To keep you smelling and feeling fresh, we’d recommend:
- Regular showers
- Using an antiperspirant deodorant every day. Note ladies; this is different to your Impulse deodorant, which is essentially a pleasant spray to keep your underarms smelling fresh. An antiperspirant deodorant contains ingredients that work to reduce the amount of sweat released. When sweat is mixed with the bacteria on our skin, things get smelly, so reducing the amount of sweat is the way to go!
- Asking mum to pick you up some skin care products designed for teens
- If your period has started, it can be very irregular in the first year, so always keep a couple of Libra pads and liners on hand at all times so you’re well prepared! Our Libra Girl range is a great option, as it’s sized and designed specifically for smaller bodies.
If you’re feeling self-conscious about the hair growing on your legs and underarms, you might be ready to start shaving! This is a personal decision, so have a chat to your mum about how to shave safely and if you’re ready to start.
Tips & tricks to keep you smiling through the puberty blues:
Puberty can be a rollercoaster ride – and staying positive is half the battle! So here are some simple tips to help you through it;
- Keep a diary! This is not only a great way to keep track of your emotions and how you’re feeling, but can also be a SUPER helpful way of tracking your period and getting to know your cycle once it arrives.
- Exercise: Yes, you might feel like blobbing on the couch, but exercise produces endorphins (also known as ‘happy hormones’) which will have you feeling WAY better both physically and emotionally. Promise!
- Eat well: You may want to load up on junk and sugar when you’re feeling *meh*, but filling your plate with fruits, veggies and whole grains will make a huge difference to both your head space, and your skin!
- Destress: make sure to take some time out to chillax. Listen to music, read a good book, take a walk, colour in, catch up on some Netflix – whatever it is that helps you unwind!
- Getting those ZZZs: Lack of quality shut eye can make your mood swings worse and affect physical and emotional changes, so definitely don’t skimp out on this! Reduce your screen time one hour before bedtime, and try and keep to a consistent routine.
- A hot water bottle: for when period pain strikes! The heat significantly eases the pain from period cramps.
Feeling prepped? Most of all girl, just listen to your body, observe the changes and talk it out with your mum, family member, or even your girlfriends. They’re going through the SAME thing! If you have ANY questions, you’re welcome to ‘Ask Gemmah’ – she’ll talk it out with you, girl to girl.
Anything else? Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.