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  • Narda Skov

Best Blog of Questions EVER! Real Questions Answered from 5th Graders


The following series was created out of the thousands of questions we have received over the years teaching in elementary, middle, and high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. There are so many great questions that we had to showcase and hopefully, they offer some developmentally appropriate insight.


FIFTH GRADE ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS

Topic: Puberty

What happens during puberty?

  • Puberty is a time when your brain and body develop from a child to an adult. During puberty, the sex hormones cause boys (people with a penis) and girls (people with a uterus) to change and grow in many ways. All of these changes do not take place at once, most of them happen over a number of years. Some changes happen quickly, others more slowly.


You can see many of the changes that happen during puberty happen to ALL Bodies!

Changes for Boys (People with a Penis)

  • Testicles and scrotum grow

  • Begins to produce sperm

  • Voice deepens

  • Shoulders and chest get broader

Changes for Girls (People with a Uterus):

  • Ovaries gradually grow larger

  • Hips widen

  • Breasts and nipples grow (can also happen to boys)

  • Begins to ovulate

  • Begins to menstruate (get period)

  • A small amount of fluid may come out of the vagina (discharge)

All Bodies

  • Hormones are produced by the brain (testosterone for boys/estrogen & progesterone for girls)

  • May have a sudden growth spurt

  • May have acne (zits or pimples)

  • Gains weight

  • Skin and hair become more oily

  • Perspires (sweats) more

  • Grows taller

  • Arms and legs grow longer

  • Begins to grow hair in the genital area

  • Face begins to look less childlike

  • Hands and feet grow bigger

  • Begins to grow facial hair (some females will have small amounts of facial hair)

  • May begin to feel sexually attracted to other people


Does puberty make you nice?

  • Puberty changes the way your body and brain function, so whether or not it makes you nice (or not so nice) is a matter of what day/time it is. Puberty does get your hormones going and sometimes those hormones can make you feel sad, mad, glad, and even happy on any given day. Being "nice" is something we practice and it feels good.

Does puberty hurt?

  • It depends - it can. If you are experiencing periods or a menstrual cycle for the first time, you can have uterine cramps. Some people if they are experiencing a growth spurt can feel pain in their arms and legs if they are growing. Some people can also have changes in their skin, like acne and that can feel painful. Puberty is not an illness and it can be a joyful experience. All of these are normal and temporary. If you really experience pain, mental or physical, it might be time to visit your doctor to talk about it


Does puberty affect your actions?

  • It can. Your body, brain, and hormones are changing a lot as they work together to get you ready for growing up and the rest of your life. Because you are growing up it can make you moody, it can make you feel 'horny' or feel sexually attracted to others in ways that you did not before. It can make you feel tired, energetic, and many other feelings. Puberty can also make you feel like your friends are more important than your family, it can make you feel more grown-up or less grown up. It can also increase your desire for privacy. In other words - there are many ways that puberty can affect how you feel and act, but you are still you and it is perfectly normal to feel all kinds of ways.

When do you stop growing?

  • This can be different for different people and different genders. When you begin and end puberty is generally when your biological parents went through puberty. For people with a penis (boys), their growth stops about age 25 (and starts later, as well). For people with a uterus (girls), they stop growing at about ages 17-18 years old.

Why do you have a period and how do you have it?

  • People with a uterus (girls) are born with eggs (ovum) in their ovaries. The eggs (ovum) have one purpose, and that is to be fertilized by an egg. It does not mean they will ever be fertilized, but that is their purpose. When the eggs begin to be released from the ovary, in a process called ovulation, the uterus lining begins to get thicker with blood as it is preparing in case the egg is fertilized and will plant itself in the lining of the uterus. If there is no fertilization of the egg (a pregnancy), then the lining of the uterus sheds. This is called your period! The period from the beginning of one period to the next is about a month long and is called the menstrual cycle, or menstruation. There is nothing you do, except keep your body healthy to have a regular period. You can track it in a calendar or on an App, especially in the beginning.

Can boys have periods?

  • Boys (people with a penis) do not have periods because they do not have ovaries and the same body parts. They can tell they are going through puberty through many of the other changes (voice getting deeper, getting taller, etc.), but only people with a uterus (girls) get a period.


I am going through puberty right now and I feel kind of worried about it….is that good?

  • Not at all! Puberty is a natural part of growing up as our bodies change from children to adults. There are a lot of people to talk to about it, trusted adults, teachers, and there are lots of books and information that you can ask/look up. Just remember that every person in the world goes through puberty!


When does puberty end?

  • Puberty for people with a uterus usually ends around 18 years old and for people with a penis, about the age of 25. This includes all of the emotional and psychological changes, so while somebody may have grown as tall as they are going to, they may still be growing emotionally and psychologically.


Why do people have mood swings?

  • People have mood swings mostly because of the hormones that are being released in the body, especially during puberty. Mood swings are normal, but if they are real big mood swings, it may be more than you can handle and you can talk to someone about that (trusted adult, doctor, etc).


How does puberty and sex affect your emotional state?

  • Puberty and the hormones it releases in the body can affect your emotional state by increasing the intensity and feelings or moods you are having. For example, you might feel happier, sadder or need more privacy while going through puberty.


How does the baby develop?

  • The egg (ovum) is fertilized by the sperm (male sex cell) and then is implanted in the lining of the uterus. The fertilized egg is called a Zygote, and then becomes an embryo after one month and then by month three is a fetus.


After puberty do you change furthermore?

  • Yes, we are always changing and growing as humans. There is no other time during your life, except the first year of your life, that you change as much as puberty. Most of the changes during adulthood are emotional or psychological, but people generally stop growing after puberty.

How do people make babies?

  • There are many ways to create a pregnancy. The most common way is to have sexual intercourse between a person with a uterus and a person with a penis. The sperm (male sex cell) is released and meets up with an egg (female sex cell) at a certain time of the month and this fertilized egg travels through the fallopian tube, which then moves into the uterus and grows for 40 weeks into a baby. Someone can also get pregnant by In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and that is where an egg and a sperm are connected outside of the body by a doctor. That fertilized egg is then put back in the uterus and can grow.


Will my voice deepen?

  • Yes. The voice box, larynx, usually drops and creates a deeper sound in your voice. This happens to all people, but may be more dramatic in boys (people with a penis).


How many stages of puberty are there?

Experts have defined five general stages in puberty and they are listed below. They are helpful to understand how and when things will happen for your body.


PUBERTY STAGES IN GIRLS

  • Stage One (approximately between the ages of eight and eleven): The ovaries enlarge and hormone production starts, but external development is not yet visible.

  • Stage Two (approximately between the ages of eight and fourteen): The first external sign of puberty is usually breast development. At first breast buds develop. The nipples will be tender and elevated. The area around the nipple (the aureole) will increase in size. The first stage of pubic hair may also be present at this time. It may be coarse and curly or fine and straight. Height and weight increase at this time. The body gets rounder and curvier.

  • Stage Three (approximately between the ages of nine and 15): Breast growth continues and pubic hair gets coarser and darker. During this stage, whitish discharge from the vagina may be present. For some girls, this is the time that the first menstrual period begins.

  • Stage Four (approximately from ages 10 to 16): Some girls notice that their aureoles get even darker and separate into a little mound rising above the rest of the breast. Pubic hair may begin to have a more adult triangular pattern of growth. If it did not happen in Stage Three, menarche (first menstruation) should start now. Ovulation may start now, too. But it will not necessarily occur on a regular basis. (It is possible to have regular periods even if ovulation does not occur every month.)

  • Stage Five (approximately between ages 12 and 19): This is the final stage of development. Full height is reached, and young women are ovulating regularly. Pubic hair is filled in, and the breasts are developed fully for the body.

PUBERTY STAGES IN BOYS

  • Stage One (approximately between ages nine and 12): No visible signs of development occur, but, internally, male hormones become a lot more active. Sometimes a growth spurt begins at this time.

  • Stage Two (approximately between ages nine to 15): Height increases and the shape of the body changes. Muscle tissue and fat develop at this time. The aureole, the dark skin around the nipple, darkens and increases in size. The testicles and scrotum grow, but the penis probably does not. A little bit of pubic hair begins to grow at the base of the penis.

  • Stage Three (approximately between ages 11 and 16): The penis starts to grow during this stage. It tends to grow in length rather than width. Pubic hair is getting darker and coarser and spreading to where the legs meet the torso. Also, boys continue to grow in height, and even their faces begin to appear more mature. The shoulders broaden, making the hips look smaller. Muscle tissue increases and the voice starts to change and deepen. Finally, facial hair begins to develop on the upper lip.

  • Stage Four (approximately 11 to 17): At this time, the penis starts to grow in width, too. The testicles and scrotum also continue to grow. Hair may begin to grow on the anus. The texture of the penis becomes more adult-looking. Underarm and facial hair increases as well. Skin gets oilier, and the voice continues to deepen.

  • Stage Five (approximately 14 to 18): Boys reach their full adult height. Pubic hair and the genitals look like an adult man's do. At this point, too, shaving is a necessity. Some young men continue to grow past this point, even into their twenties


Why aren’t people with a penis and people with a vulva separated for puberty classes?

  • Great question! We think it is important for everybody to learn about everything that goes on during puberty no matter what gender they are. We want to be inclusive and want everyone to understand bodies that may not be the same as yours. Also, you may live with people of other genders and we think this helps to understand what people are experiencing. Also, you might be a parent of someone or be in a relationship with someone (later in life) and it is good to understand what their bodies and minds are like and may be different or similar to yours.


How do you delay puberty?

  • Yes, you can delay puberty with the help of medication given by a doctor with parental permission. There are a number of reasons why someone would want to delay puberty. If someone does not want to go through puberty, that is not a reason to get medication, but if someone is starting puberty very early (8 years old) or is unsure of their gender, these may be reasons to talk with a doctor and/or a therapist about delaying puberty.


Do people with a penis experience puberty later than people with a vagina/vulva?

  • Generally speaking, yes! People with a vulva (girls) will go through puberty about 1-2 years earlier than people with a penis (boys).


Who says we are the perfect age to talk about this?

  • Experts say that by the time you are 10 years old you are able to understand the changes that are about to happen, or are happening, to you and your peers. Experts want you to be prepared with the correct information and skills to be able to take care of yourself and understand what is happening to your body.


Can puberty happen to everyone?

  • Yes! Every person in the world will go through puberty - no matter where you live, no matter what language you speak. Generally, it begins between ages 9-12 years old.


Is it possible not all people can have puberty?

  • No, all people will go through puberty, unless there are medical issues that might affect your growth, this is very rare. Everyone will grow from a child to an adult during puberty.


Is it possible to stop growth or to force yourself to grow? If so, is it harmful or not?

  • It is not possible to stop growth, or to force yourself to grow- how tall or big you will be depends on your biological parents and genetics. However, you can take puberty blockers and that will delay growth, but we cannot stop ourselves from getting older and growing.


How fast do you grow?

  • This is different for everyone. Some people have growth spurts and can grow a foot in a year or two, for others growing taller may take a longer period of time. For most people they will reach their fullest height by late adolescence, even early 20s.


Why is it important to learn about puberty?

  • Because it is a hard subject to talk about and it affects your life deeply.

  • I’m growing up, so we have to learn about it!

  • Because you don’t want to see something on your body and not know what it is and you won’t go crazy because you’ll know what it is.

  • It is easier to talk when people your own age are around.

  • Because you’ll know how to say the right words!

  • It’s good to learn and important because I’m going through changes and so are a lot of people.


Topic: Anatomy

Can a woman have a testicle or semen?

  • No, a biological female does not have testicles, nor are they able to make semen. However, if a person born a male transitions to a female and keeps their reproductive organs, someone who identifies as female may have testicle(s) and be able to produce sperm.


How do babies pee and poop in the womb?

  • While babies most often hold out on pooping until they’re born, they do pee in the womb. When the baby’s kidneys start to form, they will pee more and this does not hurt the baby, the placenta will take care of it. Most babies do not poop in the womb.


Topic: Slang

What is a disco stick?

  • This is a slang (made up) word for a penis.


Topic: Pregnancy

How are twins made?

  • Twins are most common when a woman releases more than one egg and they both become fertilized by the sperm. When there is more than one egg that is fertilized, this is fraternal twins. When there is only one egg, and it splits, and is fertilized by the sperm, this is an identical twin (same exact genetic material).


Can a woman have a child with another woman?

  • Yes, of course! However, they will have to get impregnated by a sperm donor, or a person with a penis. Two women cannot biologically make a child without having sperm. A pregnancy requires an ovum (egg) and sperm.


Is it possible for a boy & boy, or a girl & girl, to get pregnant without the other gender?

  • It is not possible for a boy and a boy, or a girl and a girl, to get pregnant on their own. For a pregnancy to occur, there has to be an egg and a sperm and they have to meet, either through sexual intercourse or invitro fertilization (IVF).


Are there ways to get only a boy or girl?

  • No, there is no way to definitively have a boy or a girl baby. People have been trying many ways to determine gender, but there is no real scientific way to make this happen.


Topic: Healthy Relationships / Friendships

How do you become a better friend?

  • There are many characteristics to being a good friend. These can include trust, being loyal, a good sense of humor, good communication, having shared interests, being kind and accepting of others. Being a good friend makes us feel good.


How do you politely tell someone if they are not a good friend?

  • It can be very difficult to tell someone they have hurt your feelings or not been a good friend. One way is to be very honest and say “Hey, that hurt my feelings. I thought we were friends and I wouldn’t treat you that way.” Communication is always best when it is in person and each person is able to talk and listen, rather than online or via text.


How do you not get cyber-bullied?

  • No one deserves to be bullied or cyberbullied. If you are being cyberbullied, or on a website where someone is not treating you well, then immediately block that person on your phone and computer and tell a trusted adult. Never engage in a back and forth with someone who is threatening or saying mean things about you, this will only make the situation worse. Save all evidence of texts and emails to show to an adult.

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