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Stages of puberty: what happens to boys and girls


Puberty is when a child’s body begins to develop and change as they become an adult. Girls develop breasts and start their periods, and boys develop a deeper voice and start to look like men.

The average age for girls to begin puberty is 11, while for boys the average age is 12. But there’s no set timetable, so don’t worry if you reach puberty before or after your friends. It’s completely normal for puberty to begin at any point from the ages of 8 to 14. The process takes about four years overall.

Late or early puberty

Children who begin puberty either very early (before the age of 8) or very late (after 14) should see a doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition.

First signs of puberty in girls

Later signs of puberty in girls

After a year or so of puberty beginning, and for the next couple of years:

After about four years of puberty in girls

First signs of puberty in boys

Later signs of puberty in boys

After a year or so of puberty starting, and for the next couple of years:

After about four years of puberty in boys

Mood changes in puberty

Puberty can be a difficult time for young people. You’re coping with changes in the body, and possibly acne or body odour as well, at a time when you feel self-conscious.

Puberty can also be an exciting time, as you develop new emotions and feelings. But the "emotional rollercoaster" they’re on can have psychological and emotional effects, such as:

Puberty support

If you are worried or confused about any part of puberty, it may help to talk to a close friend or relative or speak to a teacher or the school nurse.

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