Relationships & Sexuality

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Year by year, as you get older, you might notice some things change about you. Whether they are emotional, social or physical, it might feel like everything is changing all at once. There’s no need to freak out, you’re coming into your own; you’re becoming a woman or becoming a man.

You will start to form different types of relationships with different types of people. A relationship is the way in which two or more people are connected. Not all relationships are the same.  A relationship can be defined in a few different ways actually. It could mean that you are simply connected to somebody; people like your friends or your teachers. You could also have a relationship with your mum, dad or your family members, whether through blood or marriage. A relationship can also be based around a physical connection like a boyfriend or girlfriend, boyfriend and boyfriend or girlfriend and girlfriend, depending on your choices.

You can’t really plan the stages of life you go through. Nothing can really prepare you for the changes that come alongside the relationships that blossom. You are busy trying to figure out who you are and where you fit into the world. You might feel like spending more time with your friends and less time with your family. It is rather common during teen years that your friends become your tribe, the people you want to spend all your time with. As you come into puberty, you’ll feel independent and responsible and you’ll start to development your own set of values and morals too.

Puberty, put simply, is ‘growing up’. Usually puberty happens between the ages of 8 and 18, but it’s different for everyone.

If the changes in your emotional and social being weren’t enough, your own body will throw you a curve ball too! You might have hair growing where you didn’t before or start to see a few pimples pop up here and there! Changes in your body are different for boys and girls.

How our body is changing

For girls, you’ll start to notice your breasts forming and be in dire need of a bra, your body shape might change and you might get taller in a very short amount of time (some call this a growth spurt). Pubic hair will start to grow and it will most likely get darker and thicker over time and under arm hair will start to come through. Your nipples get bigger and a little sensitive. Your skin may change a little, you may get oily skin and some pimples may start to appear. Last, but certainly not least, you’ll get your period (menstruation). Menstruation is a totally natural part of being a woman. This is where the lining of your uterus (including blood) will shed every month and it can be kind of, well, uncomfortable. You might get cramps or headaches and this is all totally normal. You need to monitor how you feel throughout your periods as feeling unwell and in pain is not normal and you may need to go see your doctor to have a check up. When it comes to choosing pads verses tampons, it is a personal choice. Whatever you choose, ensure the products you select are 100% made out of cotton as it is better for you and chemical free. You will start to notice some vaginal discharge, which can be yellowish, white or clear. This is a normal function of your body as your vagina keeps itself moist and clean.

For boys, you’ll notice your testicles and penis start to grow and sometimes one testis might grow faster than the other. Just like girls, pubic hair will start to grow and it will most likely get darker and thicker over time and hair will start to grow on other parts of your body like chest, legs, arms or face. Hair will continue to grow until you are well into your 20’s! You’ll experience a growth spurt and your voice will deepen over time. With the increase in hormones, you might find yourself experiencing some weird mood swings. Congratulations, you are official a teenager.

How to know if you are ready for sex

So you have now reached the point where your hormones are raging too. You’ll want to try new experiences or maybe even take some risks. It is very important to make sure you are prepared for any experience. You need to make sure you are comfortable and ready and if you get to that point, you need to make sure you are safe. Remember, if at any time you feel uncomfortable or pressured into doing something you don’t want to do, you can say no. Both people should agree to be involved in sex or a sexual encounter – that is called consent. You are allowed to agree to one type of encounter. This does not mean you have to agree to other sexual encounters. For example, even if you have been kissing, it does not mean you have to agree to go any further. If you are with someone who is putting pressure on you to perform in a way that you feel uncomfortable, you need to be very clear on what behavior you are okay and not okay with. If they keep pressuring you, walk away! It just shows that this person does not respect you. You need to respect yourself first so you can set up the boundaries for what feels suitable for you.

Sexual health

Safety should not be taken lightly when it comes to sex or sexual behavior. There are many types of diseases out there and they are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. These are called Sexually Transmitted Diseases or STDs for short. Types of STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes and HIV. Some of these diseases might not even show symptoms for a long time and are easily transferred from one person to the other. The best way to avoid getting any type of STD is to not have sex at all. However, if you feel like you are ready and comfortable to do so, at least make sure you are using protection. The most common form of protection is a condom. If you have made the decision to have a sexual relationship with someone, you have to ensure you always use a condom.