Adolescence, teenage years, puberty…This stage of life has many names and you probably have a lot of questions about it. What does puberty mean? When does it start? What is normal about puberty? Puberty invokes big emotions and new experiences. Changes occurring in your body can also change how you feel inside your skin. You can also experience emotional turmoil. Old, familiar things may feel boring and you can lose yourself in new interests. Adolescence is a fun and exciting, but also sometimes challenging path towards adulthood.
Puberty means the transformation from a girl into a woman and from a boy into a man. In other words, it starts when the person starts to physically develop into an adult. Typically, puberty starts at the age of 9–14 years. There is no one exact year, time or place when the first signs of puberty should arrive. You have no reason to worry if your friends get their first period before you do or if you need to start wearing a bra before your friends. Be patient with puberty and the changes it brings. Your body and mind are trying to adjust to the new hormones, and everyone experiences puberty differently.
One of the first signs of puberty can be a growth spurt. Jeans that fit you perfectly in the previous summer may now be too short. In girls, the pelvic bone widens and the body shape becomes more feminine. In addition, breasts start to develop and the nipples can enlarge and become darker in colour. Part of puberty is also the emergence of hair in armpits and genital areas. Some days, you may notice signs of a light-coloured discharge in your panties. This is called vaginal discharge and is perfectly normal. For girls, one of the milestones of puberty is their first period. Adjusting to the menstrual cycle takes time and learning to understand your body signs. Getting the first period also tells that the woman is ready to reproduce and can become pregnant. In addition to physical changes, you will also experience mental development and start to think about new things. The sexual development starts and you’ll become more interested in your appearance.
These new developments may feel intimidating, but in the end puberty is an exciting journey towards adulthood. You should pack for the trip a positive, trusting and curious attitude towards your own body and a few adults, such as your parents or a school nurse, to whom you can turn if you have any questions.