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What is puberty all about?

The puberty starts as kids enter their early teens. Those are the improvements that will lead to maturity and child-bearing potential.

Developments influence the body in terms of scale, shape, and composition, as well as processes and function within the internal body. There’s also psychological and social change. During the first half of puberty, boys and girls grow quickly, and stop growing when puberty is completed.

Hormone signals from the brain tell the body it is time to start puberty. The signals would go in females to the ovaries and in males to the testes.

The ovaries and testes, in response, produce a range of hormones that promote growth and change in various parts of the body including reproductive organs, breasts, skin, muscles , bones, hair, and brain.


Puberty varies between the boys and girls in a variety of ways. Girls begin puberty around 1 to 2 years earlier than boys, and generally they end up faster.

Puberty in boys and girls
Puberty can be an exciting and challenging time.

Girls reach adult height and can have children about 4 years after the first physical signs of puberty, but after the first visible signs the boys continue to develop for about 6 years.

A girl’s puberty will range from 9 to 14 years of age, while a boy lasts from 10 to 17 years of age.

Testosterone and androgen are primary male sex hormones. Testosterone causes the changes associated with virilization, or “becoming male,” including a deeper voice, facial hair and muscle development.

Female development is primarily dependent on estrogen and estradiol. Estradiol encourages uterine and breast growth.

There is estradiol in both males and females, but rates increase faster in girls than in boys, and women have higher levels than men. Similarly, testosterone plays a part in the growth of women but to a lesser degree than that of males.

Puberty in females

The female sexual organs develop during puberty, and menstruation begins. Pregnancy can happen after this.

The first symptom may be a vaginal discharge, and body hair appearing in the pubic area, under the arms, and on the legs.

Skin becomes more oily, and the body creates more sweat, requiring deodorant. It is because the glands develop in oil and sweat. Acne is common too.

Changes in body shape and body size appear:

  • The breasts start to grow, often starting with a small and sometimes painful lump just below the nipple
  • The hips widen, the waist becomes proportionally smaller, and extra fat will develop on the stomach and buttocks
  • The arms, legs, hands, and feet may grow faster than other parts of the body.

During this stage of development some girls feel awkward but it is normal. It’s natural to accumulate extra fat and it doesn’t necessarily mean the girl is overweight.

Emotions can fluctuate, causing irritability, especially during monthly period time. That is because the rates of hormones differ over the menstrual cycle.

If the emotional changes are too severe, a doctor may be able to offer therapy or recommend improvements in lifestyle that may help, such as daily physical activity to help relieve the premenstrual tension (PMT) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Puberty in males

The scrotum gets thinner and redder as boys reach puberty, and the testicles begin to develop. The penis grows and lengthens at about the age of 13 years.

The voice box, or larynx, is becoming larger, the muscles or vocal cords are expanding, and the voice can “break” or “crack,” and gradually deeper.

Puberty in males
Boys grow in size and strength, and their social and emotional life changes too.

When the boy ejaculates while sleeping, and wakes up in the morning to find damp sheets and pyjamas, there might be “wet dreams” During this time, even, involuntary erections can occur.

Such things happen automatically, usually without touching the penis and without having sexual thoughts or fantasies on the boy. He can’t stop it from happening: this is just part of growing up.

The enlargement to the breast isn’t rare. Hormonal changes may cause a bump to feel tender, or even painful, under one or both nipples. The swelling and pain will finally vanish.

The skin is more oily, and there will be more sweat due to that oil and sweat glands. Deodorant may be needed. Acne is common.

Body size will change, and growth spurts will come, peaking around 2 years after puberty starts.

The arms , legs, hands , and feet can grow faster than other parts of the body, which can make the boy feel torn. The overall content of body fat will begin to decrease as muscle develops.

Body hair begins to grow around the pubic area, under the arms, on the legs and arms, and facial hair grows around the chin and upper lip.

Facial hair can be shaved off. It can cause a rash, especially if the boy has sensitive skin, but shaving foam or gel can help prevent rashes. Electric razors reduce the chance of cutbacks.

Emotions change, and mood changes can happen. The young man may feel like laughing for one moment and then immediately he may feel like crying. The feelings of rage can be intense.

It is partially due to the elevated levels of hormones in the body but also because it can be difficult to cope with all the physical changes taking place.

At this time, both boys and girls might need help, such as an older family member or a friend to talk about the changes and how to handle them.

Early puberty

Evidence indicates puberty starts earlier now. There are two forms of early puberty, one of which can require medical attention.

A survey of 1,200 American girls found in 2010, as calculated by breast development, that 10.4 percent of white non-Hispanic girls had begun puberty at age 7, and 18.3 percent had begun at 8 years old.

The increase is significant compared with a similar study in 1997.

The premature appearance of pubic hair and body odor are common signs of early transition. Girls can see early breast development, but this is mostly fatty tissue and it is considered non-progressive development.

Most of these are variations of normal growth and physical development. They are not considered a matter of concern, and there are no suggested treatments.

It is thought that this form of early puberty is a combination of genetics, the environment, and individual factors such as weight.

In comparison, precocious puberty may indicate underlying issues.

Puberty may be called precocious if it starts in girls before age 7-8, and in boys before age 9. Girls with progressive breast development over a 4- to 6-month observation period or boys with progressive penis and testicular enlargement, and overall rapid growth, may need medical treatment.

Therapies may be needed that will temporarily stop the hormone effects , especially if the imbalance may cause problems later in life, such as weak bones or lack of growth.

Late puberty

When a girl has no signs of breast growth by 14 years of age, or no menstrual cycle by 16 years of age, or if a boy’s testicles have not grown by 14 years of age, they will see a doctor.

A blood test will show some issues with the hormones. An MRI or ultrasonic scan will indicate if the glands are working correctly.

Late puberty root factors include eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and hormonal problems, such as an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism.

Diabetes, kidney disease, or asthma can cause late puberty and it can be caused by genetic disorders such as androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS). AIS is when other hormones aren’t used by the body.

Late puberty can normally be treated with success, often with the use of hormone drugs.

Puberty can be a difficult stage of development not only physically but also mentally and emotionally for young people. Having family members and friends in support at this time is really necessary