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There’s more to it than periods.
You might be menstruating but that’s not the end of your story, not according to your body, anyway. Puberty generally starts two to three years before your period arrives and for some people, the signs of puberty can be noticed from the age of eight upwards. But when do all these changes stop? When are you considered to be grown up?
Here, we take a look at what you can expect over the course of the next few years.
You Get Taller
Your body continues to lengthen into your late teens. You generally reach your final height by the age of 20.
Your Breasts Grow
Breast development can take anything from three to 10 years to be complete so don’t be surprised if your boobs continue to grow, becoming rounder and fuller in shape, right into your late teens or early twenties.
Once your period arrives, your ovaries will start to produce the hormone, progesterone. Progesterone sends a signal to the brain that triggers the milk glands in your breasts to develop. You may not see any change to your breasts whilst this is happening but it’s pretty important for breast development.
You may also be starting to see a change to the nipple and areola as these are often the last parts of your breast to develop.
Your Reproductive System Develops
Puberty is a time of dramatic change in size, shape and function of all of the reproductive organs. Wondering about that abdominal pain? The sometimes barely-there tummy ache that continues between your periods? That’s your reproductive organs continuing to mature. Here’s what that means:
You Get Smarter (And Sleepier, Too)
Your brain is pretty busy during your adolescent years too, responding to the increases in both sex and growth hormones. And (yawn), it’s not uncommon for these hormones to change your sleeping pattern, too. You may find you’re not at all tired at bedtime but then overtired in the morning. Don’t be alarmed if you struggle to get up or feel motivated: this is a perfectly normal experience during adolescence. On the plus side, here are some of the things your brain will become much better at in your teenage years. Expect better brain management in:
And what does this mean for you? You may start to see a more mature approach to the way you solve problems. You might also find that you use new or advanced vocabulary to articulate how you’re feeling or to explain an idea, either verbally or in your writing. Hello, new-and-improved you.
Your Emotions Can Be Up and Down
Sigh. The journey from childhood to adulthood can start and end between the ages of 12-25, which is why you may find the proverbial emotional rollercoaster of your teens continuing into your twenties. If you find that your moods or emotions are out of control and getting to the point where they disrupt your everyday life, chat to your guardian about possibly seeking out professional help from someone who can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms for better emotional wellbeing.
Most tampons are made from a cotton like material, which is compressed into a small cylinder shape. Tampons are worn inside your vagina to absorb menstrual fluid. There are two different types of tampon, known as applicator and non-applicator and these give you a choice about how you insert them.
Menstrual blood is not the same as the blood you see when you cut yourself elsewhere on the body. Menstrual fluid lines the walls of your uterus and is called endometrium; this is a mixture of blood, tissue cells and natural secretions from the vagina and cervix and is not toxic or harmful in any way.
On average you can menstruate for up to 40 years, with 13 periods each year, that’s a whopping 520 periods in a lifetime! So now you can see why it’s important to understand your menstrual cycle and use the correct products for your flow.
It can look like there is an awful lot of blood being lost but don't worry! You’ll be surprised to learn that for people with an average menstrual flow, no more than 2.5 tablespoons or an egg cup full of blood is released each month.
Menstrual fluid is not always red in colour – it can vary from very light brown to dark red (almost black) and this is perfectly normal. Your period may be lighter in colour at the start or you may only experience a lighter colour on the last couple of days... It all depends on your individual flow!
You may have heard the rumour that periods stop in water due to water pressure, or depending on how cold the water is and therefore you don’t need to use any protection at all. This is NOT TRUE, menstrual fluid is released when the muscles surrounding your uterus contract and they can do this anywhere and anytime, even in water. So make sure you're always protected - a tampon is the best option because it's worn internally.
Don’t flush your used tampon down the loo! Instead roll it up in tissue and pop it in a bin in the toilets or with other household waste.
Breast development can start from the age of 7 -15 with the average being around 9-13, so don’t worry if your friends start developing or wearing bras before you, we are all different and it’s not a competition!
Got a question you’ve been too embarrassed to ask? Wondering if what you are experiencing when starting your period?
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OK, so you’ve got a lot going on right now! You’re juggling the hormonal and physical changes of puberty with so many other things; school, family, friends, dating… That’s a lot.Find out more