Puberty in Girls

What is puberty?
• Puberty is a transition phase from childhood into adulthood where your child will encounter a lot of changes in her physical appearance and with her behavior and personality
• Girls are born with the female reproductive organs which consists of the uterus (the womb) which lies in front of the bladder, the ovaries (produce the eggs) which lie on either side of the uterus and connect to the uterus via Fallopian tubes
• Puberty heralds the maturation of these reproductive organs and prepares the womb to carry and nurture a baby in the future
• These pubertal changes are attributed to the release of chemicals (female sex hormones) from the ovaries

Changes in puberty
• Onset of puberty can occur anywhere between 8-13 years of age in girls
• The start of puberty is marked initially by breast development
• The breasts begin as tiny lumps under the nipples which can produce some temporary sensitivity or pain in some children
• The rate at which these lumps increase in size to take the shape of breasts vary for each individual
• Girls can notice some soft hair in the underarms and pubic areas
• This hair can progressively get denser, thick and curly
• There will also be increased hair growth on the legs and arms as they progress through puberty
• Girls can notice a change in the shape of their body
• The hips get wider
• Thighs get more rounded
• Body starts to get curvier
• Some weight gain will happen
• There will be gain in height – growth spurt
• How tall your child gets is determined genetically
• There may be body odor from more sweating
• Skin can get more oily and pimples may appear which can range from just a few to many over the face , chest and back

Menstruation
• Girls can start to menstruate (menarche) or have “periods” anywhere from 2-21/2 years after the onset of breast development
• Menstruation is the process where the uterus is getting prepared for a pregnancy whereby an egg from the ovary traverses into the uterus whose lining membrane is thickened to embed a fertilized egg. When the egg is not fertilized it gets shed along with the lining membrane via the vaginal passage
• The period consists of a vaginal discharge of blood mixed with fluid which can last anywhere between 3 -7 days with heavier flow in the first 2-3 days
• The periods usually occur every 28 days, however, in the first 2 years of menarche the periods may not happen regularly
• Periods may be accompanied by abdominal cramps before or during the period

Talking to your child about puberty
• Talking to your child about puberty is a very important job as a parent
• Have the talk with them when you start to notice the onset of breast development or around the age of 10 whichever occurs first
• You need to make them aware of this phase, which is new and can be overwhelming considering so many changes happen physically and emotionally
• The ease and confidence with which you approach the topic helps to create a comfortable rapport with your child so that she will not turn to others and obtain misinformation
• Tell her that these physical changes are bound to happen to all of her peers, however it will vary in the time of occurrence and course of development hence there is no need to be self conscious or embarrassed
• Talk to her about the use of sanitary napkins or tampons and how to carry a pack of sanitary pads in preparation for when in case it happens while she is out
• Compliments and positive reinforcements can help to boost her self esteem and create a confident girl ready to take on the challenges of her changing world

Team Ovum Hospitals