Puberty - Common questions from girls

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Puberty is when your body starts to change as you move from being a kid to an adult. Some people go through puberty before the rest of their friends. Others grow later and have to wait and watch their classmates change. Either way, it's important to remember that everyone goes through it.

When do girls start puberty? Girls usually start puberty between the ages of 9 and 11 years old, although some start a little sooner and others a little later. Girls often start puberty before boys.

What happens to a girl's body during puberty? There are many different changes that happen when girls go through puberty. For example, your breasts will start to change in size and shape, your hips will start to widen, and pubic hair will begin to grow on your private parts and under your arms. Also your clitoris will grow a little too, and the inner lips of your vulva will become more prominent. (For more information on these body parts check out some anatomy).

During puberty, girls' vulva become more sensitive. The vulva can swell when a girl or woman is sexually excited through sexual thoughts, touching themselves, or through sexual activity with another person.

What's a period? At some point during puberty, you will begin to get your period. Periods are part of a monthly cycle that most healthy women's bodies go through. The blood and other fluids that come out of a girl'۪s or women'۪s vagina during her period is usually heaviest during the first few days. Some women get cramps before or during their periods. If you have a lot of cramping, you can get help from your health care provider.

What is discharge? Discharge is liquid that comes out of the vagina. It can be clear, white, yellow, or greenish, and it can leave a stain on your underwear. Noticing discharge during puberty is perfectly normal.

Normal discharge is the result of our uterus cleaning itself. Girls shouldn't worry about it unless the vulva becomes itchy or irritated. If that happens, girls should see a health care provider.

How does puberty affect my emotions, moods, and thoughts? During puberty many teenagers start to see the world in different ways. It'۪s normal to have more sexual thoughts, and you might realize that you are attracted to guys, girls, or maybe both. Also you might start to feel things more intensely. One minute you may feel on top of the world, and the next minute you might feel down in the dumps.

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was adapted from PlannedParenthood.org, a website that provides education about reproductive and sexual health.

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