Columnist

Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 6–8 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

I thought these questions from 11 and 12-year-olds in my growing up classes might bring joy. As always, they are 100% real and unedited for content. I answer all questions. Education matters.

Q. What if I don’t want my “uteruesse?” It and periods are nothing but trouble.

12-year-old

Dr. Mary Jo’s Response: The body part is called a “uterus” and it is part of you. It’s a good part of your body. You may not feel you need a uterus right now, but you may like this body part as an adult if you decide to have a child.

You’re not alone in thinking periods are annoying, yet they are a sign your body is working as it should. I’ve often wished a person could control when they start menstruating, which is another word for periods. The period or menstrual cycle includes ovulation – the release of an egg or ova. The ova is one half of what’s needed to make a baby. The other half is sperm.

If only people could push a button and send a signal to their bodies at the exact moment when they decide to be parents. We could avoid years of periods. Part of growing into adulthood is learning to appreciate our amazing bodies. I have faith in you. You’ll get there.

Q. If I stretch every night will I get tall? My brother says I will but I think he’s lying.

11-year-old

Dr. Mary Jo’s Response: Sadly, your suspicion is correct. Yes, your brother is lying. The good news is you’re just starting puberty and your body will grow for many years. Each person is unique. Your height will be just right for you.

Q. My sister told me that my breasts will never be big like hers. How does she know? Is she right?

11-year-old

Dr. Mary Jo’s Response: Your breasts, like every part of you, will be exactly right for you. No two people are the same. I hope you’ll be happy with your body as it grows and changes.

Q. If I had a period like girls do, where would the stuff come out?

11-year-old

Dr. Mary Jo’s Response: People with a uterus and vagina have periods. A male body has neither. Periods only happen in bodies with a uterus. Your question shows you’re thinking through the body parts we talked about in class. Wonderful. I’m glad you asked this question. Even though many girls have told me they want boys to have periods, the truth is, without a uterus, periods cannot happen.

Q. How can I make hair grow on my face? I look like a kid and guys in my class are already shaving.

12-year-old

Dr. Mary Jo’s Response: Research tells us the toughest puberty journey is a late developing male. I feel for you. It can be frustrating to see your friends’ bodies changing in ways you would like your body to change. Puberty is out of our control.

Facial hair arrives at different times for each person. There’s nothing anyone can do to make facial hair develop earlier.

Puberty lasts many years and is unique to your body. When you look at other guys, try to remember your body will continue to mature until your early 20s. I know it’s hard to wait. Focus on what brings you joy, like playing video games, reading a good book, enjoying sports and learning new skills. Enjoy each day. Please try to remember your worthiness is not based on facial hair.

Q. I knew girls had a “Virginia,” but I didn’t know they had a vulva. That’s fire.

11-year-old

Dr. Mary Jo’s Response: A vagina is a female body part. “Virginia,” however, is a state. I’m glad you’re learning the right names for body parts. Good for you. Some adults don’t know the word vulva.

As an “older” person, I’m not 100% sure, but I think the adjective “fire” in this case refers to something excellent. I agree.

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email podmj@healthyteens.com.

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