P is for Periods and Puberty!
Starting your periods can be an awkward and confusing time. Your body is changing and this can feel overwhelming but we’re here to help with some information and useful resources that will help you to learn more about what’s happening to your body.
Puberty can start at different ages, the average age for girls is 11, (12 for boys), but it can start anytime between about 8 and 13. The NHS says you don’t need to worry if puberty doesn’t start between these ages but if it started before 8 or hasn’t started by around 14 then it would be a good idea to have a chat with your GP. Puberty can affect people in different ways. There’s no such thing as normal!
During puberty you’ll start to notice a lot of changes in your body. While you might feel strange about these changes, you really don’t need to worry. These changes are perfectly normal and they happen to everyone- so don’t feel like you’re alone.
Breasts, spots and fluids!
The first signs of puberty is usually when your breast begin to develop. Hair will begin growing under your arms and your pubic area and you’ll start to sweat. This is all perfectly normal at this stage although it can make some people feel unclean, which isn’t a nice feeling. Try and take a shower every day and carry deodorant with you, when you feel sweaty you can use it.
Spots are also an unwelcome result of puberty unfortunately. Make sure you wash your face well as this will help, perhaps try some different face washes created for spot prone skin. If you feel you are suffering from severe acne then you should talk to your GP who may be able to prescribe special face washes or medicine.
If you notice some white or clear discharge in your underwear, which doesn’t have a strong or unpleasant smell, then this too is perfectly normal, it your body’s way of protecting your vagina from infection.
You shouldn’t feel awkward or embarrassed to talk about periods, it’s totally natural and most women have been through it. Starting your periods usually means that your body is capable of making a baby.
It’s very likely that your parent, guardian or school has already talked to you about periods and what to expect, but starting your period can still feel a bit scary no matter how prepared you are. Talking about it with someone will help. It will probably feel easier to talk to a female family member, as they will have been through the same changes. If you feel too embarrassed to bring it up then you could try writing a note and giving it to them, telling them how you’re feeling about all these changes.
If you’re body is changing and you’re going through puberty then it might be a good idea to start carrying a sanitary towel in your bag so that you’re ready for your period to start wherever you are. A towel might be best to use to begin with but you can move on to tampons or menstrual cups as you start to feel comfortable with it. Periods can last between 3 and 7 days and once your body has got into a regular pattern you’ll have a period every 28 to 30 days usually. This page on the NHS site has some really great advice about periods, leaking accidents, whether to use towels, tampons or cups etc.
You are perfectly normal
Remember that you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about any of the changes you’re going through. These changes are all down to the hormones in your body, they are all perfectly normal and most people have, or will, experience it.
You are not alone in all this, and many girls your age will be feeling the same as you. Remember there’s always someone to talk to if you need advice whether that’s at home, at school, youth club, or somewhere else. You can even pick up the phone, text or IM Meic to talk to an advisor anonymously.
If you have any questions about puberty then this Girls and Puberty Q&A on the NHS site might have the answers.
Childline has some great information about puberty on their website too like what happens and what to expect during this time. They also have a page looking specifically at periods with lots of great tips.
If you’re a boy and would like to know more about puberty then check out the Childline page Puberty for Boys.
If you need to talk to someone about periods, puberty or anything else you’re worried or confused about, then contact Meic to talk to a friendly advisor.
Meic is an information and advocacy helpline for children and young people aged 0-25 in Wales. We are open 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. You can contact us free on the phone (080880 23456), text message (84001) or online chat.