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Puberty in to ask the Experts

Puberty: What is it and when will it happen to me?!

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Right, so what exactly is female puberty?

Good question. Puberty is when your body begins to biologically mature. It happens so that your body is physically able to have a baby. The main change is the development of sexual characteristics, like boobs and pubic hair. 

Physical and emotional changes

These changes don't always happen together. So it’s possible you could feel older, but still look like a child or you could look older, but still feel like a child. Make sense? Adolescence can be a bit confusing because you're not a child anymore, but you're not an adult yet either. The more aware you are of what's happening, the easier it’ll be.

The science bit: Hormones, hormones, hormones

Interested in the scientific explanation of what happens during female puberty? Read on. 

Basically puberty is all about hormones...

• Hormones are chemicals that have different jobs throughout the body. 

• As you get older, your brain starts making special hormones that are necessary for your ability to bear children. 

• As you approach puberty, both the brain and something called the pituitary gland begin releasing hormones. These hormones are sent to your ovaries, and stimulate the ovaries to produce oestrogen.

Hormones cause many of the physical and emotional changes that happen during puberty. Growth hormone is also produced in the pituitary gland, and is responsible for the growth spurt, including:

• the lengthening of long bones (legs and arms), and

• the overall increase in size of the body and internal organs (such as the heart, lungs, and uterus).

When does it happen?

Female puberty can start when you're 7 or not until you're 13, but it usually starts when you're 10. The process can take anywhere between 1 ½ to 4 years. Generally, girls can expect their first period about 2–3 years after the first signs of getting boobs.

A few clues

Wondering when puberty is going to start for you? Here are some clues that’ll help determine when you’ll get your period and start puberty:

• Heredity: ask your mum or another female relative how old she was when she had her first period. You'll probably get yours at the same age (note: Doctors have found that the age of puberty is about a year younger now than it was for your mum’s age group).

• Weight: very thin girls begin to menstruate a bit later. Heavier girls may get their period early.

Girls who develop earlier than most of their friends often feel ‘weird’ or self-conscious. That's normal. But girls who develop later than most feel strange too…a bit left out of the club. Remember, eventually all girls get to be young women in their own time so try not to worry too much about it.

For more details on what happens to your body, have a look at this article: Puberty: What’s happening to my body?!



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