What is Puberty?

As children grow towards their teenage years, the body starts to change, to prepare for adulthood. This change—puberty—happens over a few years.

Puberty can be stressful and confusing, but it is part of growing up. Everyone goes through it—male and female. Some changes are similar in boys and girls, and some are very different. It is important to eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep during this time, as with every stage of life.

Most boys go through puberty sometime between nine and 15 years of age. The male sex hormone testosterone is responsible for lots of changes in the male body. Testicles produce the testosterone.

Puberty happens at different times for different people. Each boy has his own changes and rate of change. Everyone is different.

Hair and body odour
  • Hair grows in different parts of the body: chest, face, back, legs, armpits, and around the genitals.
  • Sweat more and have a different smell.
Height and weight
  • Grow taller.
  • Gain muscle.
Voice
  • Grow muscles in the throat; voice gets lower. Some boys develop an “Adam’s apple”, a lump that sticks out of the neck area of the throat.
Skin
  • Produces oils that can cause acne—pimples—on his back, face, and neck. Some things make acne worse.
    • Squeezing or popping zits—can also cause scars
    • Oily skin products
    • Extreme sunlight
    • Stress
  • Some things make acne better
    • Clean your face morning and night with a face soap
    • Manage your stress (get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise)
    • Talk to a health care worker (there are many treatment creams and medications that can help)
Genitals
  • The penis and testicles increase in size
Thoughts and feelings
  • Experience mood changes often; emotions feel more extreme
  • Have sexual thoughts and feelings
  • Changing feelings are normal, but may feel strange or difficult to manage. As his body changes and he gets used to the changes, a male learns to manage his feelings better.
Erections
  • A penis is usually soft. A male has an erection because lots of blood rushes into the penis and it swells and gets hard.
  • It is natural for an erection to happen at any time, for any reason. Many erections last only a couple of minutes.
  • During puberty, male hormones help make semen (sperm + fluids). An ejaculation is when the penis releases semen.
Masturbating
  • During puberty, many boys and girls start to masturbate—touch their own genitals. This is natural and healthy, and feels good.

Most girls go through puberty sometime between seven and 13 years of age. The female sex hormone estrogen is responsible for lots of change in the female body. Ovaries produce estrogen.

Puberty happens at different times for different people. Each girl has her own changes and rate of change. Everyone is different.

Breasts

Breasts start to grow, maybe with some swelling and soreness. The nipple area gets darker. It is normal for one breast to be a bit bigger than the other one. Some girls choose to wear a bra and others choose not to.

Hair and body odour

  • Hair grows in her armpits and around her genitals
  • Sweat more and smell different
Height and weight
  • Start to get taller; hips wider
  • May get more curves around her hips, butt, and thighs.
  • Some girls feel pressure to lose weight, but curves are a normal part of her body changing into an adult.
Voice

Her voice gets a little deeper.

Skin
  • Produce oils that can cause acne—pimples—on her back, face, and neck. Some things make acne worse.
    • Squeezing or popping zits—can also cause scars
    • Oily skin products
    • Extreme sunlight
    • Stress
  • Some things make acne better
    • Clean your face morning and night with face soap
    • Manage your stress (get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise)
    • Talk to a health care worker (there are many treatment creams and medications that can help)
Thoughts and feelings
  • Experience fast mood changes; emotions feel more extreme.
  • Have sexual thoughts and feelings.
  • Changing feelings are normal, but may feel strange or difficult to manage. As her body gets used to the changes, a female learns to manage her feelings better.
Masturbating

During puberty, many boys and girls start to masturbate—touch their own genitals. This is natural and healthy, and feels good.

One clear sign of puberty in girls is she starts to menstruate or have her period.

What is it?

Ovaries make hormones and store eggs. Hormones help the eggs grow and mature. About once a month, the ovaries release an egg into the fallopian tubes. Hormones also help build a thick lining of blood vessels inside the uterus. It is called the endometrium. When a woman gets pregnant, this is where a baby grows.

When a woman does not get pregnant, her body sheds the endometrium and the egg. This is menstruating.

How long?

The menstrual cycle is from the first day of a woman’s period to the last day before her next period—usually about 25 to 35 days.

Every girl is different, but a period usually lasts from three to seven days. On average, a girl loses about two tablespoons (30 mL) of blood.

When do girls start to menstruate?

Menstruation starts during puberty. No one can tell exactly when—every girl is different. Many girls get some white or yellow fluid on their underwear, which shows her period may start soon.

Pain

The blood loss during menstruation does not hurt. Some girls get cramps or stomach pain before and during her period. If this happens, she may:

  • Try medication such as Advil
  • Put a heat pack on her abdomen
  • Get regular exercise
  • Relax or meditate

Managing her period

To manage her period, each girl needs to choose the option that is right for her. If she has questions, she can talk to a nurse or trusted female adult.

Tampon

Tampon

A small cotton-like plug that fits inside the vagina to absorb the blood.

  • Stays in the vagina for 4-6 hours, depending on how much blood.
  • Come in many different sizes and shapes, to suit how much blood.
  • Always follow instructions to use them.
  • Buy them at the local grocery or convenience stores or pharmacies.

Pads

A disposable pad to absorb blood, with a strip on the bottom that sticks to underwear.

  • Come in many different sizes and shapes
  • Buy them at the local grocery or convenience stores or pharmacies.

Re-usable pads

Re-usable pads

A cloth pad to absorb blood; wings wrap around underwear and snap in place.

  • Come in many different sizes and shapes.
  • Wash and re-use many times; save money.
  • Buy them online or make them. Tutorial

Menstrual cup

Menstrual cup

 

A small cup fits inside the vagina to catch the blood and hold it.

  • Can stay in the vagina for up to 12 hours.
  • Wash and re-use.
  • Come in different sizes for different sized girls/women.
  • Buy online: Diva cup, Lunette cup, Eva cup.