Puberty FAQs: Girls

Puberty is the series of changes our bodies and brains go through as we grow to become sexually mature adults.

So what's going on inside us? Why does puberty make us feel the way it does? When should it start and how quick will it happen?

When does puberty happen?

In girls, puberty starts between the ages of 8 and 13. The changes puberty brings don't come overnight and happen at different speeds in different people. These changes can also happen to people of all gender identities, including some young trans men and young non-binary people too. 

If you've not shown any signs of starting puberty by the age of 14, speak to your doctor. 

What causes puberty to happen?

When we hit puberty, glands inside us start pumping out chemicals called hormones.

These special chemicals make different parts of our bodies change in different ways. They also affect our feelings and emotions.

What are the main changes in puberty?

Apart from general growth spurts, major things we can see from the outside include:

  • Growing breasts
  • Growing armpit and pubic hair
  • Hips getting broader

Unfortunately, we also get:

  • Greasier skin
  • Spots
  • More sweat and body odour

On the inside, our sexual organs develop and start working so that we start to have periods.

From this point onwards (until around the age of 50), we can now get pregnant.

How does puberty affect my mind and feelings?

Hormones also affect the way we feel.

You might experience:

  • Mood swings
  • Low moods
  • Problems with self-confidence
  • Strong crushes on people

All of these things are normal, but shouldn't make your life a misery.

If the way you feel means you're missing out on things you used to enjoy or are taking risks you know you shouldn't, it's worth speaking to someone about what's happening.

If you can't speak to a trusted friend or adult, visit our #AyeFeel page to find people you can talk to over email, text, phone or online chat. 

Will puberty affect my sexuality?

Puberty is about becoming sexually mature, so it's natural to think about sex a bit - or a lot!

This can include wondering about our sexuality and many people will have feelings about members of the same sex.

It doesn't always mean you're gay or bisexual, but there's no reason to feel bad about who you are or who you're attracted to.

I can hardly stay awake - why?

Teenagers are often accused of being lazy because of the amount of time they spend in bed.

Not fair!

All the growing and other changes going on in the body take up huge amounts of energy, so more rest is needed.

Visit our page all about sleep to find out more about a good sleep routine.

I'm eating loads - why?

Your body is making new and bigger bits of itself all over so it's little wonder we need more food.

It can't make itself into a healthy adult out of junk either, so do the best you can to make sure you eat well.

I want to be alone more - why?

Every teen needs time and space to figure out how they feel about themselves and the changes they're going through. Some folks need more than others.

How to get the space you need is another matter and can be tricky.

Who experiences these signs of puberty? 

It’s not just girls and young women who experience these signs of puberty – it can also be a reality for people of all gender identities, including some young trans men and young non-binary people. Everyone's experience is unique and there is no 'right' way to feel. LGBT Youth Scotland, LGBT Health and Wellbeing and Mermaids UK have lots of information, community meetups and people you can chat to about your experiences.  

For more information on how to look after yourself well, check out Getting the Basics Right.