What Happens During Puberty?

The Physical and Emotional Changes of Puberty

Photodisc / Getty Images

When you think about puberty what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Many of you would probably say having periods or the menstrual cycle. But even before you have your first menstrual period, other changes happen in your body.

You might notice small, tender, and sometimes painful lumps or buds; just below your nipples when your breasts begin developing. This can occur up to two years before you have your first period.

Puberty also starts the growth of adult body hair. You'll begin to notice soft hair growing thicker and longer under your arms, on your legs, and in your pubic area. You might decide to shave this new hair. Make sure to use a new and clean razor and fresh, clean water anytime you shave body hair to prevent infections. You should never share your razor, or use a razor that someone else has used; doing so could put you at risk for various infections, including HIV.

Body odor also begins to develop during puberty. You might decide that you want to use an antiperspirant or deodorant product to dispel any body odor that you experience.

Sometimes girls and boys develop acne during puberty. If you develop acne and it's bothers you, there are many products you can buy to help clear it up. If acne is severe, your doctor can prescribe medicine for your acne.

During puberty the size and shape of your body begins to change.

Your breasts continue growing. You may notice that your waist is getting smaller, while your hips grow wider. Extra fat accumulates on your stomach and bottom as your body starts to take the shape of an adult woman. Your arms, legs, hands, and feet also grow during puberty, making girls feel self-conscious.

Sometimes it might seem like your arms and legs are outgrowing your body, but don't worry it won't be long before the rest of your body catches up.

Emotional changes usually begin about the time menstruation begins. If you feel a little crazy just before your period, don't worry, you're not losing your mind. Many girls and women experience a variety of emotional and physical symptoms during their menstrual cycles. Scientists believe the constant fluctuations of hormone levels that occur during the menstrual cycle cause many of the physical and emotional symptoms that occur during the menstrual cycle.

Make a menstrual cycle calendar to note how you feel on different days during your menstrual cycle. If you consistently experience certain symptoms, you may have premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. Your doctor can use your menstrual cycle calendar to diagnosis PMS or other menstrual cycle disorders. Talk to your doctor if you are uncomfortable or unsure about any of the emotional or physical changes that happen to you during puberty and adolescence. Your doctor can prescribe medications and / or lifestyle changes such as diet or exercise to help reduce any symptoms that you might experience.


Puberty Information for Boys and Girls, American Academy of Pediatrics / AAP, accessed 07/27/07.

Continue Reading