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The Nuts and Bolts of Puberty*

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1 The Nuts and Bolts of Puberty*
*These notes are a summary of the information in the 4You booklet that you may have seen in your P.S.H.E. lessons. We’ve made this PowerPoint so that you can go through things at your own pace as and when you want to. A.Garratt January 2010

2 Growing Up…What’s Happening?
You may have noticed some things about yourself and your friends that are starting to change. Changing bodies, changing feelings and changing relationships. Here you’ll find some facts about what to expect and some ideas on how to cope if it doesn’t happen quite like you thought it would.

3 First, a word about words…
It’s really important to know about your body and understand the changes it’s going through. It’s also important to know the right names for the things you’re learning about. It may be that some of the words you use with your family or friends won’t be liked or understood if you use them with other people. The words used here in bold italics are the ‘official’ ones and will be understood by most people.

4 People’s bodies change throughout their lifetimes.
The changes that happen during puberty though are the most dramatic changes of all. Puberty is the word we use to describe the physical changes that lead to sexual maturity. Adolescence is the word we use to describe all the physical, psychological and emotional changes that transform a child into a young adult.

5 Puberty usually starts about 18 months earlier in girls than in boys.
It can start as young as 8 and will usually continue until 15 or 16. Everyone changes at their own rate. No-one can decide when to start puberty. It all depends on when the hormones, the chemical messengers inside the body, decide it’s time to begin work. Remember – everyone goes through puberty and gets there in the end!

6 Feelings Remember it’s not just a young person’s body that changes during puberty – minds and feelings change too. This is because in the same way that the bodies are transformed during puberty, brains are changed too so that the child’s brain you had becomes the adult brain you will use throughout your life.

7 Ups and Downs During puberty you will probably have lots of emotional ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll get angry and have rows with family and friends. Sometimes you’ll feel moody and totally fed up and miserable – often for no particular reason. Sometimes you may not understand why you behave like you do. For many people puberty is a bit of a roller coaster ride!

8 At other times though life will be really exciting, for example when you’re learning or doing new things, meeting new people and going to new places.

9 Remember..... All of these things are normal, although it can feel awful at the time. But..... If you feel bad, worried or upset nearly all the time, talk to someone you trust about how you feel.

10 You might want to talk to someone about what’s happening to you
You might want to talk to someone about what’s happening to you. If your parents or carers haven’t already talked to you, try asking them. They may be embarrassed and you may be too, but they’ll probably be pleased you asked. You may also be able to talk to another relative or an older friend or teacher or the school nurse.

11 Puberty is a time when.... You may start fancying people and getting exciting feelings when you think about them. You may imagine yourself kissing or being close to them. These are called sexual feelings. Sometimes you fancy people you know; sometimes you may fancy someone who’s famous. They may be the opposite sex from you or the same sex.

12 Puberty is a time when... You will probably be good friends with lots of people without fancying them. There may be times when you don’t fancy anyone at all.

13 Sometimes it might seem like sex is everywhere
Sometimes it might seem like sex is everywhere. You hear it talked about on TV and radio, in songs, in people’s conversations and on the school bus. You read about it in magazines and advertisements and hear jokes about sex and people calling out horrible things about it. Sometimes it seems as if sex is everywhere and everyone’s doing it all the time but

14 But it isn’t! It’s a sign of being immature.
Remember...most of what you hear is more to do with people’s imaginations than reality! Some people act this way because they are embarrassed about sex or because they don’t understand what they’re saying or because they think it’s grown up. But it isn’t! It’s a sign of being immature.

15 Being grown up about sex is
About treating yourself and other people with respect. About not being afraid to ask someone appropriate for help if you need it or if you don’t understand something.

16 A Close-Up on Girls’ Puberty
During puberty girls’ bodies start to change shape. They grow taller and heavier. Breasts develop. Hips widen and flatten. Hair grows in the armpits and around the vulva, the opening to the vagina. The hair around the genital organs is called pubic hair. Sweat becomes heavier and smellier. An all over daily wash is essential.

17 Many of the changes of puberty place inside girls’ bodies and are to do with the development of the reproductive organs. Each month a tiny egg (which is too small to see) or ovum is released from one of a girls’ two ovaries. The egg travels slowly down the fallopian tubes.

18 At the same time that the egg or ovum is moving along the fallopian tubes, the lining of the uterus or womb is becoming thick and soft. When the body knows that no baby is growing, the egg is re-absorbed by the body and the lining of the uterus passes out of the body through the vagina as a small amount of blood. This process is called having a period. Usually the amount of blood is very small – about enough to fill an egg cup – and takes about 4 to 5 days to come out.

19 Beginning to have periods can feel like a very big change.
For most girls it happens somewhere between the ages of 8 and 14 but sometimes it’s later. Some girls may get a whitish mark on their pants. This is a sign that their periods may soon begin. To begin with periods may not come regularly but after a while they settle down and come about once a month.

20 Girls and women use towels, pads or tampons to absorb the blood from a period.
These need to be changed every few hours. Pads which have adhesive backs and sometimes ‘wings’ too, stick to the inside of the pants. Tampons fit inside the vagina and absorb the blood before it leaves the body.

21 Pads or Tampons? It’s really a matter of personal choice. Some people prefer one, some the other. Girls usually choose pads to begin with and maybe try out tampons later on. Chemists and supermarkets have a fantastic range of pads and tampons to choose from. With a bit of research, you’ll soon find the products that suit you best. It’s important to be prepared before the first period arrives. Talk to a grown up you trust, maybe a parent, carer or teacher about what’s going to happen and what to do when it does.

22 Disposing of pads and tampons
Don’t flush pads or tampons down the toilet. They can block pipes. Wrap them up and put them in a bin if possible. There are special bins in toilets at school for this purpose. You’ll find these bins in lots of other places too.

23 Girls may want to talk to someone about what’s happening to them
Girls may want to talk to someone about what’s happening to them. Parents or carers are obvious people girls could ask. Other relatives such as grandparents or older friends as well as teachers may also be able to help. If girls prefer they can always look at books about growing up that they’ll find in libraries and bookshops or on reliable websites. There’s a list of good websites on the last slide of this PowerPoint.

24 A Close-Up on Boys’ Puberty
In boys puberty usually starts later than in girls – usually after the age of 10 or 11, but it can be later than this. Voices ‘break’ and become a lot deeper. Bodies start to sweat more and, because it is fatty, the sweat is smellier. A thorough all over daily wash is essential!

25 Hair grows in various places on boys’ bodies – including under the arms, on the chest, legs and around the base of the penis. Hair around the genital organs is called pubic hair. The hair on the face is generally the last to develop. The testicles get bigger and start to make millions of sperm every day. Sperm swim around in a protective fluid called semen. The penis gets thicker and longer.

26 Boys often worry that their penis isn’t as big as other boys’
Boys often worry that their penis isn’t as big as other boys’. Sizes do vary a bit but not as much as people think. About half of all men in the world are circumcised. This means that the foreskin, the flap of skin round the end of the penis, has been cut away, usually for religious reasons, when they were babies. If the penis has not been circumcised it is very important to clean under the foreskin every day. Boys should be able to pull the foreskin back to expose the head of their penis.

27 An erection is when the penis stiffens and sticks out from the body
An erection is when the penis stiffens and sticks out from the body. This often happens in the morning or can happen when boys think about people or see pictures that they like. Ejaculation is when a small amount of semen is squirted out of the erect penis. The amount varies but its usually less than a teaspoonful.

28 When ejaculation happens at night, during sleep, it’s called a wet dream. Wet dreams are completely natural, but not everyone notices that they have them. The penis is also used for urinating, but urination and ejaculation cannot happen at the same time.

29 Masturbation is when a person touches or strokes their own sexual organs because it feels good.
Masturbation is private. Some people masturbate, others don’t. People of all ages may do it. Sometimes people disagree about it. Masturbation isn’t harmful and it can be a way to find out about sexual feelings and learn about your own body.

30 Boys may want to talk to someone about what’s happening to them
Boys may want to talk to someone about what’s happening to them. Parents or carers are obvious people boys could ask. Other relatives such as grandparents or older friends as well as teachers may also be able to help. If boys prefer they can always look at books about growing up that they’ll find in libraries and bookshops or at reliable web sites.

31 And Finally…….. Remember that millions and millions and millions of young people go through puberty every year. It’s all part of an entirely natural process and will sort itself out in the end. In the meantime, if you need help ask someone appropriate who you trust. If you prefer, use your Independent Enquirer skills to find out for yourself. Britannica online, books from the libraries and websites like: will help answer any questions you may have.


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