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Teen Girls' Health

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Girls and Puberty

Increase in Hair

While for most girls, breast development is the first sign of puberty, others might first notice pubic hair. An increase in hair on your arms and legs, in your armpits, and around your pubic area happens to girls early in puberty.

If you want to shave your legs and underarms, ask your mom or another woman you trust about selecting the safest razor. Someone who is experienced in shaving needs to show you how to shave safely; using a gentle shaving cream, water, and a razor.

Keep in mind that not all women shave their body hair. In some cultures, it is acceptable to leave the armpits and legs unshaven. You have to decide what is best for you and your family's customs.

Your First Menstrual Period

Soon after they develop breasts, most girls have their first menstrual period. This usually happens between ages 12 and 13, but menstruation can start earlier or later. During a menstrual period, there are two to three days of heavier bleeding with two to four days of lighter flow.

Menstruation happens to all girls, so try not to be embarrassed in learning more about it. Talk to your mom or an adult you trust about having your period.

During your period, you'll need to wear a sanitary pad or tampon. Your mom (or other adult) can purchase these products and show you how to use them. Be sure to keep extra pads or tampons in your school locker in case your period starts suddenly during the school day. If you forget, ask to see a school nurse or ask a female teacher for help.

Cramps and Your Period

Cramps are caused by the increased production of hormones during your period. This causes the muscles of the uterus to contract. You might also notice:

  • Aching in your upper thighs
  • Back pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

Medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help ease period pain. Putting a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen may also help. If your cramping is severe, talk to your health care provider.

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