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One day, you're perfectly fine, attending school, playing with your friends, and getting along with your family...and the next day, you're sprouting hair in places you never imagined, your voice is quickly changing, and you have feelings about a classmate that you still haven't developed the vocabulary for.

Every person goes through puberty during their pre-teen and teen years, when they experience physical and emotional changes that mark a transition into adulthood.

However, in many societies and families, puberty isn't well-explained, so it can be really confusing for young people.

When does puberty happen?

Flaticon Icon Puberty usually begins to the ages of 10-14 for girls and 12-16 for boys. While these ages are based on estimates, puberty can occur sooner or even later.

If it does happen early or late, there's often no reason to worry or panic. Every person experiences some common emotional, mental, and physical changes during puberty and some that are totally unique to themselves as people. For some, these changes happen slowly over time while for others, they can be quick and hard to adjust to.

Why does puberty happen in the first place?

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It's the natural way the human body matures from childhood to adulthood. It's triggered by gonadotropin a hormone your brain releases to help your body slowly prepare itself so that you have the option to be sexually active and/or have children.

How does puberty impact boys?

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Boys might experience some or all of these physical changes over time:

  • Facial and bodily hair growth, especially in pubic and underarm areas

  • Growth spurt

  • Acne or skin troubles

  • Jaw line and facial bone structure changes

  • Change in genitals, especially the size of testicles and penis

  • Muscle growth

  • Deeper voice

  • Broadening shoulders

  • Changes in body odour

They might also experience the following emotional changes:

  • Irritability, sadness, depression

  • Need for independence

  • More dependence on social circles and peers

  • Sudden need for more privacy and seclusion from others

  • Increased sexuality and desire (physically resulting in "wet dreams")

  • Fear and confusion

  • Random outbursts

  • Identity crises or increased introversion

  • Easily hurt or extremely sensitive

Quiz

12 year old Haseeb suddenly finds it uncomfortable to sleep in the same room as his younger brother. He gets irritable and spends most of his time talking on the phone. He has little interest in family activities. How should his parents respond?

How does puberty impact girls?

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Girls might experience some major physical changes over time:

  • Change in breast size

  • Vaginal fluids or discharge

  • Weight gain or weight loss

  • Change in body shape

  • Hair growth around the genitalia

  • Starting your period

  • Skin changes like acne

  • Sweating and changes in body scent

They might also experience several emotional changes that may include:

  • Irritability, sadness, and sudden mood changes

  • Peer pressure and a sense of competition with others

  • Uncertainty, confusion, and fear

  • Body consciousness

  • Interest and curiosity in the same or opposite gender

Who can and should play a role in normalizing puberty?

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By representing and showcasing authentic experiences online, talking openly in class or in our homes about this natural change, and including puberty as an important topic in academic curriculums, many different stakeholders can play a role in destigmatizing puberty.

  • Schools

  • Community centers and NGOs

  • Governments

  • Social media accounts

  • Corporations

  • Parents

  • Influencers and celebrities

  • Academic curriculum designers

  • Child psychologists

  • Doctors

  • Books and podcasts

  • Movies and TV shows

Take Action

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How do you support yourself or others going through puberty?

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This Byte has been authored by

SK

Saba Khalid

Founder & CEO at Aurat Raaj