Puberty

Puberty means the time of change when boys and girls gradually grow into young adults.

Changes to your body will happen over time and the speed of change will be different for each person. Its normal for people to start developing at different times so try not to compare yourself to other people. As well as the physical signs you may find yourself sometimes feeling a little moody or emotional.

It can be an awkward time for a young person to go through. But it may help to know that everybody has to go through it .

WHEN DOES PUBERTY START?

The age at which you start developing into an adult depends on what sex you are. Boys usually change any time between 10 and 18 years-old where girls tend to show signs of development slightly earlier, between 9 and 17 years of age.

A late or early start is neither ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and will not affect what you will be like as an adult.

HOW DOES PUBERTY START?

Nobody, not even doctors or scientists, really understand how puberty starts. It’s not like pressing a button. But we do know that at the start of puberty your brain begins to make special substances which send messages to other parts of your body. These messages contain information which causes your body to grow and change.

CHANGES TO YOUR BODY

Boys can expect the following to happen-

Your voice deepens, your muscles develop and your chest gets broader, your genitals(penis and testicles) grow larger, your nipples can become sensitive for a short time and may have some swelling, hair grows under your arms,on your legs,chest, genitals and face(upper lip and chin)- you may choose to start shaving.

Your penis may seem to have a mind of its own! Erections happen when you are sexually excited and often even when you aren’t. During an erection the penis becomes stiff, longer and wider and sticks outwards and upwards.

You may also have wet dreams. This is when you lose semen from your penis during sleep.

 

Girls can expect the following to happen-

Your nipples and breasts start to swell and fill out, your body shape grows more rounded and curvy with a slim waist and broader hips, hair grows under your arms, on your legs and genitals and your periods start.

Its normal to begin to have a slight clear or milky discharge from the vagina, which keeps the vagina healthy. The amount of discharge can vary from day to day.

 

Both girls and boys will notice that their height increases, you may get spots and the sweat glands under your arms and between your legs become more active.

 

As well as changes to the outside of your body that you can see, there are also a number of changes that occur inside your body which you may not be aware of.

Some of the changes may affect how you are feeling, you may feel sad, angry, moody, upset, and confused. All these feelings are normal, but if you do feel sad, upset or anything else you should talk to a friend about them, maybe your parents/carer or a trusted adult. Mood swings, going from happy to sad are also normal but can be upsetting, especially when you don’t understand why your feeling like you do, sharing how you feel can help you feel better.

BODY HAIR

As you grow older you’ll notice hair starting to grow on other parts of your body besides your head. Thicker, shorter, curlier hair called ‘pubic hair’ will appear around your genitals. It may be a slightly different colour from the hair on your head. Hair also begins to grow under your arms. Some young woman remove this hair but there is no medical reason why anyone should.

Both boys and girls get hair on their arms and legs during puberty but boys’ hair is usually much easier to see as it is thicker and darker. During the later stages of puberty many boys grow hair on their faces, chests, stomachs, shoulders and backs. They may also notice that the hair on the back of the hands becomes thicker and darker.