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What is puberty?
Puberty is the period in children's lives
when they experience physical changes
by which their bodies eventually become
adult bodies that are capable of
What is the difference between male and
Girls start puberty about one to two years earlier than boys.
Girls generally complete puberty in a shorter time than boys.
Girls reach adult height and reproductive maturity approximately 4 years
after the physical changes of puberty appear.
Boys continue to grow for about 6 years after the first visible changes of
A girl's puberty general spans from the ages of 9 to 14.
A boy's puberty generally spans from the ages of 10 to 17. Experts say this
longer span is probably why adult males are generally taller than adult
What happens during a girl's
Sexual organs - the girl's clitoris (a small and sensitive part of the female
genitals which is part of the vulva) and the uterus (womb) will grow.
Menstruation begins - one of the first things that happens during a girl's
puberty is the start of her monthly menstrual cycle. When periods start it
means that the girl is becoming a woman and she can become pregnant.
Breast changes - the girl's breast will start to grow. A small and sometimes
painful lump may be felt just below the nipple when her breasts start to
develop - this is normal.
Vaginal discharge - vaginal discharge may start or change
Body hair - hair will begin to grow in her pubic area - firstly along the labia
(the lips that are part of the external female sexual organs, known as the
vulva), and then under her arms and on her legs.
What happens during a boy's puberty?
Scrotum, testicles and penis - the boy's scrotum will begin to thin and redden and his
testicles will grow. Later, usually around the age of 13 (this can vary) his penis will grow
and lengthen while the testicles will continue to grow.
Voice change - as the voice box (larynx) gets bigger and the muscles or vocal cords
grow, the boy's voice will "break" or "crack". This is normal. Eventually the boy's voice will
Wet dreams - boys may ejaculate during their sleep and wake up in the morning with
damp sheets and pajamas. This does not mean the boy was having a sexual dream. It is
important that his loved ones explain to him that they understand that he cannot
prevent them from happening. Wet dreams are just part of growing up.
Involuntary erections - during puberty boys will have spontaneous erections. These will
occur without the penis being touched and without sexual thoughts triggering them.
These may be embarrassing if they happen in public. This is a natural part of growing up.
What causes puberty?
Genes - experts say that puberty starts with a single gene called KiSS1. This gene
is present in our bodies at birth and produces another gene called GPR54. GPR54
lies dormant in the body for many years until kisspeptin - chemicals produced by the
KiSS1 gene - activate it. Activated GPR54 stimulates the brain to produce GnRH
(gonadotropin-releasing hormone) - a powerful hormone. GnRH causes other glands
in the body, such as the testes in boys and ovaries in girls to release other hormones.
Hormones - the testes produce testosterone which encourages the development of
the testicles and penis, muscle growth, hair growth, and the deepening of the male
voice. The female ovaries also produce testosterone, in much smaller amounts - and
it is used to help maintain muscle mass and bone strength. The ovaries produce
estradiol which stimulates breast growth, the female reproductive system, as well as
regulating the monthly menstrual cycle.
The endocrine reproductive system consists of the
hypothalamus, the pituitary, the gonads, and the adrenal
glands, with input and regulation from many other body
systems. True puberty is often termed "central puberty"
because it begins as a process of the central nervous
system. A simple description of hormonal puberty is as
The brain's hypothalamus begins to release pulses of
Cells in the anterior pituitary respond by secreting LH and
FSH into the circulation.
The ovaries or testes respond to the rising amounts of LH
and FSH by growing and beginning to produce estradiol
Adolescents during puberty may
want to start taking a daily shower
or bath if they don`t already. This
can keep the body clean and
reduce the smell from the sweat.
Deodorant and antiperspirants
The change with hormones will cause
adolescents to sweat more and for sweat
to have a stroger odor. Daily baths and
showers help with the smell as well as
deodorants and antiperspirants.
Your hair may be more oily than it
used to. Washing it more often can
help mantain less oily.
With the increase of oil on the skin it is
important to wash your face twice a day
with a facial soap can help keep things
Brush and floss twice a day to
mantain good health.