Healthy living

Puberty

So you know all about the lifecycle of a butterfly? And you know why it’s important to look after your body? Most of this puberty stuff you have probably already picked up from somewhere – books, movies, the school nurse, the net, your mates, but do you know the whole story? Are there things you have ever wondered about... but haven’t dared to ask?

Puberty is a time of many changes, both physical and emotional. Some of these changes are exciting, others are daunting. Don’t forget that there are adults around you who can help you through the tricky times. When you emerge at the other end, you will be well on the way to becoming an adult.

Butterfly cartoonWe’ve got together a heap of information so that you can be informed about the important stuff. And that will help keep you safe and happy and well.

(And if you want some useful information and advice about sex, love and relationships, read ‘Relationships, sex and other stuff’!)

Do butterflies get homework too?

Human beings are complex things. When you’re at school, you’re expected to get your homework handed in on time and go through puberty too. Compared to us, caterpillars have it easy. They spin a cocoon around themselves and then, bingo! A few weeks later, they emerge as butterflies. Or maybe a moth. Whereas kids have to go from being kids to adults and learn about the mysterious ‘facts of life’ on that journey. Your body changes, but you don’t get to stay in a cocoon while it’s happening.

Is it just me, or have I arrived on a new planet?

Cocoon cartoonWhen you hit puberty, things change. Girls start to turn into young women, and boys start to turn into young men. The body changes and the way you look at the world often changes too.

Puberty is a gradual thing and everyone goes through it. Puberty happens to you even while you are getting your homework done, swimming at the beach, or going to the movies. It is the body’s way of making it possible for you to be able to make a baby, later in life.

Whether you are a girl or a boy, you will experience the physical and emotional changes of adolescence. For girls, puberty can begin between 9 and 11. For boys, it begins at around 12 or 13. But it can begin earlier or later – everyone is different.

Boys may find one friend develops a deeper voice, another might have hair on his chest or under his arms. Everyone develops at different rates. But by the time everyone grows up, there will hardly be any differences between you.

Puberty is a time of many changes. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, you might feel there is no one to talk to. Want to know something scary? Parents often understand more than you would think! Don’t forget, they went through puberty too. If you don’t want to talk to your parents, you could try talking to a trusted relative or friend. Saying things out loud can be a good way of getting things clear in your mind. 

Where to get help

  • If you have any sort of problem you want to talk about confidentially with a trained counsellor, call Kids Help Line (24 hours) on 1800 551 800 (free from a land line only)
  • Visit The Hormone Factory (external site), a great site with lots of answers for 10 to 12 year olds, especially about puberty
  • Other good sites for teenagers include Get the facts (external site) and I stay safe (external site)
  • For general health information call healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • For information about general sexual health and contraception:
  • For help with sexual abuse or assault, phone the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (24 hour emergency line) on 9340 1828 or 1800 199 888 for country callers (free from land line only)

Acknowledgements
Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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