The information on this page is meant for a variety of youth and abilities. Some youth may be able to look at this material on their own. Others may need the help of a trusted adult.

Self-care

Have you ever wondered why your body changes as you get older?

The changes are called puberty which means growing from a child to an adult. It usually starts at around 10 years old and most people are finished puberty by the time they are 17 or 18.

Watch the video ‘Let’s Talk about Puberty’ and learn about the top ten signs of puberty and growing up
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Good to know

 If you identify as a gender that doesn’t fit with your sex at birth, these changes may be more difficult. It might be hard to accept the way your body looks and feels. Talking to an adult you trust can help you figure out how to manage puberty changes in a way that’s best for you.

To learn more about growing up trans, watch Puberty and Transgender Youth

Hygiene

Taking care of yourself is part of growing up and this means understanding your body and learning hygiene skills to stay clean and healthy. Puberty changes include body odour (sweating and smelling bad) and oily skin and hair. This can lead to pimples or zits. Looking good can make you feel good and many people like it when others look and smell nice.

Will I get zits during puberty?

Zits are also called pimples or acne caused by oily skin. Lots of people get acne during puberty but some don’t get any. Wash your face every day with a facecloth, water and an unscented soap. If your skin is uncomfortable or you feel bad about it, talk to an adult you trust.

Do I need to shave my pubic hair?

Most people get some pubic hair around their genitals during puberty. Shaving pubic hair is a choice. It’s healthy to have some pubic hair.

Is it healthy to use deodorant?

Getting sweaty means that you may smell under your arms – you might not be able to smell yourself, but others may smell body odour (BO). Using deodorant can help you smell clean. Be sure to wash every day and wear a clean shirt; just wearing deodorant is not enough.

Self-care checklist

These are the activities you should do to take care of yourself

Using a hygiene chart or checklist can help you stay on track. You may need to ask for help with some of the tasks e.g., cutting your nails. Asking for help is ok! Practicing these skills helps you build independence which can feel good.

Print Self-Care Checklist

Periods

As your body grows, the sexual and reproductive body parts and the way they work change too. Your body is getting ready to maybe one day make a baby.

 If you have a vulva and vagina, your body starts to release eggs.

Just before this happens, you may start to see some discharge in your underwear (it’s clear and looks a little bit like egg whites).

If it smells bad or changes colour, talk to an adult you trust. You will start to have periods, bleeding from your vagina, for about 4 or 5 days each month. You are not sick, this is a healthy part of growing up. Use pads, tampons or menstrual cups to catch the blood. It’s important to change them often. Be prepared by having supplies with you at school or work. It’s a good idea to shower or bathe every day to stay fresh.

Wet dreams

If you have a penis and testicles, your body starts to make sperm. Sperm cells can come out of the penis in semen, a sticky white liquid. The penis gets big and hard (erect) before the semen comes out. This is totally expected and healthy. Erections can happen when you don’t expect them and might be embarrassing if it happens when you are around your friends and family. If this happens, sit down or place a sweater over your lap to cover the erection.

Sometimes semen comes out during sleep. This is called a wet dream and is the body practicing to make semen. Some people have them and some don’t. If this happens, clean up by changing your underwear or pajamas and the bedding. Wet dreams are private and you don’t need to tell anyone that they happen for you.

Visiting a Clinic

 Self-care includes knowing how to look after your body parts and how to visit a doctor or clinic. Checkups are important to make sure your body is healthy. If something with your body doesn’t feel right, visiting the doctor can help you find answers.

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For more information on self-care, visit our pages on Hygiene and Puberty and Sexual Development