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Puberty

Puberty is the process of physical maturation where an adolescent reaches sexual maturity and becomes capable of reproduction. On average, puberty typically begins between 8 and 13 in females and 9 and 14 in males

Physical Changes for Girls

Physical changes for girls around puberty

The physical changes that happen for girls around puberty include:

  • Body shape - Your hips will widen and your body will get curvier.

  • Height - You will grow taller.

  • Acne - You may develop acne. This is a condition of the skin that shows up as bumps – most commonly on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back and chest. These bumps can be blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. Hormonal changes during puberty cause acne in teens.

  • Breast growth and tenderness - The first stage of breast growth is called ‘budding’. Sometimes the breasts are different sizes. The breasts may be tender during this time. This is normal, but speak with your doctor if you are worried.

  • Hair growth - Hair will start to grow around the pubic area and under your arms, and hair on your legs and arms will darken.

  • Vaginal discharge - You may start to get a clear or whitish discharge from your vagina. This is a normal, natural self-cleaning process.

  • Periods - Your menstrual periods will start. Periods are part of a monthly cycle where the lining of the uterus (womb) thickens as the body gets ready for pregnancy. Once a month, the lining is shed over a few days, if a pregnancy has not happened.

  • Period irregularity - Even though periods work as a cycle, that cycle can take different amounts of time each month. For example, you might get your period after 24 days one month and after 42 days the next. These are called irregular periods. Irregular periods are very common, especially in the first few years of getting your period.

  • Period pain- You may start to have pain or cramps just before or at the start of your period. Exercise, a hot water bottle held to the abdomen (tummy) or over-the-counter pain medication may help. If the pain gets too much, see a doctor.

Physical Changes for Boys

The physical changes that happen for boys around puberty include:

  • Height and muscle growth - You will get taller and stronger and start to grow muscle. This occurs at different rates for everyone.

  • Acne - You may develop acne. This is a condition of the skin that shows up as bumps – most commonly on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back and chest. These bumps can be blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. Hormonal changes during puberty cause acne in teens.

  • Voice changes - Your voice will get deeper. This is sometimes called ‘voice breaking’ because of the ups and downs in voice tone.

  • Hair growth - Body hair starts to grow around the pubic area, legs, under the arms and on the face. It starts off fine and then gets thicker and darker. Some young men keep growing and getting more body hair into their 20s.

  • Genital growth - Your testicles and penis will get bigger. It is normal for one testicle to be bigger than the other. Some boys worry about their penis size, but sexual function, including the ability to have sex and father children, does not depend on penis size. Talk to a doctor if you are worried.

  • Wet dreams - You may have wet dreams, where you ejaculate in your sleep. This is a normal part of growing up.

  • Erections - Sometimes erections happen when you get nervous or excited, or for no reason at all, which can make you feel embarrassed. Other people will not usually notice them and they will go away after a few minutes.

  • Breast changes - You may get some breast growth and tenderness. This is a normal response to the changing hormones in your body and will eventually go away.

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