Puberty: your pit-stop tour
Puberty – Am I normal?
First off, it’s all natural. It starts when changes in your brain trigger the release of hormones in your ovaries. Some say it's the transition from girlhood to womanhood, which is a nice way of saying your body is likely to change shape, your moods may ride a roller-coaster, and you’ll become more aware of who you are as a person.
Whether you end up becoming a mum one day or not, it’s your body’s way of making you able to have babies. As a result, you’ll probably experience more intense sexual feelings for others and you might start masturbating.
When does it start?
You might be going through puberty right now, or be expecting it to arrive soon. The truth is that the various stages – and exactly when they happen – are different for everyone. In girls puberty can start between the ages of 10 and 16, while boys typically start a couple of years later.
Yours might be done and dusted within 18 months, or be slow and steady for several years. There’s no right or wrong way for it to happen.
It’s completely normal to be either excited by puberty or dread it – you’ll probably feel a little bit of both. Because while growing up gives you the freedom to explore new things, the new responsibilities and changes in your body can feel overwhelming.
Why don’t my boobs look like hers?
The short answer here is: because they're your boobs, not hers. Ultimately, every one of us is unique before, during and after puberty.
There’s no real way to predict what your boobs will look like or how much they’ll grow. Just like we never entirely know how tall we’ll be or what shoe size we’ll end up with. But there are some indicators about what might happen for you (and when). We look more closely at the ways your body might change over here.
What do hands and feet have to do with it?
Well, their rapid growth might be the first sign that puberty is happening. So, that will explain why all your favourite rings no longer fit your fingers, or the shoes you love give you sore toes now.
And boobs and pubes?
Their arrival suggests puberty’s in full bloom. For 85% of girls, hardness under the nipples (AKA breast buds) are the first things to make an appearance. While this may feel scary, it’s Mother Nature’s way of helping you transition into the unique person you’ll become.
When do the major changes happen?
By the time you get your period, you’ll have had most of your major growth spurts. We say most because although it’s unlikely your height will increase much, your boobs could go on growing for a few more years.
If this does happen, try not to worry. Bigger boobs don’t mean frumpy undies – there are plenty of great bras for fuller busts, and supportive styles that will keep you comfortable whether you’re dancing or doing sport.
Body odour, vaginal discharge (sometimes called “the gunk in my knickers” that helps to keep your vagina moist and clean), plus acne and underarm hair are all signs of puberty. While there may be a ‘common’ order in which these things appear, there’s no ‘normal’ sequence. Typically, you’ll start your period about two years after your boobs start growing.
Remember, periods are also different for everyone. Some are light and last a day, while others might be heavy and last a week. Don’t worry if the blood changes colour. It will likely be a brighter red at the start when it flows out of the uterus quickly, and brown or clotted when it’s a bit older and has been hanging out in the uterus a while.
What about him?
His penis and balls will grow and he’ll start making testosterone, producing sperm and be able to ejaculate. He’ll get hard-ons (often without warning). His Adam’s apple (the noticeable lump in his neck) will get bigger and his voice will break, so his sentences might start as a squeak and end with a grunt.
Girls usually hit puberty before boys, so if you’ve found some of the changes hard, you can probably imagine what’s going on for the guys around you.
Moods like a yoyo?
While it might feel abnormal to cry one minute and crack-up with laughter the next, mood swings are totally normal. Your brain is creating new cells and working out new ways of thinking. Brain chemistry is shifting faster than you can send a Snapchat.
Your emotions may feel like you’re on a merry-go-round that you can’t get off. Make sure you talk to the people you’re comfortable confiding in, and remember your mum/sister/aunt went through it herself, so she’ll understand. For more info, take a look here. And if something really doesn't feel right, visit [LINK TO SELF-ESTEEM TEAM WEBSITE SUPPORT PAGE] to get more help, info and support.