Women’s Retrospective Experience of Puberty and Physical Impact

Understanding women’s retrospective experience of puberty and how this impacted physical activity participation


Background information:

Puberty is a phenomenon that begins during early adolescence when the women experience both physical and psychological changes in their body and mind (Knowles, Niven and Fawkner, 2014). As opined byHawkey,  Perz and Metusela, (2017) the puberty is referred as the integrative, complex and coordinated transition which is experienced by the changes in body, behaviour, brain, emotion and cognition. The women during this phase may experience a number of changes in the physical body, such as changes in height, changes in reproductive organs and also may experience changes in social relationships. In this stage, the girls also may start to menstruate and also may experience a number of changes in their emotional and physical bodies (Bailey, Arent and Petitpas, 2013). However, during this period, somehow, the girls may experience difficulties to maintain their physical activity and sports (Bailey, Arent and Petitpas, 2013). During this period, the girls may experience some discomfort or pain due to changes in prostaglandin and sex-steroid hormone, which may cause leg cramps, stomach cramps, back cramps, headaches, and rapid changes of mood, tiredness feelings and loss of appetite (Vincent and Tracey, 2008). All these barriers resist the girls to actively participate in different sports and program (Knowles, Niven and Fawkner, 2014). Therefore, during this period, the girls need to be encouraged to stay active by controlling the symptoms. During puberty, the girls need to be active that can boost their mood also would help in feelings relaxed (Sports Medicine Australia, 2015). The society also should encourage teenage girls to be engaged with different physical activities to reduce their stress level during puberty. It is also important for the parents to support their girls by not putting any pressure on them. They also should support their children in adopting various strategies to reduce stress during this period of time. The society and parents also should support their children to maintain proper health and diet during this period. The foods with high sugar should be avoided, and the girls should be encouraged to consume more fibre, vegetables and fruits, to balance a healthy diet (Bailey, Arent and Petitpas, 2013). Therefore, this particular research study mainly focuses upon the understanding women’s retrospective experience of puberty and how this impacted their physical activity and participation.

Aims and objectives:

The core aim of this qualitative research study is to understand the women’s retrospective experiences of puberty and how this impacted physical activity participation.

In order to effectively analyze the entire research study, the various objectives are as summarized below;

  • To analyze experiences of adolescent girls during puberty, those are affecting their participation in physical activity
  • To gain insight into the importance of being physically active by adolescent girls, during puberty
  • To recommend effective strategies to boost adolescent girls’ activity level for improving their experience during puberty

Research questions:

The different research questions for critically analyzing the research study are as listed below;

  • What are the experiences adolescent girls face during puberty stage?
  • How are these experiences affecting their participation in physical activities?
  • Why is being active important for adolescent girls undergoing puberty?
  • What could be recommended to improvise the activity level of adolescent girls during puberty?

Research rationale:

Puberty is a key transition stage in life, which comes with several changes, while it indicates growth and maturity. However, studies highlighted that individual experiences several new physical and psychological phenomenon during this stage of life, which affects their lifestyle as well as overall wellbeing (Brooks-Gunn and Ruble, 2013). Researchers have identified this stage, with the highest level of transition away from sports and physical activities among females (Hope and Yungblut, 2012). As it is established previously that physical activity is a key way for a person to live a healthy life and eliminate health risks, it is crucial to understand the experiences or reasons, which are responsible for creating barriers for the adolescent girls to participate in physical activity. It is important for health care practitioners to find effective ways to eliminate those barriers and influence adolescent girls to be active during puberty.

In the current context, it is also noteworthy that the issue has been identified before, and some studies have been conducted to overcome barriers and promote facilitators by creating gender-relevant programs. In spite of this effort, the issue is still persisting, which is a key reason for gender disparity in sports and physical activity-related aspects. It has further enhanced the significance of the current research, which would not only identify the experiences creating discouragement for the girls to take part in physical activities; but, also contributing in the research for eliminating such gender disparity. In this context, some recent researches have been undertaken, which signifies the need for conducting an in-depth qualitative study to understand the current context on the issue and the further step needed.

Literature Review:

Concept of puberty in female:

Different previous scholars and psychologists have conducted different research studies on this particular fact. Puberty period has been categorized within 5 stages with distinct features, by Professor Tanner, through which noticeable changes appear among both boys and girls, which highlights their sign of maturity. During stage 4 among girls, their menstruation cycle begins, and they experience the first period, during around age 13 years (Gill, 2018). Between the ages of 9 to 12 the girls may experience their physical and psychological changes towards adolescence (Gill, 2018). Reviewing the literature, it is found that during this phase, the girls may experience several problems like rapid changing mood, stomach pains, headaches, back pain etc. These barriers may deter girls from maintaining their physical activity. Different reviews have stated that during this stage, the girls may be depressed due to different physical and mental problems. Therefore, the society and parents of the children should support and encourage their children to maintain their physical activity and another normal day to day activities, via empowering them with coping strategies and creating a supportive environment to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

Puberty and physical and psychological changes in women:

According to the study of Jackson and Falmagne, (2013), it is observed that during the stage of puberty, girls may experience both physical and psychological changes in their body and mind. The physical changes within women in the period of adolescence can be noticeable, but this also has impacted on psychological changes. During the stage of puberty, the girls may experience growth with several inches. However, changes are case-specific, the growth pattern is distinct among individual girl, which causes some to grow faster and others slower, during the age between 9 to 15 years mainly (Gill, 2018). As per Professor tanning’s classification, the key physiological changes through puberty stages are noted in the following table.

Table: Stages of puberty among girls

(Source: Gill, 2018)

Furthermore, they also may experience a number of psychological changes such as changing of moods, feeling depressed, alone, which prevent them from maintaining their day to day physical activity. The ongoing physical changes and maturation process directly influences the needs, moods and interests. As opined byLabbrozzi, Bucci and Bortoli, (2013) the judgment of the society and other people also may affect the children’s mind that is undergoing through the puberty changes. The parents also may face some common problems with their irritable and moody children during the stages of puberty.

Impacts of puberty stage on women’s physical activity:

During the stages of puberty, the woman starts to experience different changes towards maturity. Both the physical and mental changes are responsible for developing the stages of puberty. During this phase, the girls’ transition-related experience makes them uncomfortable to engage in physical activities (Hope and Yungblu, 2012). Researchers have also highlighted girls’ opinion, who has found themselves low esteemed to take part in physical activity or have highlighted their pain experiences, body dissatisfaction, which discouraged them from being physically active during this phase. At the same time, emotional and psychological aspects, including mood swing or depression, could also be the reason for discouragement (Vincent and Tracey, 2008). The menstrual cycle may also constantly change during this period which results in psychological changes such as appetite, headache, rapid changing of moods etc. Adolescent girls also may experience pain due to the irregularity of their menstrual cycle. The chronological age has a significant negative impact on the engagement in physical activity among both sexes; but inactivity is less found to be less likely among boys, compared to girls (Finne et al., 2011). The researchers also found that the likeliness of participating in physical activity is less among girls, who have irregular menstruation. During this phase, the girls may face difficulties to follow their regular lifestyle and activities. However, research was done by Knowles, Niven and Fawkner, (2014) says that during this puberty phase of life, the girls need to be active. By maintaining normal lifestyles and proper food and diet, the girls with puberty can effectively change their life towards adolescence (Drenowatz, Eisenmann, Pfeiffer, Wickel, Gentile and Walsh, 2010). Finne et al., 2011) highlighted the need for further investigation on identifying the link between “sociocultural influences, social support or increasing time requirements for education” and the physical activity level among the adolescent girls, reaching puberty, in order to understand its impact. The parents also should encourage their children to avoid mental illness and psychological problems to develop their growth. The influence of society also may affect women to develop their physical activity during the puberty stages.


From the entire study, the different reviews of the past psychologists on women’s puberty can be identified. The study has addressed the concept of puberty and how it changes the physical and mental health of the girl. The review also has analyzed the impacts of puberty stages on women’s physical activity.

Gaps in literature:

Through the brief literature review in the above section, it is revealed that the existing evidence has focused more on the physiological impact of puberty upon mental and psychological health of adolescent girls. However, relevant evidence exploring the girls’ experiences during the puberty and the issues they face, while participating in physical activities is less. There is a need for extensive research on identifying the factors shaping negative experience associated with puberty, which might have a significant influence on the discouragement of girls to take part in physical activity. Not only the physiological aspect, rather socio-cultural, environmental, parental and mental influences should also be explored to understand their puberty experiences. At the same time, the specific importance of physical activities in eliminating discouragement and improving experiences should also be investigated more in an explorative manner.

Proposed methodology:


This particular section of the research proposal will highlight the methods for analyzing the research study. This section of the research method will focus on research philosophy, research approach, research strategy, data collection technique, sampling procedure and ethical considerations to analyze the women’s retrospective experiences of puberty and how this impacted physical activity participation.

Research philosophy:

The research philosophy is referred to as the overall belief and ideas of the researcher for collecting and analyzing data for the research. The appropriate selection of the research philosophy would help to identify the research design and strategy of the research. As opined by Saleh, Lead and Lowry, (2015), the research philosophy of conducting the research is of four major types such as positivism, interpretivism, realism and pragmatism. For this particular research study, the interpretivism research philosophy would be undertaken because this research philosophy would help to conduct subjective interpretation to form new concepts considering the research gaps.

Research design:

Oļehnoviča and Zariņa (2016) highlighted the importance of the right research design selection in research. In this current study, an “exploratory qualitative research design” would be adopted because this particular research study aims to explore the understanding of women’s retrospective experiences of puberty and how this impacted physical activity participation through the conceptual knowledge and subject matter, thereby seeking exploration of a wide range of resources. Such research practices would be supported by exploratory design, as it helps the researcher to investigate and gain knowledge by exploring wider resources. Such design is more suitable, when adopted with qualitative strategy, as helps to gather high quality and descriptive data from resources, which is crucial to explore the current issue.

Data collection techniques:

This research would mainly resort to using primary qualitative data collection technologies, such as using the interview. An interview would be a good choice here; because, it assists the researcher to gather in-depth data from the participants, including their views, opinions, experiences and feelings. The interview questions would contain questions which would help to assess the retrospective experience of the puberty and its impacts on physical activity among the women. Mainly, the interview questionnaire would be formed, including a flexible, open-ended questionnaire, consisting descriptive questions, which would allow participants to share their experiences and feelings (Fiksdal, Pathak and McCormick, 2014). The questionnaire would be designed upon taking help from relevant resources, including existing literature on a similar issue. Since women are the main target population; adult women would be targeted mainly, who could be able to share their experiences during their adolescence and their view on physical activity level.  Adolescent girls are not included in the study, as there could be a higher risk of unethical practice regarding their consents, and they can be subjected to a higher risk of harm during the research. 20 women would be interviewed, and data would be collected further for analysis.

Research Strategy:

It is important that findings from the resources would be discussed with a qualitative approach. Therefore, the results that would be obtained from the interview among the adult women would be deeply evaluated and then corresponding qualitative analysis would be made from the data obtained, through content analysis method. Quantitative analysis using statistical tools and techniques would not be pursued in this research. So qualitative analysis of primary data would be part of the research strategy. The physical activity levels and the impact of the experience on the physical activity level would be measured in a descriptive manner, through content analysis and evaluating those with the existing literatures, to understand the relation among the research variables.

Sampling procedure:

Effective sampling process can help to find the valid outcome from the entire research. This particular study will use the non-probability sampling method to select the participants of the interview as it helps to ensure that the right resources are included in the research (Taherdoost, 2016). A sample of 20 participants, attending a physical fitness centre would be chosen using the mentioned sampling method, considering their interest in physical activity.

Expected results:

The research is expected to identify the key factors associated with the adolescent girls’ experiences during puberty, which are actually affecting their physical, psychological wellbeing and participation in physical activities. The theoretical conception from the in-sight research will be identified in this study. The different thoughts and opinions of the reviews also will be interpreted to investigate the research objectives. Additionally, the research results are also expected to find and suggest some key strategies; those could help women to support other adolescent girls to cope with the negative aspects regarding their experiences and be more encouraged to participate in physical activities.

Research Timeline

Activities Week 1 to week 5 Week 6 to week 11 Week 12 to Week 17 Week 18 to week 23 Week 24 to week 29 Week 30 to week 35 Week 36 to week 40
Topic selection and developing the research objectives
Defining research questions
Literature review
Defining and selecting the research methods
Primary qualitative data collection
Findings and data analysis
Conclusion and recommendations



The proposed research and above discussed theoretical application also will analyze the impact of the women’s puberty, related experiences and how this affected physical activity participation. Selection of the right methods would help the researcher to shape the study in the right way and ensure overall success by answering the research question and meeting the objectives.