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Do you sometimes wonder if your body is acting up or growing up?  Do you have questions about what is happening to your body? This page provides info on some of the changes you may experience as you move through puberty.

What is puberty?

  • Puberty is the process you go through to grow from a child into a young adult.
  • During puberty, lots of physical and emotional changes happen.
  • Some puberty changes happen to people with penises/testicles*, others happen to people with vulvas/vaginas*, and still others happen to everyone.
  • Regardless of your body or how you identify, everyone goes through changes.  For more on these changes, see below and other pages of Puberty & The Body section [Link].

What causes puberty?

  • As your body develops, a time will come when your brain will send a message to your glands to start producing special hormones.
  • If you have ovaries, they will start producing estrogen. If you have testes (testicles), they will start producing testosterone.
  • All these hormones move around your body in your bloodstream and trigger the changes of puberty.

Some of my friends look like young kids and others look like adults. When does puberty start?

  • Most people start going through puberty when they are between 10 and 14 years old, but this isn’t the case for everyone. It’s perfectly normal to start puberty under 10 or over 14.
  • For more information on timing, check out The Puberty Timeline [Link].

What will happen to my body during puberty?

During puberty, there are changes that happen to everyone:

  • Body hair will start to grow on your pubic area and armpits. Some of the hair on your arms and legs may get thicker and darker.
  • Body odours are more noticeable, especially under your armpits.
  • Sexual and romantic thoughts become more common.
  • Your skin may get oilier, and you may get pimples
  • You may have a growth spurt where you grow quickly.

During puberty, there are changes that happen only to people with penises/testicles:

  • Voices start to crack and change, usually becoming deeper
  • Testosterone production begins
  • Testicles and penis become larger and longer and may change colour
  • Erections and ejaculation begin to occur
  • Facial hair may begin to grow
  • For more information see Puberty For Male Assigned People

During puberty, there are changes that happen only to people with vulvas/vaginas:

  • Breasts begin to develop
  • Menstruation begins to occur
  • Estrogen production begins
  • Hips, butts and thighs fill out to becoming curvy
  • For more information see Puberty For Female Assigned People

Why do people get pimples (acne) during puberty?  What can I do if this is a problem?

  • Your hormones may make your glands produce more oil than your skin can handle. This backlog sometimes causes pimples.
  • Washing every day with a gentle cleanser can help with oily skin.
  • If you are concerned about your acne, talk to your health care provider.

Why do people sweat and have more body odour during puberty?

  • Sweat glands may become more active during puberty, which can make your body smell more strongly than it used to.
  • Bathing, applying deodorant, and changing clothes can help if you think your odour is a problem.
  • If you are still concerned, your health care provider can also help.

Help!  I’m turning into a werewolf!  Why am I getting so hairy?

  • During puberty, hair begins to grow on many parts of the body such as in your pubic area, under your arms, on your arms and legs and elsewhere.
  • This is normal and can depend on your ethnicity.

What is happening inside my head during puberty?

  • As your body changes, so will your mind and emotions. Puberty has many ups and downs.
  • It is totally normal for your mood and feelings to change from day to day and even from minute to minute!
  • It will help if you can talk to someone you trust such as a friend, family member, teacher or a counsellor.
  • If you are concerned about your moods, talk to your health care provider.

Is it normal to think about sex all the time?  Should I feel guilty about that?

  • Your puberty hormones may make you think about, dream about and fantasize about sex.
  • There is no reason to feel guilty about your thoughts. Sexual fantasies are normal, healthy and can’t hurt other people because the things you imagine aren’t real.
  • This is also a time when you may begin to notice who and what attracts you to someone and begin to discover your sexuality.
  • For more on this see the section on Sexual and Gender Diversity [Link].

If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]

*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks), and support you using the language that feels best for you.

Last Edited: May 2020