Talking with Teens and Tweens | Puberty and Sex
How to Deal with Puberty As a Blind or Visually Impaired Teen
Puberty can be a difficult phase of life, and even more difficult when you cannot compare your experience with others due to your vision. Recognize that your body will change and you will likely need to care for it differently. While puberty is hard as a blind or visually impaired person, you can make it a little easier by knowing how to deal with it. For example, use an electric shaver instead of a razor. When learning about your changing body, ask to feel an anatomical model to notice the difference between bodies before and after puberty. If you’re unclear about what is happening to your body, ask for some help or resources from a parent or teacher.
Experiencing Bodily Changes
Expect your body to change.You will likely get taller and notice your body changing. This is totally normal and may occur at different times for different people. If you grow earlier or later than your friends, it’s okay. You’ll likely experience a growth spurt and may feel taller than those around you. Even though you may not notice the changes, there are lots of changes happening in your body. For example, girls tend to develop breasts and experience growth in the uterus, vagina, labia, and clitoris. Boys experience growth in their penis and testicles.
- Both boys and girls begin to grow pubic hair and underarm hair.
- Some boys develop minor breast growth. This is not something to worry about and will go away with time.
Choose whether to remove your body hair.Many people choose to remove their body hair. Boys often shave their faces and girls often shave their underarms and/or legs. Shaving can be scary if you’re blind or visually impaired, so be cautious when you begin. One of the safest options is to use an electric shaver. If you do choose to use a razor, spend some time practicing before you begin shaving. Go slowly and gently so that you do not bleed.
- Before you start shaving, spend some time feeling the contours of your face, legs, or underarms. You can practice with an empty razor or a turned-off electric razor first. Use one hand for the razor and the other hand to feel where you need to shave.
- If you’re nervous to shave, don’t worry. There are lots of ways to remove body hair beyond shaving. You can wax, epilate, or get laser hair removal.
Control your body odor.Puberty often leads to body odor, especially in the underarms. You might begin to smell your own scent, which may not smell great. Having a stronger odor is normal and most people choose to minimize their odor.
- Deal with body odor by showering every day, especially after activities when you sweat. Keep your shower safe by having handrails and anti-slip mats.
- Most people choose to wear deodorant and/or antiperspirant, which is easily purchased at a pharmacy or drugstore.
Recognize your sexual changes.Hitting puberty means that you are reaching sexual maturity. You might begin to show interest in others and think about sex. Others may begin to see you in a more sexual way and flirt with you. This is often a result of your body changing and becoming more mature and others taking note.
- Once you hit puberty, you are capable of impregnating a girl (if you’re a boy) or becoming pregnant (if you’re a girl). A boy begins to produce semen, which is what a male contributes to creating a baby.Girls begin to reach sexual maturity by having the ability to become pregnant and carry a baby.
Learning About Puberty
Get some resources.Sighted teens learn about puberty from looking at diagrams and watching videos about bodily changes. It’s a bit different for you. However, lots of resources are available that discuss puberty. You can look to books, pamphlets, videos, audio tracks, presentations and model body parts to learn about puberty. Some books exist in braille and can help you navigate puberty.
- It can be nerve-wracking to ask for the resources you need due to your sight. However, getting the information you need will make the process easier.
Ask to use anatomical models.Learning about puberty and being comfortable with it means learning about the changes that happen to the body. However, being blind can make learning about body parts difficult. One of the best ways to learn about these changes is with anatomical models.Using a model can help you compare a pre-puberty body to a post-puberty body. This can help normalize the way you feel about the changes happening. Use your hands to notice the changes.
- Even if your body doesn’t feel like the model you touch, know that there are some variations. For example, girls might have different breast sizes or labia sizes, and boys may notice that their penis points to the side. These differences are perfectly normal.
Talk about changes for girls.For girls, dealing with getting monthly cycles, or periods, can be a bit tricky. Since you may not be able to look in your underpants and see spotting or bleeding, you will need to find a way to track your cycle so that you know when to anticipate it. Notice how many days occur between cycles. Listen to your body’s signals, like cramps or changes in mood to signal an ongoing period. If your period does come unexpectedly, you may feel wetness in your underwear.
- Use a pad, tampon, or menstrual cup to deal with the blood. You might want to start using them a day or two before you expect your period just to be safe.
- If you use a smartphone, download an application to track your period and know when you anticipate it.
- The National Braille Press has a book entitled, "The Period Book: Everything you Don't want to ask but Need to Know."
- Boys should know that girls experience periods and not to be afraid of them.
Discuss changes for boys.Boys may experience sudden or unexpected erections. This means that the penis becomes bigger, harder, and stands away from your body for no apparent reason. This can happen at any time and may fill you with embarrassment. Know that it’s perfectly normal and nothing is wrong with you. It will go away with time.
- Even if other people cannot see your erection, you may become embarrassed. You can use your shirt, backpack, book, or any other item to cover up if you feel embarrassed.
- ”Wet dreams” may occur while sleeping. This means that your penis becomes erect during the night and emits semen. You may wake up with your underwear or sheets wet.
Coping with Emotional Changes
Recognize that you’re normal.You may feel like you’re alone in experiencing puberty because it’s more difficult to compare your body to your peers. All the changes you experience are likely normal. Even though it may be difficult to compare your body to those around you, the experiences you have and the changes you notice are likely happening to others your age.
- Your body may change at different times than your peers. There’s likely no reason to be concerned. If you are worried, talk to a physician.
- You are not alone in going through puberty. Lots of other teens are also feeling alone or anxious throughout puberty.
Cope with your emotions.You may feel moody or like your emotions change rapidly. You might experience extreme emotions and feel out of control. Perhaps you feel energetic, then sleepy, which can affect your moods. Know that these feelings will often eventually level out.
- Your parents may become concerned or annoyed by your moods. Remember (and remind them) that your hormones change how you feel.
- Talk to someone about your feelings or journal about them. Use dictation software or audio record yourself to reflect on it later.
See a therapist.If you feel very sad, anxious, or have difficulty controlling your emotions, a therapist can help you work through these things. If you’re struggling with changes to your family (like divorce), loss, breakups, bullying, or other problems that feel too big to handle on your own, a therapist can help you work through problems and discover ways to cope.
- Especially if you go to a mostly-sighted school, you may feel like you have difficulty fitting in, especially around puberty. A therapist is someone you can talk to about these concerns.
- Find a therapist by contacting your insurance provider or local mental health clinic.
QuestionWhat if I'm going blind during puberty as a girl?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe steps in the article should still help you. If you are worried about going blind (assuming your doctor or someone told you and it's not an exaggeration or assumption), remember you can always talk to someone about it and get the help you need.Thanks!
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