What is Puberty?

Puberty is the time of life when the reproductive organs become functional and secondary sexual characteristics develop. It’s caused by hormonal changes and marks the beginning of adolescence, a psychosocial stage between childhood and adulthood. Puberty usually occurs between 8 and 14 years old.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Puberty?

The signs and symptoms of puberty vary considerably in intensity and range among individuals. Some of the common signs and symptoms of puberty in girls include:

  • Development of breasts
  • Growth of pubic and underarm hair
  • Increase in body fat distribution around the hips and thighs
  • Growth spurts
  • Appearance of acne
  • Increasing body odor
  • Thinning and reddening of the skin

In boys, some of the common signs and symptoms of puberty include:

  • Deepening of the voice
  • Growth of facial, pubic, and underarm hair
  • Appearance of acne
  • Larger feet and hands
  • Increasing body odor
  • Growth of the penis and testicles
  • Enlargement of the Adam’s apple
  • Growth spurts

Complications of Puberty

Most commonly during puberty, some young people, especially girls, experience premature ovulation, which is when a woman begins to ovulate before age 12. In some cases, premature ovulation can lead to pregnancy.

In boys, puberty is generally considered to be completed at the age of 16. However, in some cases, it can take up to 18 to 20 years for the physical changes of puberty (such as an increase in muscle mass and beard growth) to be completed.

When to see a Doctor

It is important to talk to a doctor if you are concerned about any of the signs and symptoms of puberty. It is also important to see a doctor if you think your child may be experiencing premature puberty.