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If you're a teen, you've got questions about love, dating, and sex. It's that simple. You may feel totally comfortable talking to your parents about relationships and friendships, but sex is a different story entirely.
SteadyHealth's discussion boards reflect that. While this site is dedicated to all health-related topics, you'll find teens' questions about sex and puberty on the homepage at any given time. Teens have questions about menstruation, body hair, the opposite sex, masturbation and the "first time". More difficult issues like sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy also come up at times.
We know you're curious, and we also know that sex can have negative consequences that you should know about before you decide engage in it. That's why we think any teen should know all about sex. I — a European mom who is not scared of sex talk — will be your host for today.
Puberty marks the first step into the adult world of sex, starting with curiosity about your body and feelings towards the opposite sex (or the same sex, if you're gay!). So, let's start with an overview of puberty. Boys and girls should really know what happens to their own body as well the body of the other sex.
Girls usually begin puberty between the ages of 11 and 12. Most will get their periods at 12, 13, or 14 but others begin menstruating a little earlier or a little later. Beginning breasts are often the first sign of puberty. Girls can also expect pubic hair growth and more hair growth on the legs, body odor, and pimples. Beside that, you might start having sexual feelings towards boys, or other girls. Your vulva — the area around the vagina — will also start looking different.
Girls who start their period can use menstrual pads or tampons, but menstrual pads are excellent for newly menstruating girls because they are easier to use.
If you decide to use tampons, it is important to insert them with clean hands and to change them regularly. Inserting a tampon can be awkward at first, but it should not hurt and it does not take away your virginity — which may be defined as having sexual intercourse for the first time, or engaging in sexual activity for the first time. Inserting tampons is not a sexual act.
Boys tend to start puberty between the ages of 11 and 12. Their first signs may be penis and testicle growth, and pubic hair. Boys actually start having erections (a "hard penis") from birth and perhaps even while they're still in the womb, but you'll probably have one every morning now. Boys can also have wet dreams, during which they ejaculate.
The other important changes in boys are that their voice becomes deeper, they'll develop an Adam's Apple, they'll have more body hair and they'll start growing a little bit of facial hair. This is the time at which you'll want to experiment with shaving. Adult men have heavier bones and more skeletal muscle than adult women, so you might notice some changes there as well. Finally, you'll start being attracted to girls or boys.
One more word about your body: private parts come in all shapes and sizes. The chances are that you are completely normal, so embrace your private parts and the rest of your body without shame.