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Puberty

Girl at school.

Pimples. Bigger breasts. Body hair. Moody moments. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re likely on the path of puberty. It’s a road everyone travels, and it certainly has its bumps. But it’s also an amazing time. Puberty is when you start making the change from being a child to being an adult. And it’s when your body develops the ability to have a baby. It all happens thanks to changing hormones, or natural body chemicals.

With everything that’s changing, life can feel a little overwhelming. But you can feel more in control if you take good care of your body. Knowing what to expect can help too, so keep reading.

  • For girls, one of the first signs of puberty usually is starting to have larger breasts.
  • Getting your period (menstruation) usually happens last, around two years after breast growth starts.
  • In between, you’ll probably start to see more hair in places like under your arms and in your pubic area.

Of course, it can be hard to have your body change at a slower or faster rate than your friends’ bodies. If how fast or how slow your body is changing is upsetting you, talk to an adult you trust. And keep in mind that there’s no exact schedule for puberty. For girls, it usually starts between the ages of 8 and 13. It can start as early as 6 or 7, though. Usually, girls finish going through puberty by around 14. For boys, puberty usually starts between 10 and 14, and usually is finished by around 15 or 16.

If you’re developing slower or faster than you think you should, your body may just be changing at its own natural rate. But if you’re concerned, you doctor can check whether a medical problem is involved.

Don’t forget that puberty also involves changes you can’t see — like changes to your self-esteem and your mind. Want to learn more about puberty? Check out these links:

 

Content last reviewed October 13, 2010
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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