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Answering your questions - on puberty and menstruation
24 Jul 2006

Q. I would like to know - I'm 13+, turning 14 later this year. I haven't had my period yet and all my other friends have! What are the symptoms? And does puberty happen before or after your menstruation?

Puberty begins without any signs. Your hormone levels start to change, and your ovaries become more active. Then after a while you notice that your breasts have started to change and grow and you have hair growing in different places, such as under your arms and around your pubic area. About a year after these changes start to show, most girls will have their first period. All girls are a bit different, so this may not be exactly when you have your first period, but it happens around this time for many girls.

Often the first sign of a period is staining on your pants because you have started to bleed (usually you will not have a lot of bleeding when you have your first period). Some girls get cramping pains in their tummy around the same time as the period starts. You could find out more about periods in the topics Menstruation – having a period and Menstruation – facts and questions.

Q. What can you do if all the other boys are getting hair and growing tall and you’re not?

There is nothing that can be done to change the time that your body will start to grow and to change. Everyone is different so everyone has a different experience of puberty. Some people go though puberty early, and some go though it late.

When you experience puberty at a different time to your peers it can make you feel and look different. Sometimes people use this as an opportunity to pay you out or bully you. People who experience late puberty can feel like they need to hide this from friends. Boys might feel embarrassed about taking their shirt off in the changing rooms because they look like a little kid in comparison to other boys who have already grown taller and started filling out.

Experiencing puberty at a different time can make you feel embarrassed, and make it hard to talk to others about it. But talking is usually the best thing you can do. Talk to a trusted adult about your worries. If you are developing a lot later than your friends, Mum, Dad or whoever cares for you could take you to see your doctor to make sure that everything is developing normally.

There are a lot of topics in our Nearly Teens section which can help you find answers to some of the questions you want to ask about puberty.