8 Things You Should Know About Your Body By The Time You Turn 18

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really know what my actual bra size was until I was a senior in college. Yes, college. I was 21 and was wearing the wrong bra size for years, but I finally got fitted and my literally changed. Still, I’m embarrassed that I spent so many years of my life, especially my teens, not really bothering to make sure the bra I wore actually secured my boobs. WTF, self?

When you think about it, there are probably a ton of things that you don’t know about your body that you probably should. I mean, do you know your measurements? Do you know if your menstruation is normal? Girl, do you ever know what to say when the doctor asks if you have any medical conditions in your family? If the answer to any of these is no, check out these eight things you should know about your body by the time you’re 18. Trust, knowing these little things will make life a little easier.

If Your Period Is Normal

Ask yourself this: Is your period regular or nah? Whether the answer is yes or no matters, yes, but a lot less than not knowing at all. If you menstruate, you should know whether or not your period is irregular; that means, you need to know if a long amount of time goes by between each period, if you experience abnormally painful cramping, if your flow is so heavy that your daily life is severely impacted, etc. If you're super unsure if your period is wonky or not, talk to a doctor. What you might think of as "just the way it is" might actually be part of a larger problem you're not addressing.


Masturbation Isn't Bad For You, Nor Is It Wrong

It's wild that so many of us accept that we can get sexually curious about getting intimate with other people in our teens, but masturbation is still such a taboo. Especially so-called "female masturbation." Listen, by the time you turn 18, you should know that masturbation is normal, it's perfectly healthy, and you won't be struck by lightning if you do it. Hell, if anything masturbation is good for you; it's a way to release stress and reduce painful cramps during that time of the month. Please, try to masturbate as shame-free as possible. You'll be a lot happier that way.

The To-Do List

Know Your Measurements

No, I don't mean whether or not you're a size eight in one store and a size 12 in another, and a size medium in that one store if you buy something with spandex. No, I mean your actual body measurements in inches/centimeters. You should know the measurements around your hips, waist, chest, and inseam (the bit between your crotch and ankle). Why? It makes finding clothes a lot easier if you know what measurements you're working with.

Mean Girls

Your Family's Medical History

This sounds so sterile and boring but trust me: Every single time you go to the doctor or fill out medical paperwork--FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE--will require you to know your family's medical history. That means that you need to know if your mom has high blood pressure, if your aunt had breast cancer, if your sister has a mental illness, etc. Why? Because that helps determine your propensity for developing those illnesses yourself and also helps doctors know what medications you should steer clear of. Also, it's just good to know. So at some point, sit your parents down and ask what's up, for medical purposes. It's a lot better than going to the doctor and looking totally clueless.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Whether Or Not You Have An STD/STI (If You're Sexually Active)

If you're sexually active and have either not gone to hit up a gynecologist yet or haven't told your doctor that you're sexually active...what are you doing? Please, please get yourself checked out. There are some STDs/STIs that don't have obvious symptoms, like blemishes down there or strange discharge. You also need to make sure you keep HPV at bay. This is important, dude, so get on it.


Your Bra Size

As I mentioned in the intro, by the time you're 18, you should have definitely had at least one bra-fitting to help you figure out what your bra size is. Your breasts change a lot in your teens, so you might have to have a few of them! Look, whether you have one or twenty bra fittings, you should be able to wear a bra that fits by the time you enter the world of adulthood.

My Mad Fat Diary

What Regular And Irregular Discharge Looks Like

I know, there isn't enough focus on discharge when you're learning about your body and all that during puberty. But please, by the time you've hit technical adulthood, you should know what kind of discharge is normal (in general and for your body), and what isn't. We have a handy guide here if you need help figuring it out. You should know the difference between a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, discharged caused by an STD, and regular ol' discharge.


Whether You're Overweight Or Not

Listen, here at Gurl we're very pro-body positivity and know that you can't tell whether or not someone is healthy or not just by looking at them. Unfortunately, overweight people are accused of being unhealthy simply based on their waistline, while plenty of people with more socially acceptable body types--and awful health--are ignored. It's unfair and it's wrong. But just because being overweight isn't some sort of moral failing that the world makes it out to be, doesn't mean that you shouldn't know whether or not your are or not. Why? Because you might be overweight, which might be connected to other medical issues that you don't know you have, or don't know you're susceptible to developing. Your weight could even determine the effectiveness of certain medications: did you know that emergency contraception might be ineffective for women over 170 lbs? Here's another example that counts: I'm somewhat overweight, and a recent blood test also indicated that I might have a thyroid issue. Thyroid issues can have a direct impact on your weight and make it difficult to lose weight. Again, being overweight isn't necessarily the end of the world, but it might be helpful to know where your weight rests and whether or not your doctor believes you are largely healthy nevertheless.


Which of these cold hard truths leave you feeling the most nervous? Most hopeful? What other cold hard truths should be on this list? How do you deal? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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