There are natural chemicals released in our bodies that let us know that we are hungry or full, happy or sad, tired or full of energy. They even control how our body develops, as we grow older.
These natural chemicals are called Hormones, and their control centre is in a special place (called the hypothalamus gland) in our brains. This gland is so sensitive that it can cause us to find it difficult to get to sleep when we are very excited or stressed and, like a small pebble dropping into a pond, the effects of hormones in our bodies can be likened to the ripples spreading out across the water. They are so special that, between the ages of 9 and 17, they begin the process of Puberty. This is the part of our growing up when changes inside and outside of our bodies means that we are passing from being children to becoming adults. Some of the changes are fairly easy to deal with and some are more difficult, but everyone goes through these changes.
First you will start to grow much quicker than before. This is called a growth spurt. Your arms and legs grow quicker than your body to start with, so you might feel a bit awkward or clumsy until your body catches up about a year later. This growth spurt also signals that your period (menstrual cycle) will begin in 6 months to a year. You will notice that you put on a little weight also.
Your breasts will start to develop and will continue to do so for a few years. Normally, one breast grows a little quicker than the other; so do not worry about it. Feeling a little shy about your breasts is also quite normal.
At the same time that the growth spurt begins, you will also start to develop some pubic hair and underarm hair usually appears about two years after pubic hair first grows.
After about two years from when your breasts started to develop, and when your weight is approximately 45 – 50 Kg, your first period will begin. Your first period is called Menarche (men-ar-key). For your menarche to continue, you must have about 17% of fat stored in your body.
When your first period starts, your growth spurt ends.