Body beginner

Questions Answered

Is it normal for one breast bud to develop before the other?

Totally! Boobs grow because hormones - the natural chemicals that control puberty - circulate through the body, instructing various parts to stretch and change. Even though hormones float all through your body, the body parts don’t always respond to them at exactly the same time or in precisely the same way. 

Is it normal to have hairy boobs?

Yes! While this is rarely talked about, it’s totally normal to have hair on your boobs. Different parts of the breast have different types of hair. The nipples - which are right smack in the middle - rarely have hair. But the flat red or dark brown circle around the nipple - the areola - can have thick, dark hairs. The skin covering the of your chest also can have hair, but this is usually so fine that you’ve never even noticed it before.

Will my boobs change shape and size for the rest of my life?

Boobs can swell and change shape and size your whole life… or not. It just depends. Because boobs are particularly good at holding onto water, some boobs swell a lot - so much so that you need to wear an entirely different bra size for a few days. This is most common right before your period, thanks to the balance of hormones circulating through your body that signal to the body to hang on to extra water. What you eat can have this same effect (particularly a diet high in sodium). And boobs can change in size with normal weight fluctuations as well.

Can big boobs make your back hurt?

Yes! Heavy breasts can put strain on the neck, shoulders, and back. If this is happening to you, talk to someone about it - maybe a parent, maybe your doctor - especially if your boob size is stopping you from doing sports or working out the way you want to. 

Are asymmetrical boobs normal?

Yes! For the same reason that breast buds can appear at different times (hormones!), boobs can wind up different sizes. This happens when body parts don’t respond to circulating hormones at exactly the same time or in precisely the same way. In some bodies, this can cause boobs to wind up being different sizes or shapes.

Is vaginal discharge normal?

Vaginal discharge is 100% normal, so get used to it! That is, if it’s clear and looks like mucus, like the stuff you blow out your nose. Discharge is the liquid that the vagina uses to clean itself, which is why, when you take a bath or shower, you don’t need to use any cleansers other than a little lather of soap on the vulva followed by a water rinse. So if you see discharge in your underwear, it’s just your vagina doing its job.

Is dark yellow, green, or thick and white discharge normal?

While clear, mucousy discharge is totally normal, if your discharge ever looks super dark yellow, green, or thick and white, it may be a sign of an infection. So take the clue to go see your doctor. 

Are the vagina and vulva the same thing?

Though the two words are often used as synonyms, they have different meanings. The vulva refers to all of the genitalia on the outside including the labia, which are lips outside of the vagina, the vaginal opening, as well as the clitoris (a collection of nerves where the labia meet at the front of the vulva) and the opening of the urethra (that’s to hole where pee comes out). The vagina is the muscular canal inside the body, ending at the vaginal opening where you would insert a tampon or menstrual cup.

Should I use cleansing products for my vagina?

The vagina does a great job of keeping itself clean, which is actually the reason why there is vaginal discharge. Cleansers like douches can irritate this sensitive area. So it’s best to leave the area be - aside from a quick lather with some non-perfumed soap followed by a water rinse when you are taking a bath or a shower.

Are vaginal throbbing, sharp pain, and persistent tenderness normal?

While new sensations and feelings or a little itching here and there are totally normal, discomfort or pain in your vagina or groin should point you to a doctor.

How many holes do I have down there?

There are actually three!!! Females have two openings on the vulva: the urethra, where pee comes out, and then behind that the much bigger vaginal opening, which is where tampons and menstrual cups are inserted. Though it is not part of the vulva, the anus is a third opening (it’s behind the vagina) and marks where poop comes out.

Is it ok to remove my pubic hair?

Yes. Pubic hair is completely normal, but it’s ok if you prefer to remove it for personal reasons. As you get older, what you choose to do or not do with your body is completely up to you. Just make sure the pubic hair is being removed safely. That said, you may want to touch base with a trusted adult about what you are thinking of removing, why, and how.

Is it ok to flush pads and tampons down the toilet?

No! Not in the toilet, please!! This can clog a drain, leading to overflow. Wrap up your used tampon or pad in a small amount of toilet paper and dispose of it in the trash can. Why wrap? Because the blood on the tampon or pad can get onto the trash bin or even onto the person emptying the trash - wrapping it up is a thoughtful and safe extra step.

What can I do to ease my period cramps?

There are lots of ways to manage period cramps, making that time of the month a little more bearable. Heating pads, hot baths, and exercise are all great ways to ease period cramps. Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help - just make sure an adult knows you are taking them first and follow the dosing recommendations on the bottle.

Does a tampon go inside or outside of the body?

Tampons are inserted into the vagina, where they soak up menstrual blood before it has the chance to drip out.

Is it normal to have an irregular period?

Yes! When girls first start getting their period, some have regular cycles every 3 - 5 weeks right away, but most have very irregular patterns for months (if not years). Seriously, you might get your period one week, then not again for 3 months, but then again 2 weeks later, and this is totally normal. 

Can I sleep in a tampon?

No... well sort of. Tampons are foreign bodies - that means they are not natural parts of the human body. Any foreign body carries a risk for infection, and that risk increases the longer the foreign body is in there. This is why tampons come labeled with warnings that they shouldn’t be worn for more than 4 - 8 hours. This time limit ensures that tampon use will be safe. Since most teenagers sleep longer than 8 hours - and many don’t want to be stressed about leaving a tampon in too long - it’s a much better bet to use a pad and/or period underwear overnight. 

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