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Puberty is a time when we all experience a lot of different things in our body. Finding support and information about how your body may change will help you understand what is natural and where you might need extra support.

What is puberty?

Puberty is a time when your body begins to develop as you move from childhood to adulthood. It can be a challenging time because there are lots of changes happening very quickly.

Some of these changes are very private, like breast growth in males or body hair growth in females. Because some puberty changes happen in areas that we see as private and intimate it can often be hard to talk about openly.

The changes that happen during puberty are completely normal. You don’t need to be embarrassed talking about these changes, you can speak to a health professional and youth support services who are knowledgable about puberty and talk about it all the time.

The physical changes of puberty can start anytime between 8 and 13 for females, and 9 and 14 for males. Everybody is different, some people start puberty a few years earlier than their friends, and others start later.

These changes usually take between 2 and 5 years to be fully complete. If you have noticed some different things happening in your body and you are worried or curious about them, talk to someone, because support is available.

If you don’t want to talk to your parents or guardians, then visiting a doctor is a good place to start. A doctor can tell you a lot of information about these changes and help you feel comfortable – because it’s all normal!

Why are these weird changes happening to me?

During puberty certain hormones, especially from the ovaries and testicles increase in amount. The hormones travel around the bloodstream and signal different body parts to develop in different ways.

Hormones are responsible for the different changes that happen throughout puberty. Body Talk has more information on puberty and hormones.

Some of the changes that happen during puberty might be:

  • Growing taller.
  • An increase in body odour.
  • Growing hair in different areas, like your armpits, pubic area, and face.
  • Noticing changes in your genitals.
  • Girls will notice changes in their breasts which may feel sore or itchy.
  • Boys may notice breast changes for a few months which can feel hard or sore and for most people goes away within a year.
  • Girls will start to have their period – these can sometimes be painful or irregular.
  • Developing acne.
  • Body shape changes. This can include the development of ‘secondary sexual characteristics’, like hips or shoulders getting wider. (Some people can struggle with body image as a result.)
  • Gaining weight or muscles.
  • Changes in your voice.

Why do I feel like eating more/less during puberty?

During puberty you might also notice that eating habits change, like eating more food than you used to. You might be feeling hungrier because of the changes happening in your body. It is important to eat enough healthy foods to help your body develop during this time.

Protein, vitamins and minerals are especially important nutrients for healthy muscle and bone development. You can find information on how to eat well for your body during puberty on the Nutrition Australia and the Dieticians Association of Australia websites.

You can also find out more by speaking to a doctor or youth health service. You can find your local youth health clinics on the Health Direct Service Finder by selecting ‘Youth Services’ (you’ll find it under ‘Other Services’).

Health Direct Service Finder can help you find youth friendly doctors near you by selecting ‘Youth Services’ (you’ll find it under ‘Other Services’).

Frequently asked questions

Got more questions? We’ve got you covered. Here are some commonly asked queries about this topic to help you understand it better. Remember, no question is too small or too big – we’re here to help!

What is puberty?
Puberty is when your body develops from a child into an adult, with many physical changes occurring quickly​.
Puberty typically starts between ages 8 and 13 for females, and 9 and 14 for males, lasting 2 to 5 years​.
Changes include growing taller, body odour, body hair, genital changes, breast changes, periods (for girls), acne, body shape changes, and voice changes​.
Your body needs more nutrients for growth, so you may feel hungrier and it’s important to eat healthy foods​.
Resources include Body Talk, Nurse Nettie, Reach Out, Play Safe, NSW Family Planning, Headspace, and Kids Helpline​.
Hormones signal different body parts to develop, leading to the physical changes experienced during puberty​.
Health professionals, youth support services, or trusted individuals in your life can provide information and support​.
Eat nutrient-rich foods, and consult resources like Nutrition Australia or Dieticians Association of Australia for guidance​.
Talk to health professionals or youth support services who are knowledgeable about puberty and can provide support​.
Use the Health Direct Service Finder, selecting ‘Youth Services’ to find youth-friendly doctors near you​.

Need emergency assistance?

As the peak body for young people and youth services in NSW, Youth Action does not provide direct referrals to support services. If you are in distress or require urgent assistance, the following support lines are available.

If there’s immediate risk of harm to yourself or other, please call:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 (Crisis & Suicide prevention support 24/7)

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (Mental health support 24/7) 

Link2Home: 1800 152 152 (For those experiencing homelessness 24/7)

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 (24/7)

ParentLine: 1300 1300 52 (9am to 9pm weekdays, 4pm to 9pm weekends)

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