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 happens between the ages of 8 and 16. The changes puberty brings don't come overnight and happen at different speeds in different people.
If you've not shown any signs of starting puberty by the age of 15, 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
- 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.
Many girls encounter:
- 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, you can call Childline free at any time and speak to an advisor about any issue on 0800 1111.
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.
All the growing and other changes going on in the body take up huge amounts of energy, so more rest is needed.
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.
For more information on how to look after yourself well, check out Getting the Basics Right.