Puberty is when your brain begins to release hormones through your bloodstream, which give your body instructions to develop into adulthood. As well as physical changes, these hormones might also have an effect on your moods or your emotions. If things ever get out of hand, try talking to family or friends. Everyone goes through puberty, so someone should know what you’re going through.
Boys usually begin puberty between 10 and 15. During this time, boys’ voices will deepen as their Adams apple develops, they’ll become more muscular and eventually start growing facial hair. The reproductive organs will also begin to develop in size. The testicles will eventually start to produce sperm, ready for when you start having sex.
For girls, puberty can start anytime between the ages of 8 and 16. Once it begins, girls’ bodies gain slight weight around the hips and the breasts start to develop. Hormones also begin targeting your reproductive organs and soon after your periods start (otherwise known as your menstrual cycle).
There’s no right or wrong age for them to begin. Most start at 12 to 13 but lots start earlier or later. Some begin at eight, while others start at 16 or 17, so don’t worry if everyone’s had theirs before you.
During the menstrual cycle (which takes around 28 days) an egg is released from one of the female’s two ovaries and gradually makes it way down to the womb, via the fallopian tubes. To prepare for the egg’s arrival, the womb builds up a wall of extra tissue. If the egg is not fertilised the tissue then breaks down and leaves the body via the vagina, which is when you get your period. The menstrual cycle then begins again.
If the egg is fertilised by a male sperm cell after sex, the lining will instead stay in your womb, ready for the egg to settle. The egg will then start the process of growing into a baby. If you’re worried about getting your first period, try talking to someone you can trust, like friends or someone in your family. This could be your mum, or it could be a sister or cousin and they’ll know exactly what you’re going through.