Why does it all have to be so hard? I have enough on my plate right now after leaving home and now problems down there! I’m just not sure that everything is normal. I know I’m circumcised so I guess that may affect my size. What is the right size penis anyway? I’m going to have to talk to someone but who will even listen?
Still no period! I know I’m not pregnant ‘cause I haven’t had sex in six months. So what’s going on? I’ve been getting my periods since I was 12, so you’d think that they would come regularly by now. One of the girls at the shelter said that stress and even not eating well can affect your period, so I guess that could be the reason. But what if there’s something really wrong with me?
- Want more independence
- Having stronger feelings of wanting to feel liked and fit in
- Friendships become more important
- Friends and friendship groups may change
- Peers and media have greater influence on values and behaviors
- Sometimes feeling lonely and confused
- Thinking more about appearance
- Becoming more self-conscious
- Mood swings
- Starting to have sexual thoughts and feelings
- May get crushes and become interested in having a romantic partner (boyfriend, girlfriend)
- Expectations from and about parents and school may change
- Thinking more about the future
- Self care and living skills
- Self-esteem and body image
- Relationships, communication and boundaries
- Values and identity development
- Management of emotions
- Risk taking
- Connections to community and health supports
- Growing taller
- Having temporary period of increased awkwardness/clumsiness
- Voice changes
- Skin and hair getting oily
- Pimples, blackheads, acne
- Increase in the amount and courseness of body hair (legs, underarms, chest, back)
- Genital hair growth (pubic hair)
- Increase in sweating, especially feet and armpits
- Changes to body odor
- Breasts changes (may include swelling, tenderness, temporary or permanent development)
- Lasting breast development
- Hip widening
- Increase in vaginal fluid
- Vaginal development
As the body matures, it becomes more important for youth to get to know what is normal for all parts of their body and where to go if they notice changes. This includes getting to know what their breasts and genitals look like and checking them regularly. It is important to see a health care provider if a person notices any sores, lumps, rash, irritation, unusual discharge, foul smell in any part of the body, including the genitals, if it hurts or bleeds to pee or if they are feeling pain or are having other concerning symptoms.
Yearly check-ups continue to be an important part of healthy development throughout life. Puberty is a good time for parents and professionals to teach youth about:
Increased sweat and oil production as well as changing hormones can cause changes in body odor. It can also result in blocked pores on the face and body that can lead to pimples, zits and acne and can make the hair look very oily. For adolescents to look and feel their best, it is important that they:
Some people use antiperspirant or deodorant to deal with armpit sweat and smell. Some people do not. They may use baking soda, cornstarch or just wash their armpits regularly.
Increased body hair is managed differently by different people, families, cultures and faiths. For example, in some cultures, body hair is removed regularly; in others, body hair is left in place. Body hair removal is not needed for hygiene or health reasons. If a youth chooses to remove body hair, it is important that they learn safe ways to do so. This is especially true for pubic hair removal.
During puberty, testicles grow and begin to make to sperm. Sperm is a sex cell that, when joined with an egg, can create a pregnancy. Sperm is stored in the epididymis, a tube-like structure at the back of the testicles.
Around the same time, the penis starts to grow and gets more erections.Many people wonder about penis size, partly because media tends to exaggerate both penis size and the importance of penis size. It is important that youth know that penis size is not related to the ability to receive or give sexual pleasure or create a pregnancy. The penis continues to develop throughout puberty. In adulthood, the average penis size is around 5″ when erect. Penises come in many shapes and sizes. Everyone is different, so a penis that is larger or smaller is still normal. Using pills, creams, or devices to enlarge the penis can cause serious harm and are not recommended for anyone, especially youth.
An erection is when the penis fills with blood and becomes hard. This allows for some types of sex. Sometimes erections happen when a person has a sexy thought or feeling, or the genital area is touched. Sometimes erections happen unexpectedly, like at school or during sports. Baggy clothes, sitting down and wearing appropriate sports equipment can all help hide an erection. Staying calm and thinking about other things can help the erection go away more quickly.
Sometimes when a person has an erection, if they masturbate, they may ejaculate. Ejaculation is when semen is released from the penis. Semen is made when the sperm from the epididymis is joined with special fluids from the prostate and seminal vesicles. Semen is a sticky, whitish fluid. About a teaspoon of semen is ejaculated.
People often get erections at night when they are sleeping. Many people have an erection when they wake up and will have to wait for the erection to go away before they can urinate (pee). Sometimes people ejaculate when they are sleeping. This is called a nocturnal emission or having a wet dream. If someone has a wet dream, it is important to wash bedding or pajamas the next day if semen got onto them. Learning how to do laundry can help with managing wet dreams.
When puberty starts, the vagina can start to make more vaginal fluid or vaginal discharge. This normal body process helps the body keep the vagina clean and healthy. Vaginal fluid can be clear or whitish; slippery, sticky or even a bit creamy. The amount and consistency changes slightly throughout the month. Significant changes in color, smell, amount or texture can be the sign of a problem, so if a person notices that, it is important for them to talk to a health care provider. When a person is having a sexy thought or feeling, vaginal fluid increases.
People are born with all the eggs (ova) they will ever have. These are stored in the ovaries. During puberty, hormones trigger the ovaries to mature a few of the eggs. While this is happening, the lining of the uterus builds up with blood and tissue. Once mature, the ovaries release one or more mature eggs into the fallopian tube. This is called ovulation. If that egg is fertilized by a sperm, the fertilized egg would travel to the uterus and implant into the built up lining. If that egg is not fertilized, it dissolves in the fallopian tube, triggering the lining to shed from the uterus through the vagina. This is called having a period, or menstruation.
This whole process is called the menstrual cycle. People usually start their first menstrual cycle sometime between the ages of 8 and 16. The time it takes to go through the cycle is measured from the first day of the period to the first day of the next period. This usually takes between 20 and 40 days. The period part of the menstrual cycle usually lasts 3-7 days. People go through the menstrual cycle and get periods until they are about age 45-55. Then, they stop getting periods and are in menopause.
Having a first period is a sign that a person is now releasing mature eggs and is a reminder that the body is now capable of becoming pregnant. Getting other signs of puberty, like increased vaginal discharge, breast changes and pubic hair growth, usually shows that the person is getting close to having their first period. These other signs are a good reminder for the person to start carrying a pad in preparation.
Most people feel and act the same when they have their period as when they don’t have their period. People can exercise, shower/bathe, and go to school when they have their period. If they use a tampon or menstrual cup instead of a pad, they can swim during their period. Someone can choose what menstrual supplies they feel most comfortable with.
Some people have minor body changes before or during their period, like light cramping, mild headaches, tender breasts or a bit of bloating. Stress, diet, weight loss or gain, birth control and pregnancy can all affect the menstrual cycle as well. Healthy living strategies like getting enough rest, stress management and regular exercise can reduce uncomfortable symptoms of periods. For some people, periods can be painful and more difficult to manage. Difficult periods can be a sign of a problem.
- Severe headaches or nausea
- Periods that last more than 7 days
- Changing a pad or tampon every 1 to 2 hours or have lots of blood clots
- Bleeding between periods
- Missing a period when sexually active or missing several periods when not sexually active
- First period before age 8 or not having a period by age 16