76 chapter 4: Understanding your body
When your body changes
It is important to be able to ask questions and express
To be a healthy
woman, I need to
your feelings, especially your confusions and fears,
about your changing body and emotions. This is
true throughout your entire life, when puberty,
sexuality, fertility and childbearing, and menopause
know as much as
possible about my
body and why it
can signal great changes for your body and
your health. When you accept your physical
development, emotions, and sexual feelings, you can care for and respect yourself as a
woman. Take the time to examine your own feelings and share them with others:
• Be comfortable with your body and accept your disability as part of your body.
• Learn about sexuality and the responsibilities that accompany sexuality. Older
family members, health workers, counselors, and other adults with disabilities
can be good sources of information.
• Develop and nurture loving, caring relationships with family, friends, and loved
ones. Positive relationships are essential for well-being. These interactions will
provide you with an important support network.
• Interact with other girls and women with disabilities, especially women who
have jobs and are raising families.
• Avoid spending time with people who make you feel bad.
• Be involved in events outside your home. Treat them as opportunities to
explore and develop friendships, and to develop and share the things that you
• Protect yourself from sexual abuse (see Chapter 14).
Helping a girl become a woman
It is important to prepare a girl for the changes her
body will go through as she becomes a woman.
Being a teenager is hard
enough without having
your family pretend that
your body is still that of a
Make sure she learns about monthly bleeding
before she has her first period, and help her prepare to
manage monthly bleeding when it begins.
Help her understand that her physical and emotional changes
Older family members and caregivers can encourage a girl to
talk and ask questions openly by asking about her body’s changes
in a light-hearted way. This lets a girl with disability know, even before she begins
puberty, that the people closest to her are available for questions.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007