Friday, July 19, 2019
Home Biological aspects of sexuality Anatomy & development At puberty girls develop a child-bearing capacity

At puberty girls develop a child-bearing capacity

To be motivated to care for children, women need certain characteristics. Foremost, they need to be less driven than men are about following their own pursuits. Secondly, they need to enjoy nurturing others. Women need to deal with men who can be ruthlessly aggressive. Women have evolved a survival strategy of being more passive and cooperative. Men tend to disrespect this female amenability, which is considered a weakness in men. From a young age, most girls demonstrate a more passive and timid personality than most boys. Girls focus on social activities and rather than physically active play. This gender difference is apparent before puberty.

An early sign of puberty is the growth of pubic hair, which begins at 12.3 years of age on average. Female puberty focuses a woman’s reproductive role rather than her responsiveness. A girl’s growth is completed by 15.8 years old. Regular ovulation does not begin until sixteen to eighteen years of age. A woman has a monthly cycle including ovulation and her period. The age of first menstruation ranges from 9 to 25 years but the median girl starts periods at age 13. A period involves losing the cell lining of the womb (not liquid blood but more like gelatinous clots) that builds up each month.

In girls the appearance of the breast bud is the first sign of puberty, though the appearance of pubic hair precedes it in about one-third. The uterus and vagina develop simultaneously with the breast. The labia and clitoris also enlarge. Menarche, the first menstrual period, is a late event in the sequence. The early cycles are often irregular and do not include ovulation.

Most women ovulate anywhere between Day 11 and Day 21 of their cycle, counting from the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP). Women use sanitary pads or tampons to absorb the blood. Some women spend days in bed with stomach cramps and have pre-menstrual tension (PMT), which can make them bad-tempered. Other women experience no period pains.

A woman has a life-time supply of eggs within her body from the day she is born. After puberty, a woman ovulates automatically (without conscious awareness). One mature egg is released from an ovary each month. After the egg is released, it moves down into the fallopian tube where it stays for about 24 hours. A woman can conceive (if sperm are present from a recent ejaculation) during that time. If the egg is not fertilized during that time, the egg disintegrates and menstruation (blood flow) begins 2 weeks later. A woman can be impregnated any time she has intercourse. A man only needs to ejaculate into her vagina (or close to it). Sperm can sometimes enter the vagina if a man ejaculates just outside. To know the days when she is fertile, a woman needs to keep a temperature chart. Few women do this and so assume that they may conceive any time after their period ends.

Female anatomy is more susceptible to infection than the male because of the proximity of the orifices: urethra, vagina and anus. The opening to the vaginal lies between the urethra and the anus. A woman needs to wash either side of the vaginal opening including cleaning the folds between the labia majora. When a woman washes between her legs, she needs to use soap and lather the pubic hair on either side of her labia majora (outer lips or skin folds). As she ages, these become wrinkly and slightly baggy, reminiscent of the male scrotum, which is the equivalent male anatomy.

Women are persuaded to buy vaginal douches in the belief that the vagina is dirty. There is nothing inherently unclean about the vagina. Douches can be dangerous and should not be used without medical advice. A woman should wash between her buttocks and her anus separately (the vulva and labia can be washed from the front), by reaching her hand down behind. A woman does not need to clean inside the labia minora (inner lips or skin folds), which are much more delicate and lead into the vagina. She can insert a finger into the vagina to check for discharge. Some of these are healthy but others arise from infections such as thrush. These discharges mark women’s underwear, which most women find highly embarrassing. A woman considers her monthly period to be an unhygienic and distasteful body function that is often associated with unpleasant smells. She hides any view of her menstrual blood flow from others, including her lover, because she considers the whole process to be very unattractive. For this reason, women are appalled by some men’s fascination with women’s underwear.

Male puberty causes men to have a new curiosity in their own genitals and also in any opportunity to observe nudity in others. Female adolescence does not include this sudden and intense increase in responsiveness that boys experience. Women may have a general curiosity about genitals just as children do. Women are not automatically aroused by hormones as men are. Neither are they aroused by observing or thinking about the genitals of a lover. So most women are not remotely curious about masturbation.

… the capacity to reproduce is not synonymous with the capacity to be aroused erotically and to respond to the point of orgasm … (Alfred Kinsey 1953)