Sexuality and U
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Sexual Health

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What’s Happening to my Body?

 

As teenagers become adults, their bodies go through a lot of physical changes. The categories below describe some of these changes. Remember, everyone goes through these changes differently, so you may recognize some of these changes happening now, and others may not happen at all.

Physical Changes

Puberty is your body physically changing from a child to an adult. It is how your body matures to become ready to be sexually active and produce children.

Are you feeling too skinny? Weighing in at more than before? Is your face looking a bit oily? Are your breasts feeling tender? Where are those breasts already? Are you shorter than the other boys on the court? Are all of your pants getting too short to reach your ankles?

Relax. these are all normal questions, and if you’re still waiting around for puberty, don’t worry. Puberty will show up soon enough. If some of your friends of the same age are reaching puberty, then you will most likely reach it within a year or two.

Remember, puberty is different for everyone. Your changes are going to be different from the changes in your best friends, but don’t let it worry you - each of our bodies takes its own natural course. Some teens may race through puberty, growing like a beanstalk in just a few months. For others, it may seem to drag on forever. Whichever the case, it really makes no difference.

It might help you get to know your own body by keeping an eye on the changes its going through. If you want, check yourself out in front of a mirror. It may seem a little silly, but it’s your body and you’re going to have it for a long time - you might as well get used to it!

Psychological Changes (Mental Health)

Like your body, your mind is changing. You’re getting a lot smarter, and you’ve learned a lot about how life works. As a kid, you may have heard the old “I’ll tell you when you’re older” brush-off. Now you ARE older, your mind is developing, and you use reason and experience to make decisions. You’re starting to understand the bigger picture of life. This is important, as you’ve reached an age where you will have to start making decisions for yourself, and a lot of these decisions will affect your future. Your understanding of how you fit in your surroundings will help you make the choices that are best for you and your future.

Social Changes

There are few things in this world that are more important than having good friends. Whether you have one or two best friends, or a couple dozen good friends, life just isn’t the same without them.

As you go through your teen years, you and your friends are going to change a lot. Your bodies will change, your minds will change and so will your likes and dislikes. As time passes, you may get closer with some of your friends, but with others you may lose some of the things you shared in common. As a kid, you may have been really into sports, but now you’d rather jam with a band. And as people change, so do their relationships and the people they like to be around. Chances are, you’ve probably already changed your closest friends a few times in your life.

It can be sad, but it’s also a natural part of life, and it happens to everyone. Plus, it’s also an exciting time of change, where you can meet new people and develop new hobbies and interests. Check out your school to see if there are clubs and teams you’d like to join and find other people who might share your interests.

Emotional Changes (Mood Changes)

One minute you’re flying high, the next minute you’re sad. Your parents say they can’t keep up, and that you’re impossible to live with. So what’s with all these mood swings?

Being moody it pretty standard for people your age. Your body is going through a lot of changes, and it takes everybody a little while to catch up with the effects on their emotions. Yes, you may drive your parents crazy for a while, but all and all, being moody really isn’t that big of a deal. What’s important, though, is that you find a way to recognize and manage your emotions. This sounds a lot easier than it is. Sometimes you may feel a certain way for no reason at all. The trick is to look at all the feelings you’re feeling - mad, sad, scared, or whatever - and decide what’s really going on inside.

These emotions are all totally normal. They’re just part of being human. Still, they can certainly mess with your head a little. To make sense of it all, try to ask yourself this: What’s making me feel this way, and what can I do to feel better? Then just go out and do it. Again, this advice probably sounds a lot easier than it really is. But asking yourself questions like these, and being in touch with your emotions will help you make good decisions and will help you get what you want out of life.

If your feelings start to overwhelm you, and you don’t feel like you can deal with something on your own, just go talk to someone. Find someone you trust and feel comfortable talking to - your parents, a coach, a teacher, an aunt or uncle - and just tell them what’s on your mind. These people care about you and want to help.

Hormonal Changes

During puberty you will probably grow about 4 inches per year. Your voice will change and might become deeper, pubic hair will grow thicker, and your skin is changing and you may get some pimples. These changes are all caused by your hormones, which are chemicals in your body that cause it to change. As you move through puberty, these chemicals will eventually make it possible for you to father or mother a child.

Hormonal changes kick in when your pituitary gland gives the go-ahead to your sex glands (ovaries for girls, testicles for boys). Your sex glands then make hormones and send them to other parts of your body, causing all the changes of puberty. A man’s main hormone is called testosterone, produced in the testicles, and a woman’s main hormones are called estrogen and progesterone, produced in the ovaries. These hormones are the reason why there are physical and emotional changes during puberty.

Body Image/Self Image

In a world where movies, music videos and teen magazines try to dictate what’s “attractive”, it’s easy for someone to beat themselves up over the way they look. This isn’t just a “teen” problem, and it doesn’t just stop there; human beings are obsessed with the way we look. Everywhere you turn someone is trying to sell you how you should look, what you should do, or the kind of person you should be. But let’s face it, we’re not all Halle Berrys or Brad Pitts. In fact, none of us are. So should all of us go through our lives feeling bad about ourselves? Is it really worth it?

The consequences of not “measuring up” leads to a negative self image, where you don’t like yourself inside or outside. Some people get so caught up with these “standards” that they may even develop eating disorders and starve themselves. Some of them may even die - just to look a certain way on the outside. They throw away their entire life, just because they believe they have to look a certain way to be happy.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” about a thousand times in you life. It may be hard to see it now, but as you get older, you’ll find this rings more and more true. The truth is, no matter how old you are, there are always going to be people who only see what’s on the outside. But as you get older, you’ll find that things like personality, confidence, intelligence, a sense of humour or having a good heart will start to define what is “beautiful”, not just the way a person looks on the outside. In fact, most people would agree that one of the most attractive qualities you can find in a person is that they are happy with their lives and happy with themselves. Others are attractive simply because they don’t buy into what everyone else thinks is attractive. In a way it’s almost funny - people who spend all of their energy trying to be what other people think is “attractive” rarely are attractive, while people who don’t try at all can often achieve it effortlessly.

What’s important is that you don’t need diet pills, hours at the gym or maxed-out credit cards to feel good! Your appearance should still be important to you, but don’t let it define you or control how you feel. Instead, think of your body and the clothes you wear as a canvas to show people who you really are. Focus on developing your own personal style, instead of just trying to look “perfect”. In the end, who wants to look just like everyone else anyway? Be yourself and be unique. That’s what’s really attractive.