Puberty Development in Boys and Girls


It’s time to take your daughter to a store to purchase her first bra, or maybe you noticed your son return home from school or sports practice smelling very potent. Welcome to puberty! Puberty is the time when your kids sprout up and fill out.

Typically, girls begin going through puberty after their 8th birthday. Boys typically begin puberty after their 9th or 10th birthday. Technically, however, puberty begins when an area of the brain called the hypothalamus starts to release puberty hormones. What happens next depends on the gender.

For girls, hormones go to the ovaries, which releases eggs and the production of the estrogen hormone that matures the female body and prepares her for pregnancy. For boys, hormones travel to the testicles and give the signal to begin production of sperm and the hormone testosterone.

Let’s dive deeper shall we? For girls, puberty generally starts a bit early than boys, between 8 and 13-years-old. For most girls, the first evidence of puberty is breast development but the growth of pubic hair can also signal the start of puberty. The first signs of puberty are followed one or two years later by a noticeable growth spurt. Her body will begin to build up fat, specifically in the breasts and around her hips and thighs. Finally, she’ll have her first period. Depending on the age at which they begin their pubertal development, girls may get their first period between the ages of 9 and 16-years-old.

For boys, the physical changes of puberty typically begin with the enlargement of the testicles and growth of pubic hair, followed by several growth spurts between 10 and 16-years-old. His body shape will begin to change as his shoulders broaden and he gains weight and muscle. Infamously, that first crack in his voice is a sign that it will become deeper. His penis and testicles will get larger and erections, which boys begin experiencing as infants, will become frequent. During and after puberty development, however, ejaculation will also occur.  

Start “the talk” early

Kids now are exposed to so much information about sex and relationships on their phones, TVs, and the internet. By the time they reach puberty they may be familiar with some of these more advanced ideas. Experts advice not to wait for your child to come to you with questions about their changing body, because that day may never arrive, especially if they don’t know it’s okay to talk to you about such a sensitive subject.

Often, youth entering puberty can feel insecure about their appearance, but it can help them to know that everyone goes through these changes, many of them awkward. They also should know that the timing of these changes can vary greatly. According to KidsHealth here are the facts kids should know about puberty development;

·         Girls become more rounded, especially in the hips and legs.

·         Girls' breasts begin to swell and then grow, sometimes one faster than the other

·         Girls and boys get pubic hair and underarm hair, and their leg hair becomes thicker and darker.

·         Both girls and boys often get acne and start to sweat more.

·         Both girls and boys have a growth spurt.

·         Boys' penises and testicles grow larger.

·         Boys' voices change and become deeper.

·         Boys grow facial hair and their muscles get bigger.

·         Boys sometimes have wet dreams, which means they ejaculate in their sleep.

·         When a girl begins menstruating, once a month, her uterine lining fills with blood in preparation for a fertilized egg. If the egg isn't fertilized, she will have a period. If it is fertilized, she will become pregnant.

·         A girl's period may last 3 days to a week, and she can use sanitary napkins (pads), tampons, menstrual cups or menstrual discs.    

Let your kids know you’re available to talk any time, but it’s important to initiate these conversations. It’s your responsibility as a parent to discuss puberty development and the feeling associated with those changes. If there are questions or concerns about puberty development that you just can’t answer, ask your kid’s doctor for some help!

Additional Resources: 

Puberty development in girls 

Puberty development in boys