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HealthInfo Canterbury


Puberty affects both boys and girls. It's the time when your body starts to change from being a child into being a young adult, as you become sexually mature. Puberty can take up to four years. It can happen at any time but is most common between the ages of 8 and 14.

There is a wide range of "normal". It's really important to understand that everyone is different, and everyone will go through puberty at different times. You might start early and finish before your friends, or they might start and finish before you.

Physical changes

Puberty happens when your body produces hormones that cause physical changes in your body. These changes include hair growing in your pubic area and armpits. You'll notice other physical changes like growing breasts and starting your period if you're a girl, or your penis and testicles getting bigger if you're a boy. Boys may also get a deeper voice and start to grow facial hair. You may get acne.

Emotional changes

The physical changes of puberty often come with behavioural and emotional changes, too. Some of these emotions are exciting, but you may notice a new range of emotions and your mood may change a lot. You may feel self-conscious about the changes in your body, including increased body odour. At times these changing emotions can feel like being on a rollercoaster.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure can also be a big issue to deal with. It's great to get positive encouragement from your friends, but not so great if they're encouraging you to do something that could be harmful.

As a teenager you are developing your sense of identity and independence, and learning how to look after yourself and stay safe. If you feel like your friends might be going a bit too far, it will help if you've already figured out your own personal values (what's important to you) and your boundaries (things you won't do). It's OK to say "No", and you don't have to explain why.

You'll find a lot of helpful advice and tips for managing peer pressure on Youthline and


If you have any questions, or are worried about puberty or are finding the changes you are experiencing hard to cope with it's important to talk to someone you trust. This may be someone from your family or whānau or your GP or nurse.There are some websites below that provide information about puberty that you may find helpful.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2021.


See also:



Overview of the female reproductive system

Penis & testicles


Personal hygiene

Vulval & vaginal care

Page reference: 53211

Review key: HIPUY-53211