You’ve heard the word puberty, and maybe in school you have had a class about it. Puberty is the weird word that is used to describe the process of growing up, and this can happen anywhere around ages 8-14. (Don’t worry; not every single person fits into that timeline). This is the time when your body and mind is making its way from a child to a young man or young woman. Lots of people have mixed feelings about puberty; it can be exciting knowing that you are developing as a young adult, but the changes that your body makes can be kinda scary too. Everyone always wonders if the stuff they are going through is normal for puberty, so don’t feel you are alone.

The biggest change inside your body is the creation of new hormones. Ever heard the expression, “don’t get all hormonal on me”? Hormones are like chemical message carriers; they carry instructions for your body to do stuff. Girls have ovaries, and they will start producing the hormone estrogen. For a review of the female reproductive system, click here. Guys have testes, and they will start producing the hormone testosterone. For a review of the male reproductive system, click here.

The stuff you are going to see during puberty is hair growth (under arms, legs, genitals), your body odor may be a lot more noticeable (your under arms and body sweats), you may start having more thoughts about romantic or sex stuff, your skin may get oily, and your body may grow super fast in a short period of time (called a growth spurt). There is also stuff that happens just to guys, and stuff that happens just to girls.

This one’s for the gals

This one’s for the gals:

You are going to notice your breasts developing. Everyone’s boobs are different, and everyone worries that their boobs don’t look perfect (that’s normal). They might even keep developing right into your 20’s.

Your period will start. This is called menstruating, or your menstrual cycle. This can happen around age 12-13, but some girls start earlier or later. This can be really embarrassing when it first happens, but it’s really okay. Maybe you can plan in advance, and talk to your Mom, Auntie, or Kookum about it before it starts. This link is a really good explanation of what happens during your period. The quick version? Every 21-35 days, your uterus will “shed” its lining if you are not pregnant. (If you are not pregnant, the uterus doesn’t need to keep that lining). This lining comes out of your vagina, and looks like blood. It can be red, pink, or a brownish color. You may bleed for 3-7 days. At first, your period may be irregular (meaning it doesn’t happen at the same time each month, or last the same amount of time). Over time, periods usually get a bit better and more regular. (If not, some girls go on “the pill” to make their periods regular). During your period, you need to collect the blood with a pad or tampon. These can be purchased at a drug store, the Northern Store, other grocery stores, and department stores like Wal Mart. You have to change the pad or tampon every couple of hours, and put the used one in the garbage. When you have your period, you may have some cramping in your lower belly or an ache in your back. It sounds awful, but there is stuff you can do to make yourself feel better, and you get used to it over time.

When puberty starts, girls can also notice some sticky stuff in their underwear that looks like a clear gel. This is called “discharge”, and this is the way the vagina cleans itself. If the discharge has a bad smell, if there is lots of it, or it makes you itchy, tell a nurse or doctor.

Girls may also feel a bit more emotional, or have mood swings. Your body may get curvier, around the hips and butt.

Check out these links for more info on female puberty:

This one’s for the guys

This one’s for the guys:

During puberty, your voice usually becomes deeper. It may be a bit embarrassing, but sometimes your voice will “crack” in the middle of talking or singing. You may also notice hair growing on your face, although it will usually take some time to be able to grow a mustache or goatee.

Over time, the penis and testicles become larger, usually longer, and they can even change color a bit.  This is totally normal, and not something to worry about. This is the time when erections start happening too. You may have heard it called getting a hard on, a stiff one, or a boner, but they all mean the same thing – an erection. When the penis is stimulated, ejaculation happens. This is a release of sticky fluid from the penis that is white, which is called semen. Semen contains sperm (the stuff that helps with pregnancy) but it’s sometimes called cum or jizz.

Sometimes erections happen even when the person is not turned on. This could happen at school, church, anywhere. This can be embarrassing, but it is normal. If you are out, cover your genital area with a book, binder, sweater, jacket, or anything you can think of.

Another thing that can happen is called “wet dreams”. This is when a guy ejaculates when sleeping. As you get older, this doesn’t happen as much. This happens to all guys, and is very normal.

Lots of guys worry about their penis, and wonder when all this stuff will start happening. No one can say for sure exactly when puberty and all the stuff that goes with it will actually start. Maybe you can talk to your Dad, Uncle, or another trusted guy with any questions you have.

Check out these links for more info on male puberty: