When Do Puberty Changes Happen?
Between the ages of 8 and 14 (there’s no exact age, as this varies from person to person), girls notice that their bodies are changing and starting to grow. This stage in your life is called puberty and this is when you start to leave your childhood behind and physically become an adult.
Puberty happens because of a series of hormonal changes that activate and increase the production of what we call "sex hormones": oestrogens in girls and testosterone in boys. These are responsible for the physical changes during puberty. You may hardly notice the first few months of puberty as the changes in your body are only slight until the production of oestrogens (or testosterone for boys) reach a higher level.What Are These Puberty Changes?
Generally speaking, the first physical changes during puberty in girls are breast development and body growth. Other puberty changes are:
- Growth of underarm hair.
- Growth of pubic hair.
- Increase in the thickness and length of body hair.
- Widening of the hips.
- Increase in the fullness of the labia majora and minora, the hymen and the clitoris.
- Change in the sound of the voice.
- Increase in weight.
Finally, to complete puberty, the biggest change is the arrival of your first period.
It’s important to bear in mind that these changes don’t all happen at the same time, they don’t always happen in the same order, or by a certain age, as the whole process can be very different from one girl to the next.
When your breasts start to develop, you’ll notice a firmness underneath the areola, or the outer part of the nipple (on one or both breasts). This can feel a bit uncomfortable and is called "the breast bud". In the following months, at the same time as changes are happening to the nipple and the areola, this bud starts to grow in size, until it forms a mound that you can actually see, and this will continue to develop until it becomes an adult breast. This breast development usually takes between five and nine years.
A "growth spurt" is what we call the quick increase in growth, especially in height, which is particularly noticeable during puberty. The fastest growth spurt in girls tends to coincide with their first period, and from then on growth slows down but physical changes (growth in the breasts, growth of body hair, body growth) go on for a few more years.Your Period
At some point, hormonal changes will cause the ovaries to start releasing the eggs that they’ve been storing since you were born. This will trigger the monthly menstrual cycle, and your period is just one part of this. The fancy word for the arrival of your first period is ‘menarche’. This normally takes quite a while, generally with a gap of two to three years, and at least one year, between the first signs of breast development and the arrival of your first period. So, the average age for starting your periods is between 10 and 16.
Once puberty is in its advanced stages, you enter adolescence, which is a time of psychosocial and cultural changes, where we all start searching for our own identity and become adults psychologically, or in our minds, as well as our bodies. As a rule, it can be said that we undergo physical changes during puberty and psychological changes during adolescence.
As with any period of change, it’s normal to feel confused, uncomfortable or generally a bit out of sorts during puberty and adolescence. But it can also be a very interesting time for experimenting and for exploring and getting used to your body.And What’s It Like For Boys?
Boys normally start to change one or two years later than girls. They also experience physical changes during puberty:
- Body growth and growth in the size of their sex organs.
- Their muscles become more developed.
- They suffer from acne and facial and body hair starts to grow.
- They start to ejaculate and so are able to fertilise eggs and make girls pregnant.