Each phase of life has its distinct challenges and what seems to be the toughest is the transition period between phases. Puberty is the phase when children become sexually mature. During this period, several changes occur in the body and mind that are overwhelming. This is, however, a normal part of growing up and marks the transformation journey from being a child to an adult. This process generally begins between 10 and 14 years of age among girls and 12 to 16 years of age among boys. Puberty usually starts at an earlier age for girls and the first signs could appear as early as eight years of age.
Many changes occur in the shape and appearance of the body during puberty. The signs of puberty may differ between males and females. Some of the signs, however, occur in both genders and include
- The appearance of acne or pimples on the face and body.
- Hair growth in the armpits.
- The appearance of coarse pubic hair (hair growing around the genitals).
- Increased sweating along with the presence of body odor.
- Increased hair growth on the arms and legs. The hair may appear darker and thicker.
- There may be some pain felt in the arms and legs, called growing pains, because of the growth spurts.
- Increase in height, weight, coordination and strength. The adult height is generally attained by the end of puberty.
- Changes in mood and emotions.
- Skin becomes oilier.
Pubertal changes in girls
- The breast size increases (it is generally the first sign of puberty in girls).
- The areola (the darker circular area around the nipple) gets larger.
- The body shape begins to change. There is an increase in height and weight and the hips become wider and more prominent. There may be an increased fat deposition in the legs, abdomen and buttocks. These changes may make the curves more prominent as the waist appears narrower, while the buttocks look rounder.
- The feet, legs and arms grow at a faster rate than the rest of the body.
- The menstrual period may begin, generally within the first two years of the beginning of pubertal changes.
- There may be white mucus-like discharge from the vagina because of changing hormone levels.
Pubertal changes in boys
- Generally, the first sign of puberty in boys is the increase in the size of the testes. The scrotum appears thinner and darker.
- There is an increase in the size of the penis along with the growth of hair at its base.
- The voice deepens.
- Facial hair grows thicker, darker and longer.
- They may look more muscular in appearance with shoulders appearing broader.
- The breasts may appear swollen, but this generally goes away with time.
- There may be "wet dreams," which refers to involuntary ejaculations of semen during sleep.
- There may be penile erections because of the filling of the penis with blood, making it hard. Erections may happen when having thoughts about sexual things, or they may happen for no reason.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Stanford Children's Health: "Puberty: Teen Girl." https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=puberty-adolescent-female-90-P01635