Puberty is the phase during which a person goes from physically being a child into being an adult. Usually, this happens around about the time they become a teenager. It is a time during which there are many physical changes, as well as emotional ups and downs to deal with.
When Does Puberty Start?
Girls tend to enter puberty slightly earlier than boys. Puberty for girls tends to start between the ages of eight and 13. It is not abnormal for puberty to begin earlier or later than this. Research shows that weight is closely linked to puberty, with heavier girls starting puberty at a younger age than lighter ones.1 Body fat percentage is closely tied to menstruation as well.2
What Happens During Puberty?
During puberty, girls begin developing into women. This means that they will start to grow pubic hair and underarm hair. They will start to get taller, and their skin may become slightly oilier. Both girls and boys will find that their sweat glands become more active during puberty.
Most girls will have their first period between two and four years after they start puberty. There is quite a large range of ages for development during puberty. Some girls have their first period at the age of nine, while others may not have a period until they are 15-years-old.3
Women often talk about their monthly period, but it is normal for periods to be irregular for the first couple of years after puberty.4 Some periods may be very light, others may be heavy. Some may last just a couple of days, while others may last seven days or longer.
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Most girls will find that their periods settle into a roughly monthly cycle within three years of beginning to menstruate.
Puberty can be a confusing time for many young women. It is a time when their bodies are changing, and when they are experiencing new emotions because of increased hormone levels in the body. It can be difficult for an individual to cope with these challenges, especially if they are developing faster or more slowly than their peers. Girls can also grow as much as 11 cm in one year, and this can sometimes cause growing pains.5
Coping with Puberty
Puberty is much easier for a young woman to cope with if she understands what is going on. Knowing what to expect can be helpful and having a trusted adult to talk to about her body or emotional issues is also beneficial.
Additionally, young women may need to start caring for themselves in ways that they are not used to, including treating acne, using deodorant for body odor, shaving, wearing a bra, or using feminine products for menstrual periods.
Many of these things are second nature to adults, but they can be confusing for young girls who are not yet accustomed to their bodies.
Developing breasts can be tender, and growing pains can be frustrating as well. The medical community cannot agree on what causes growing pains, or the best way to alleviate them.6 Some families swear by using calming and relaxing essential oils such as lavender and chamomile to help growing teens sleep through the night.
The first menstrual period can be another major milestone for young girls who are struggling to understand their new bodies. While some young girls can breeze through puberty and do not experience cramps or discomfort, others do. It is important that young women stay as active as possible throughout puberty. A significant number of girls drop out of sport during puberty and do not pick them up again afterward.7 Staying active can help reduce period pains and improve your mood, however.
Surviving the Social Phase of Puberty
Puberty can present some other challenges for girls. As both genders discover the opposite sex, the playground can become a rather political and challenging environment. Hormones and insecurities can lead to people saying and doing things that they might not really mean.
This can be incredibly stressful, and if a young woman has no one to confide in, then they can find themselves feeling stressed and upset. Teaching a young girl how to value herself without putting too much emphasis on social capital is important. It is also a good idea to give the young women in your life the opportunity to find something that they enjoy and that gives them confidence and brings them joy so that they have a positive outlet for their frustrations.
For many young girls, experimenting with aromatherapy can help them to relax. There are essential oils to help with acne, reduce the strain of the menstrual cycle, and help them cope with stress.8
Some essential oils, including lavender and tea tree oil, appear to have estrogenic effects, which could be beneficial for young women.9 One recent study found that massaging the abdomen with a blend of cinnamon, clove, rose, and lavender essential oils diluted in a carrier oil could help reduce menstrual pains.10
The most important thing for any young woman during puberty is that she has the opportunity to express herself in the way that suits her best. Puberty is a time of experimentation, and many young women have several different identities during these teenage years while they figure out what they really want to do with their lives. If they can experiment in a supportive environment, then everything will work out fine.
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