Understanding your growing body
From getting your first period to appreciating breasts that are not the same size, understanding your body can be awkward as it grows and changes. Some girls may ask themselves, “Is there something wrong with me?” if they have not yet had their first period by the age of 19 or if their breasts haven’t developed yet.
Understanding how your growing body works is important because in that way you’ll know what to expect and appreciate it when it works well, but you’ll also realise when something wrong is happening. Remember that no two people are exactly the same, so your experience of going through puberty may be different to someone else. So here is information that can help put you at ease when it comes to your growing body.
Puberty – A Time to Change
You stand in front of a mirror and you realise you’re rounder around your hip area. Your breasts are slightly enlarged and you may have already started your first period. You are going through puberty chomas–which is nature’s way of changing you from a child to a young adult. These changes happen because of a hormone called oestrogen which is mainly responsible for sexual and reproductive development. Let’s look at some of these changes you can expect at puberty.
Most girls may grow slightly taller and gain weight, especially in the first year of puberty. Increased body fat is normal chomas. Oestrogen causes a girl’s body to grow in size and change the shape of the girl’s body because it’s preparing it for having a baby.
Do you often find yourself being irritable for no reason or feeling happy one minute then suddenly feeling down without knowing why? This could be due to you dealing with the constant changes to your body. Pressure to do better at school may also play a part in your mood swings, especially if you are working hard to get into tertiary school.
Developing Breasts and Body Hair
During puberty, your breasts start to develop milk ducts inside, preparing you to breastfeed a baby when you’re older. This is when your breasts may start to grow. One breast may grow quicker than the other one, this is fine chomas, as the other slower one may catch up. You may also start growing hair around your nipples, your nipples can get either dark brown or pink and they also be turned inward or outward. Hair may also grow under your arms, genital area (pubic hair) and sometimes, your upper lip. The hair may also start getting thicker too. All of this is normal chomas. However, if you start growing hair on your chest or chin, you may need to see a doctor as there might be a hormone imbalance that needs to be corrected.
Some girls start their periods at around 9 or 10 while others may start from 16 or 17. If you have not yet started your periods, maybe ask your mum or other female relatives when they started. This may indicate when you will start you periods, but this is not always true. Periods come once a month and usually last between 2 and 8 days. Each month, the lining of the uterus, which consists of blood, thickens to help a fertilized egg grow. When you don’t become pregnant then that lining will shed and blood will come out of your vagina – called menstruation.
Your body may sweat more during puberty and when the sweat is combined with bacteria, like under your arms, it causes body odour. Take regular baths or showers and use antiperspirant to control the odour.
The more you understand how your body works, the better you can take care of it. There’s no reason to feel uncomfortable about your bodies because everyone at some point will go through changes. You are not alone. There are also interesting facts about your growing body that you may find useful. If the changes in your body start affecting your self-confidence, speak to me, a school nurse or counsellor and we can help you see your body differently and learn how to appreciate it.
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