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Responsible teen sexuality - and what they don't teach you in sex education at school


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Puberty for girls

Hitting puberty

Doctors and scientists alike agree. The biggest change your body goes through is not from being a baby to a child but from a child to an adult - in adolescence and puberty. Adolescence is more of a general term for the maturing of body and mind - how attitudes and behaviour changes, as well as all the complicated biological stuff. Puberty refers to the physical and chemical changes that take place.

It can be an unsettling period of your life. Everyone develops at their own biologically timed pace and in their own unique way. Shapes and sizes, of breasts, for example, are determined by genes from parents. Height and skin and eye colour are the same. We are also affected by the way in which we grow up, by what and how much we eat too. Metabolism also steps in and controls such factors as weight gain. Each person's metabolism is different - that's why some people, irritating as it is, can eat all they want and still not put on weight (high metabolism) whereas another person's weight can increase rapidly when they eat relatively little (low metabolism).

The changes

During puberty, your periods will start and the menstrual cycle become gradually regular. [see Periods]

Other physical changes also take place. All this happens when chemicals from a gland in the brain called the pituitary gland release hormones called oestrogen and progesterone.

The breasts will begin to swell and you will likely want to wear a bra. Nipples and the surrounding areoles may get bigger and more sensitive, pubic hair will form and sometimes hair under the armpits will appear. The waist becomes less bony and more curvy, hips broaden and the voice can deepen slightly. You will begin to sweat more. Spots may develop on the face due to certain oils in the skin. [See Hygiene]

Sounds like a lot to take in and deal with? Yep. But don't worry: it's all about moving from being a child to being a woman - and that's a good thing.

Girls and boys - differences beyond the obvious

Girls generally tend to mature faster than boys, both physically and mentally. Growth spurts usually occur at a younger age among girls than boys. That is why a lot of you will find yourself towering above the other boys in the class at about 13 or 14, but they will catch up (and often overtake!) eventually.

Your changing body will also be switching your mind to thoughts about sex. Take pleasure in such thoughts. Enjoy flirting with people you like. However, we do not recommend you try to take things too far too quickly.

Question MarkQuick Tips!
What do you want?

Not sure if you're doing the right thing - or if you're pushing things too far?

So ask. You don't need to make a big speech. 'Should I?' will often cover it - with a gesture




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