Growing Up

What is Puberty?

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What is Puberty?

Puberty is a phase in your life when you transition from childhood to adulthood. During this phase, you’ll experience different changes to your body as it matures. This includes physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes.

Change can be an exciting but also a confusing time, which is why it is important to know the changes that you’ll experience during puberty, before it happens!

Puberty Changes

Common puberty changes between boys and girls such as growing taller, growing hair, emotional changes, acne, sweating more and gaining weight!

Other common puberty changes for boys:

  • Grow taller, gain weight and shoulders get wider
  • May develop a deeper voice
  • Penis and testes gets larger
  • Hair growth (pubic hair, underarm hair and facial hair)  
  • Experience erections when nervous or excited

These are common changes boys will experience during puberty. To read more about puberty in boys and other changes, click here.

Other common puberty changes for girls:

  • Grow taller, bodies become curvier and hip bones widen
  • Hair growth (pubic hair and underarm hair)
  • Breast development
  • Menstruation
  • Vaginal discharge

These are common changes girls will experience during puberty. To read more about puberty in girls and other changes, click here.

As mentioned above, puberty are not only physical changes but includes emotional, social and cognitive changes. The way you think may change, your relationships may change and your mood may change as well.

When does puberty start?

Puberty usually starts at age 10-14 for girls, and between the ages 12-16 for boys. Different things such as nutrition and other environmental factors may influence the timing of puberty. However, it is important to note that everyone is different and everyone will go through it at their own pace.

Change is often hard and that is why puberty can be a challenging and stressful time for children. It may also be a very confusing time for many children, particularly for those who are gender-non-conforming, transgender or intersex.

Puberty is a normal part of growing up, so be sure to be supportive of each other when going through these changes and remember to avoid bullying such as teasing, shaming or stigmatising others based on the changes of puberty!

How does puberty start?

When you reach a certain age, the body releases different hormones to signal puberty. Hormones are chemicals in your body that controls various processes in your body.

During puberty, your brain releases a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which then signals the release of two other hormones in the pituitary gland, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In boys, these hormones travel through the bloodstream and to the testes where it’ll stimulate the production of testosterone. In girls, LH and FSH travel through the bloodstream into the ovaries which primarily stimulates the production of estrogen.

Depending on whether you are male or female, these hormones will have different pathways in your body and cause different puberty changes.


August, G. P., Grumbach, M. M., & Kaplan, S. L. (1972). Hormonal Changes in Puberty: III. Correlation of Plasma Testosterone, LH, FSH, Testicular Size, and Bone Age with Male Pubertal Development. The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 34(2), 319-26.

Grover, S. R., & Bajpai, A. (2008). Puberty. In International Encyclopedia of Public Health(pp. 402-407). Parkville, VIC, Australia: Academic Press.

Marshall, W. A., & Tanner, J. M. (1986). Puberty. Postnatal Growth Neurobiology, 171-209.

Rongol, A. D., Roemmich, J. N., & Clark, P. A. (2002). Growth at Puberty. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31(6), 192-200.