Puberty

It is the period during which the physical and psychological changes occur. This is initiated by hormone signals from the brain to the reproductive organs- ovaries and testes.

This process happens early in girls 10-13 years and stops early 15-17 years where as in boys it happens a little late 12-14 years and stops around 20 years.

The physical and psychological effects are different in males and females.

Sexual characteristics of a young man in his early twenties

Physical

  • Gains weight
  • Skin gets oilier
  • Shoulders gets wider/broader – squarer
  • Muscles become stronger and bigger
  • Voice gets deeper
  • Penis becomes larger and wider
  • Testicles get larger
  • Facial hair development
  • Development of hair under arms
  • Pubic hair development
  • Spermatogenesis (production of sperm)
  • Erection – when nervous or excited
  • Wet dreams – nocturnal emission
  • Narrow hips
  • Body hair -  back, arms and thighs

Psychological

  • Easily sexually stimulated
  • Impulsive
  • Likes to experiment
  • Highly irritable
  • Likes to form gangs with boys of similar age

Sexual Characteristics of a young woman in her early twenties

Physical

  • Body becomes curvier
  • Hip bones widen
  • Skin gets oilier
  • Under arm hair development
  • Breasts start to develop
  • Weight gain on hips
  • Leg muscles become bigger and stronger (more in males than in females)
  • Pubic hair growth – straight upper margin
  • Menstruation
  • Some whitish discharge from the vagina close to or in between periods
  • Ovulation

Psychological

  • Sexual desire
  • Desire to stay alone
  • Desire to experiment
  • Irritability
  • Likes to hang around in clicks

Menstruation

The beginning of monthly bleeding/periods is called menarche. This only happens when all the parts of the girl’s reproductive system have matured and are functioning well and together.

During the first few months to years, a girl’s menstrual cycle may not be regular.It may take sometime for the cycles to regularize. Also at the beginning, though she may bleed, there may not be any release of an egg from the ovary.

The pituitary gland secretes a hormone called FSH, which causes the egg follicles in the ovary to secrete oestrogen.

Oestrogen causes the endometrium to thicken.When the egg is released, a second hormone progesterone is secreted by the ovary. This causes the lining of the uterus to become spongy.Progesterone will be secreted  for a further 14 days, which maintains the inner lining, waiting for a fertilized egg for implantation. If there is no fertilization,  the progesterone and oestrogen levels fall, the extra tissue lining is shed by the uterus. The blood, tissue and unfertilized egg leave the uterus, through the vagina. This process is called menstruation.

Menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is the period from the 1st day of bleeding in one month to the 1st day of bleeding of the next month. The average (mean) cycle is 28 days,but a cycle between 21-35 days is considered normal.

How long can you have bleeding?

3 to 5 days of bleeding is considered normal,but it may be between 2-7 days. The amount of blood lost during periods vary from person to person.Some individuals may experience abdominal pain or nausea during the first 2 days of the periods.

What hygienic practices should be practiced during mensus?

Change your sanitary napkins at least every 6 hours.

If you are using cloth,wash it and dry it in the sun and keep in a clean place among your clothes.

Clean the genital area, twice a day, using a mild soap and water.

There is no harm in bathing during menses.Bathing is essential during menses for cleanliness.

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)

Some girls may notice some physical or emotional changes around the time of the period.

Some signs and symptoms are:

  • Acne (pimples)
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Backache
  • Sore breasts (breast pain)
  • Headache
  • Food craving
  • Depression or feeling blue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty to concentrate
  • Difficulty in handling stress


What is the basis behind it?

After menstruation there is a cyclical increase of oestrogen/progesterone hormones ( sex hormones of a female),but just before menses their levels go down, these changing hormone levels may be giving these symptoms.

HYMEN & VIRGINITY

Hymen

Is a very thin elastic membrane (onion peel) situated ½ cm inside the vaginal orifice. It partially closes the entrance to the vaginal passage.

The hymen usually ruptures after the 1st intercourse. It can also be damaged by inserting a finger or an object or by regular exercises.

Some women are born without a hymen. Even if you have a hymen, all women may not bleed at 1st sexual intercourse.Approximately,20% of women won’t bleed at first intercourse.

With damage to the hymen you may loose a little blood.

Different types of Hymens

Virgin

A virgin is a woman who has never had sexual intercourse and not a woman who bleeds at first intercourse.

Common questions regarding  Hymen and virginity

  • Why is there pain at 1st sexual intercourse? Is it due to rupture of the hymen?

No. the pain is usually due to the fear and ignorance of the sexual act. Due to this, the female may contract the perineum, causing the vaginal orifice to retract causing pain when inserting the penis.

  • Can a virgin become pregnant?

Yes. If seminal fluid is discharged around the vaginal orifice, sperms can travel through the orifice, up to the vagina, through the uterus into the tube.

But this is uncommon/rare.

Health & hygiene

Vaginal discharge

Non-itching, colorless, odourless, mild discharge is physological and experienced by many girls. You do not need any treatment.

But if the discharge is blood stained, brownish, accompanied by itching and is offensive ,you need to see a doctor.

Personal Hygiene?

Under garments – Prefarably wear cotton underwear, wash daily and dry in the sun.

Toilet use        – When going to the toilet to urinate,try to wash genital area every time. Then wipe  with a dry  cloth. Use soap in the genital area only in the morning and at night.Make sure you use a non irritative ,mild soap in the genital area.Do not use antiseptics on that area.