Growing up is hard. I’m sure you’ve heard adults, and your teachers and/or your family will try and tell you what you should expect from growing up. However, often they don’t want to talk about it, for one reason or another. Lots of us can only find our information from magazines, or these days, online, about the things our parents were too embarrassed to talk about. For girls, it’s especially difficult, because periods can start from a very young age. Boys, if you’re reading this, please keep going – it’s important you understand this stuff too, as if you try and learn what a girl your age is going through you’ll be an all-around better friend.
For girls, the most obvious physical change they will experience during puberty is the start of their periods, or menstrual cycle as it’s medically called. Seeing as they can start as young as 8 or 9, it’s important you know about this now. You may have heard of them before, but if you haven’t, basically it’s when a woman’s womb refreshes itself in order to make her ready for a baby (fertilisation). This involves dumping the old uterus lining, and this will often come out with some blood. But where does it go? Well, it comes out through a small hole near where girls go for a wee called the vagina. To stop it from going on their clothes, most women wear a pad on their underpants called a sanitary towel. This soaks up the blood, and works like a giant cotton bud.
When these periods first start, they are a bit irregular, but as a girl grows older she will be able to calculate on the calendar when her periods will be. If they are too heavy or too painful, don’t be frightened to see a doctor, as they can give you advice and medicine to help. If they are painful, you can put a covered hot water bottle over the area to soothe it, and take some painkillers to reduce it.
A girl’s personality may also change, as periods can have an emotional impact. Becoming a teenager is even more difficult now, because lots of them (and fully grown adult women and men) can suffer from “body image” problems. This is due to the fact that TV, newspapers, magazines etc. make us feel like there’s something wrong with us if we have stomach fat, or are not a certain shape. Though it’s easier said than done, all you have to remember is that as long as you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, you have a healthy lifestyle. You may never look like the model in the picture, but it’s also important to remember that the photograph has been edited to remove all imperfections. In shorter words, you do you! Haters gonna hate, etc.
Growing up IS really hard, and those adults were right! You aren’t doing anything wrong if you are finding it a little too much – open up to someone you trust about it. And don’t let anybody tell you who you should be, how you should act, or what you should look like. Your development is nobody else’s business.
Image credit: http://www.living-well.org/sexual-health/contraception-and-birth-control/