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Planned Parenthood

Puberty

Puberty

Puberty at a glance:

  • You're not the only one who thinks puberty is weird. Your body is changing and becoming more adult-like.
  • Puberty can take several years, and usually happens between the ages of 9 and 17.
  • Girls often start puberty before guys do.

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What happens to a girl’s body during puberty?

During puberty, your body begins growing faster. Some girls have uncomfortable growing pains in their arms and legs. How long this "growth spurt" lasts and how tall you will be at the end of it depends on a lot of things — but mostly it has to do with how tall the other people in your family are.

During puberty, your breasts will change size and shape. Your hips will widen. You may not even notice this because it's a very subtle and slow change.

Your clitoris will grow a little, too. The inner lips of your vulva will become more prominent and may stick out from the outer lips. They also might change color. Vulvas are as different and diverse as faces, and that's normal. 

Hair grows in your armpits, around and above your vulva (it's called pubic hair), and the hair on your legs may get thicker and darker.

You'll probably begin to sweat more under your arms, and your sweat may smell different or stronger. You can shower or bathe more often and use deodorant if you don't like the way you smell.

It's common to develop pimples (acne) during puberty. If you have problems controlling your pimples, call your nurse or doctor for help.

During puberty, you'll also start getting your period. 

Puberty doesn't happen all at once — it happens in stages. For example, a girl's breasts may start to grow, but she may not get her period until years later. You may continue to go through puberty changes until you're 20 years old.

What happens to a guy’s body during puberty?

Just like girls, during puberty, your body begins to grow faster. Some guys have uncomfortable growing pains in their arms and legs. How long this "growth spurt" lasts and how tall you'll be at the end of it depends on a lot of things — but mostly it has to do with how tall the other people in your family are.

An early change is that your testicles get bigger. Sometime after that, your penis gets bigger, too, and pubic hair grows on your scrotum and above your penis.

At some point, your voice will get deeper. It may crack occasionally along the way, but that will pass.

Most guys grow some facial hair eventually. The hair on your body will probably get thicker, too.

You'll probably begin to sweat more under your arms, and your sweat may smell different or stronger. You can shower or bathe more often and use deodorant if you don't like the way you smell.

Some guys develop swelling underneath their nipples when they're going through puberty, which can look like the start of breasts, but it's probably temporary. It happens to two out of three guys, and it can last for a few years.

You might develop pimples (acne) during puberty. If you have problems controlling your pimples, call a nurse or doctor for help.

Puberty doesn't happen all at once — it happens in stages. Guys usually start puberty later than girls, when they're around 10 to 12 years old. Some start sooner and others later. You may continue to go through puberty changes until you're 20 years old. A guy may show some signs of puberty at an early age (like a voice that's starting to crack) but may not show other signs of puberty until years later (like growing facial hair).

How does puberty affect my emotions, moods, and thoughts?

During puberty, your emotions may become stronger and more intense. One minute you may feel on top of the world, and the next minute you may feel down in the dumps. Feeling really sad can be difficult. If that happens, talk with your parents or other adults you trust for support.

You may also have more sexual thoughts and urges. You'll probably start feeling sexually or romantically attracted to guys, girls, or both.

Some teens find that they're turned on (horny) a lot. As you get older, these feelings probably won't be as strong. Some teens choose to masturbate to release sexual feelings, and others just wait for the feelings to pass.

Puberty can be very confusing. Remember: although your feelings may seem out of control, your changing moods are a normal part of growing up. It's a good idea to share your feelings with someone you trust, especially if you feel very sad or frustrated. Everyone goes through puberty, so talk with an adult, like a parent, who can help you sort out your feelings. Believe it or not, your parents have been through it — they can let you know what to expect and help you deal with changes. Older siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents can be helpful, too.

Many teens find that sports, dancing, writing, music, art, or hanging out with friends are good ways to manage stress and help them feel more in control of their moods. Your changing hormones may leave you hyper and restless, and finding a physical or creative outlet can be a great way to release excess energy and feel good about yourself.

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Puberty