Physical Growth of Girls
At around the age of 8, a year or so before puberty for most girls, the pelvic bones begin to grow and fat is deposited on the breasts, hips and thighs. In the adolescent phase, which generally starts between 10 and 16 years, girls’ nipples start to bud, and pubic and underarm hair appears. At this stage, the genital organs develop and periods start. More fat is deposited on your hips, breasts and thighs. By the time you are 18 or so, bone growth will be complete and you will have reached your adult height.
The speed at which your body changes depends on many factors and it varies enormously from individual to individual, so don’t worry if your friends are developing more quickly or more slowly than you.
Armpit Hair: At about 14 years, hair starts to grow in the armpits and the sweat glands become active.
Skin: The hormone androgen affects the skin, causing more oil to be secreted. Pimples may appear.
Waist: In contrast to broadening hips and breasts, the waist begins to look much more slender and defined.
Pubic Hair: hair first appears at the age of 12 years old and then gradually becomes thicker and curlier, spreading up to form a triangle shape. It may not match the color of the hair on your head at first.
Thighs: The inner and outer thighs develop pads of fat from about the age of 14, giving the body a more curvaceous, womanly outline.
Hips: As the pelvic bones grow, the hips begin to broaden. Fat is then laid down on the hips, helping to give the body its characteristic female shape.
Take Good Care of Adolescent Girls
Really great-looking skin is a big plus and one the most important assets. So whether you were born with a perfect complexion, or one that is not so good, you should make an effort to take care of it properly. When you are going through adolescence, your body is trying to adjust to a change in hormone balance, and this affects your skin.
Pimples: Never squeeze pimples because this spreads the infection into the deeper layers of the skin. You can squeeze uninflated blackheads after a hot bath or shower, when all the pores are open, but afterwards apply a small dab of antiseptic cream to keep the skin clear.
Don’t use over the counter pimple cream, and if your skin is very oily, refrain from using an abrasive cleanser – this simply spreads the bacteria.
Acne: Nearly every teenager has acne at some stage. During adolescence, high levels of sex hormones are produced, which lead to the production of large quantities of sebum in the skin, sebum is an irritant that may block the pores, causing a purplish lump that may become infected and form a pustule.
An occasional pimple is normal at this age, but severe acne does tend to scar, so ask your doctor for advice on how to clear it. there are many good acne preparations available, but the best need a prescription.
Breast Development in Puberty
Breasts come in every shape and size. Remember that it’s not true that boys prefer girls with big breasts or that small breasts mean you can’t feed a baby. It’s normal for your breasts to feel tender as they grow during puberty, and in the week before your period. You may find that wearing a bra helps to relieve any tenderness. A good bra will support heavy breasts and stop them from wobbling.
There is no need to wear stiff, heavy bras with under-wiring. Today there are plenty on the market specially designed for girls who lead active lives, who need support and who want to look as natural as possible. Cotton is the best fabric to choose if you can, particularly if you play a lot of sport. But there are good bras made of synthetic fabrics, too.
Periods Problems in Puberty
Girls often experience actual physical distress during their periods, the causes of which have been investigated and treatment are available. Painful periods can be quite disabling, needing time off school and work.
Dysmenorrhea means menstrual cramps, which can range from very mild to completely disabling. Once thought to be a neurotic condition, it is now known that it’s all in our hormones – not in our heads. A girl who has very painful periods either makes too much of the hormone prostaglandin or her uterus is more sensitive than usual to normal amounts to it.
Drugs containing anti-prostaglandins such as ibuprofen, which get to the root of the problem and bring relief in more than 80 percent of cases, are on the market in the United States, Britain and most European countries. The use of anti-prostaglandin has proved to be enormously helpful to many girls. It can shorten the time during which you feel pain and this can reduce how long you have to stay in bed so that you can continue working at your studies or doing your job. Start taking medication the day before your period.
Sharing Worries during Puberty
Many girls worry about how their bodies look and feel, and find their growing sexual awareness disturbing. The supermodels used in fashion magazines promote an unrealistic ideal image of how girls should look, and it can be hard if you think that you don’t match this idea. Girls may feel that they lack control over their bodies. From time to time they also feel out of tune with their families, school mates, friends and especially their boyfriends.
• You mother is the best person for advice but if you can’t talk to her, ask another older female relative who is sympathetic.
• Talk to your biology teacher, school nurse or counsellor or see your doctor, and read as many books as you can.
• Compare notes with your best friend. Nearly everyone wonders if other girls are like them and the answer is often a reassuring “yes”. Most girls experience the same anxiety.