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You may have noticed things about yourself and your friends that are starting to change. Changing bodies, feelings, and relationships. Or you may have noticed nothing at all. This information may help you to understand why some of those changes are happening.

What is puberty?

A person’s body changes throughout their life but on this page we are going to talk about a particular change called puberty. Puberty is when your body changes from being a child to a young adult. It happens at different times for different young people but puberty usually begins at some point between age 8 and 14 years old.

The changes happen because the body produces chemicals called sex hormones. There are lots of hormonal changes that happen when puberty begins so don’t worry if you feel a little different, and remember everyone changes at their own rate. Sometimes it is hard not to compare yourself to other people but there’s no need, everybody gets there in the end. There are some common signs that may signal the start or continuation of puberty:

Girls

  • Breasts begin to develop
  • Leg and arm hair increases
  • Pubic hair grows
  • May notice an increase in spots
  • Growth spurt
  • Body shape change

Boys

  • Voice breaks (or deepens)
  • Underarm and/or facial hair grows
  • Pubic hair becomes thicker
  • Might notice an increase in spots
  • Testicles and penis grow to be bigger

Feelings

It is not just a young person’s body that changes during puberty, minds and feelings change too and this may include:

  • Emotional ups and downs
  • Sometimes you might feel angry
  • Feeling moody or fed up for no particular reason

It is important to remember that that it is all normal. If you do feel worried, you can speak to someone you trust or even your local school nurses.

Periods

For girls puberty is also a time when changes happen inside the body, to prepare it to have a baby one day. Each month a tiny egg is released from one of the ovaries and it moves down the fallopian tube. At the same time the lining of the uterus becomes thick and soft. When your body knows that no baby is growing the egg dies and is reabsorbed into your body. The lining passes out of as blood through your vagina, and this is known as having a period. It is thought that the average person will loses two or three tablespoons of blood and this will usually last for around four or five days.

Towels or tampons?

It is your own personal choice; each person has preferences. Sanitary towels stick into your pants whereas tampons fit inside the vagina. Sanitary towels and tampons need to be changed every few hours. Remember not to flush a towel or tampon down the toilet; wrap it up and put it in a bin. At school you may have noticed some special bins for this. It is more important to be prepared, so talk to a grown up you can trust, such as a parent, carer or school nurse about what is going to happen and what to do when it does.

Things to remember

  • Puberty often begins later in boys that girls
  • If you’re concerned about your periods speak to a professional
  • An increase in vaginal discharge is a normal part of puberty
  • Good hygiene is really important when girls start periods
  • You can get pregnant if you have sex during your period
  • If your genital area is itchy or sore this may mean you have an infection, visit your GP or sexual health clinic
  • If you’re concerned about puberty discuss this with a professional, such as your school nurse, GP or sexual health clinic

If you are a parent or carer requiring support around puberty or hygiene, school nurses are here to support you and your family as part of the 0-19 service. Please contact the School Nursing team on 0114 305 3284 or 0114 305 3586.

If you are a professional, you can complete an Early Help referral form on the Sheffield City Council website.

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
Sheffield Children's@SheffChildrens
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