Puberty is time of great change and growth for young women. Girls experience changes to their skin, hair, growing breasts, mood swings, and or course the start of their menses. All these changes don’t happen at once but over the course of several months to several years. Puberty is time that a person starts the shift from child to adult. For girls, this is also the time their bodies develop the ability to have a baby. Usually girls begin to experience these changes between the ages of 8-13 but some girls can start this process later.
Starting your period — or menstruation — is a major part of puberty and means the female body now can make a baby. It also means lots of other changes are going on throughout the month.
Girls usually get their periods between ages 12 and 14, but it can happen years before or after that. Some girls find getting their periods very exciting, and others feel uncomfortable about it. But lots of women come to see their periods as a good sign that their bodies are healthy and working the way they’re supposed to.
When you have your period, a bloody fluid made up of blood and tissue comes out of your vagina each month. This fluid was built up lining in the uterus which grows as the female body prepares for a pregnancy. If a woman does not get pregnant, this lining sheds, which is your period.
Periods are caused by natural body chemicals, or hormones, which signal the ovaries to release one egg about once a month. Most months, the egg and the lining of your uterus come out of your vagina as your period. This is part of your menstrual cycle. This cycle is what makes it possible for a woman to have a baby. During sexual intercourse, the egg can get fertilized by a male’s sperm and then attach to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) and grow into a baby. To learn more about the menstrual cycle, click here.
Periods can be light, heavy, or in between. Sometimes menstrual blood also will be different shades of red, from light to dark or contain some dark clumps, all of which are normal. Your period may be heavy the first or second day and then decrease on later days. Periods usually last between three and five days. It is normal to have periods that are shorter or longer, up to seven days. It is also normal if your periods are not the same number of days each month, especially in the first years.
Keep in mind that your periods may not be regular at first. You may have two in one month, or have a month without a period at all. Also, at first your period may last just a couple of days in some months and up to a week in other months. Periods will become more regular in time.
If you think your period is too heavy or have other concerns about your period, click on the Period Problems section.
Being “ready” is different for everyone and things can get complicated when partners aren’t on the same page. However, BOTH partners need to feel completely ready before having sex.
How do you know when the two of you are ready?
Being in a healthy relationship that makes you happy, safe and comfortable is a good place to start! Also, be sure you’re both comfortable talking about sex — if you aren’t comfortable just talking about sex, it probably means that you aren’t quite ready to start having sex. Your first time can be awkward, embarrassing, beautiful and terrible…all at once!
So, it’s important to have an open conversation with your partner so you don’t have to deal with all those feelings alone.
During puberty, young teens not only experience changes to their body, but to their minds as well. Some of your experiences have to do with the physical changes of this age, including shifts in your hormones and a brain that’s developing just like your body is. Others have to do with social pressures–worries about your changing looks, the demands of school, and the pressure to fit in.
Your emotions may become stronger and more intense. One minute a person may feel on top of the world, and the next minute they may feel down in the dumps. Feeling really sad can be difficult. If this happens, talking with parents or other adults you trust for support can be helpful.
A person may also have more sexual thoughts and urges. Girls and boys probably start feeling sexually or romantically attracted to guys, girls, or both. Some teens find that they’re turned on (horny) a lot. As they get older, these feelings probably won’t be as strong. Some teens choose to masturbate to release sexual feelings, and others just wait for the feelings to pass. It is normal to masturbate in private for both girls and boys. This can help teens better understand their bodies before they engage in sexual relationships later in their lives.
Puberty can be very confusing. Remember: although emotions may seem out of control, changing moods are a normal part of growing up. Everyone goes through puberty, so talking with an adult, like a parent, can help sort out a person’s feelings. Older siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, or grandparents can be helpful, too.
Even though this can be a stressful time, it’s also a great chance to figure out who you are, what you care about, and how to value and respect the person you’re becoming.