So, what is puberty? Well, it’s the first stage of adolescence, when your body begins to change and you start your journey from childhood into adulthood. Puberty begins when the pituitary gland, a gland the size of a pea, near the brain, gives your body the signal to release hormones, whose job it is to trigger the growth and development of your reproductive organs, at the same time as causing these changes in your body. Girls can start puberty any time between 9 and 15 years of age, and any time within this period is completely normal.
In girls, a hormone released by the pituitary gland makes the ovaries produce oestrogen, whereas in boys, the same hormone tells the testicles that it’s time to start producing testosterone.
Oestrogen and testosterone are responsible for developing the secondary characteristics in girls and boys, such as the development of breasts in girls and facial and body hair in boys.
The changing levels of hormones can also cause mood swings, making you feel a bit down one minute and happy the next. Don’t worry, this is all part of puberty.
Another way of answering the question, ‘what is puberty?’ is that it’s when your hormones finish the job of developing your reproductive system. If you’re a girl, this means that you start ovulating, and if you’re a boy, you start producing sperm. This in turn means that, once you reach puberty, boys can fertilise an egg, and girls can get pregnant.