Puberty is the process of growing from a child into an adult and it can be both an amazing and challenging stage of life!
During puberty, the body goes through a series of hormonal and physical changes which prepare the body for adulthood and, particularly, sexual maturity.
There’s no set age for the start of puberty because all bodies change and grow in their own time. However, it it usually starts between the ages of 10 and 14 in girls and around 13 in boys. It can start a few years either side of these ages though, so try not to worry if this is the case for you.
Although we sometimes think of girls and boys going through different physical processes in puberty, the signs and stage can be very similar.
- Both boys and girls are likely to have a sudden growth spurt. They will grow taller very quickly with some body parts like arms or legs growing faster than others.
- Both boys and girls will start to grow body hair. Girls grow hair under their arms and in their pubic area. Boys will also start to grow hair under their arms and pubic area as well as other places like their chest, face, arms and legs.
- Both boys and girls will see changes in their weight and body shape but these changes will differ in a boy or a girl. Girls will start to develop breasts; their hips will widen and as they start to ovulate, their periods will start. Boys’ shoulders will start to broaden and their bodies become more muscular. They will also start to experience wet dreams as their bodies start to produce semen.
- Boys and girls will experience changes and swings in their moods. A mood swing is when you feel a sudden or intense change in your emotional state. With a mood swing, you may find yourself quickly switching from feeling happy and upbeat one minute to feeling sad, irritable or angry the next.
- Both sexes are likely to begin to sweat more. This is because of hormonal changes happening in the body. This sweating will mean that you may need to start using deodorant and showering more to maintain good personal hygiene.
- Unfortunately, getting spots is another sign of puberty and both boys and girls can get them. Spots often occur because of the new hormonal activity occurring in your body, changing the way the skin secretes oil and increasing its production. The oil blocks pores and leads to spots or acne developing. If you are struggling with spots or acne, your doctor or health care professional will be able to help.
This may also be around the time where you start to realise that your gender or sexuality doesn’t match what you have been taught it “should” be.
Some people have one type of body at birth (with either male or female parts) but start to identify as the opposite as they get older. For example, a person who is born as a girl may realise that they really are a boy in their soul and want to grow up as their authentic self.
Others might feel that they have both genders inside them or identify as neither male nor female. There are several terms for this including non-binary, gender fluid or genderqueer. You can read more about these terms and others here.