Your Changing Body
When you find your body beginning to grow and change, you may have a few questions. Where did those come from? What happens next? What’s normal?
But don’t worry. You’ll probably be surprised to find out just how normal you are. The human body is pretty amazing. It knows exactly what to do and when to do it.
The stage in life when an individual becomes physiologically capable of reproducing is called puberty. This time in your life in which puberty occurs is called adolescence. Somewhere between the ages of 8 and 14, your body starts changing on the outside. But changes on the inside have already been in the works, preparing your body for puberty. The chemicals in the body that produce these changes are called hormones. Your brain releases hormones into the blood, where they travel to different areas of your body and cause growth and development.
Though the changes that take place vary from girl to girl, take comfort in knowing that they all happen to every girl. Here are the changes you can expect to see:
Sometime during puberty, you will develop breasts. Like all other changes, this one will happen at various times for different girls. Some start as early as 8 or 9 years of age. Others may not begin to develop breasts until they are 14 or 15. Most girls fall somewhere in the middle, but it’s all normal. There is no “right” or “best” rate of development, and there is no “perfect” size. You may have already begun developing, but here’s what you can expect:
- Before you start puberty, you just have nipples. Otherwise, your breasts are flat.
- Next, you will develop breast buds, which means that your breasts will rise slightly, and the areola (the pinkish area around each nipple) will grow wider and possibly darker.
- As the breasts and the areolas continue to grow, the areolas and nipples may stick out from the rest of the breast. As growth continues, only the nipple continues to stick out. (Note: Sometimes a nipple does not stick out, but goes into the breast and is called an inverted nipple. An inverted nipple may form on one breast or both. In general, this is normal, but if the nipple suddenly becomes inverted, see your doctor, just to be sure.) You might notice that one breast is developing faster than the other. That’s normal, too. They will probably even out in time, but if they don’t, that’s nothing to worry about; many women’s breasts don’t match each other exactly.
Before puberty your hair is mostly on your head. But as puberty begins, you grow pubic hair. This is the hair that is between your legs and covers your external genitalia. Boys also grow hair in the pubic area as they become men. The first hairs are straight and soft. As you develop, the hair grows in thicker and curlier. As with everything else about puberty, pubic hair growth and pattern vary from girl to girl.
- Pubic hair may grow in varying thicknesses.
- Usually it is in the shape of an upside-down triangle and starts a few inches below your belly button.
- The hair may grow up a little toward your belly button and out onto your inner thighs.
- You will also grow hair under your arms and thicker hair on your legs. You don’t have to remove leg or underarm hair for purposes of hygiene, but some girls and women choose to do so. Get the go-ahead from your parent or guardian before you shave.
Physical Growth Spurts
You’ll start to grow taller about the time your breasts begin to develop. This growth spurt almost brings you up to your full height. During this time, you could grow up to six inches in a year. Other areas of your body will change, too. Your waist and hips will become more defined, and you may gain a little weight.
Pimples are no fun, and they always seem to show up at the very worst times. But they’re just another part of puberty. Some girls may develop acne, often characterized by multiple pimples that keep coming back. Sometimes acne breakouts are linked to your period. Acne is normal and natural (which doesn’t make it any more fun). Luckily, there are many ways to minimize it. When puberty begins, oil glands in your skin wake up and go into overdrive. No big surprise that these glands are found in the places where we often get pimples: face, chest, back and shoulders. When these glands go to work, they start sending oil to pores on your skin’s surface. When pores get clogged with a combination of oil, dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria, a pimple forms.
What Can I Do About Acne?
Unless you are genetically more likely to develop acne, you can improve the situation.
- Wash your face twice a day with mild soap and water. Excessive washing may make the condition worse.
- Many other over-the-counter products are effective at fighting pimples. Ask your doctor about these products.
- Keep your hair off your face. Your hair has natural oils that can transfer onto your skin.
- Avoid touching your face a lot. Dirt and bacteria on your hands can rub into your skin.
- Avoid oily makeup or lotion.
- Drink lots of water.
- If you find your skin problems to be very bad, or if none of the tips help, ask your parent or guardian to take you to see a skin doctor (a dermatologist).
If you found this helpful, these articles and forums might help, too:
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