Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


3-minute read

Puberty marks the start of the body’s development from childhood into adulthood. Girls start to turn into women, and boys start to turn into men.

Puberty for girls usually begins between 9 and 11 years old. Puberty for boys is usually around 12 or 13. But it can begin earlier or later for boys or girls – everyone is different.

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 have a baby later in life.

Puberty is a time of many changes. Your body changes and the way you look at the world often changes too. You might start thinking more about who you are. You might start thinking more about right and wrong. You might start feeling more emotional, and find you are up and down and down and up all in the same day.

You might feel more self-conscious. You might start thinking about love, or sex, or both. You might want to be more independent. You might want more support.

Sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, you might feel there is no one to talk to. If you can talk to your parents, give it a go. They went through puberty too, and might be more understanding than you think.

If you don’t want to talk to your parents, try talking to a trusted relative or a friend. Or to your doctor. Or to Kids Helpline 1800 551800. Saying things out loud can be a good way of getting things clear in your mind.

Experiment carefully

Many teenagers begin to experiment with new ideas, new ways of thinking about themselves, their families and friends, and may even consider trying risky things. Smoking, alcohol, and sexual exploration are common during the teens, but it is very important to remember that laws exist which make smoking and drinking alcohol illegal under 18 years of age. The laws around sexual contact are even more complicated - but they aim to reduce the risk of harm that can come from sexual experiences and other risky behaviours at too early a stage in life. It takes real maturity to understand the consequences of actions, and being a teenager is challenging enough without these added uncertainties.

Remember that the laws surrounding these things are there to protect you.

These laws can differ from state to state and you can learn more about them on the Lawstuff website.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your puberty, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).


NHS Choices (UK) (Stages of puberty: what happens to boys and girls), WA Health (Teenage health - Boys and puberty booklet), WA Health (Teenage health - Girls and puberty booklet)

Last reviewed: October 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Stages of puberty in girls (female puberty) information | myVMC

Puberty refers to maturation of the reproductive organs. In girls it causes puberty symptoms like breast, pubic and underarm hair growth, and menstruation.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Stages of puberty in boys (male puberty) information | myVMC

In boys, maturation of the reproductive organs causes puberty symptoms like increased penis size, sperm production, deepening voice and chest hair growth.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Puberty - Autism Awareness Australia

Children on the autism spectrum often need more time than their peers to deal with major changes, including the changes that will come during puberty.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Puberty | Family Planning NSW

Visit our BodyTalk website specifically designed for under 25's with information about puberty, th

Read more on Family Planning NSW website

Physical changes in puberty: girls & boys | Raising Children Network

In puberty big changes happen inside and outside your childs body. Heres what to expect and when physical changes in puberty happen for girls and boys.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Children with autism preparing for puberty | Raising Children Network

Children and teens with autism spectrum disorder need longer to prepare for physical changes in puberty. Our guide has ideas and Social Stories to help.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Young Adult Health - Health Topics - Puberty

Puberty is the time in our lives when our sexual reproductive organs mature. This means our bodies become capable of having babies.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Puberty

Puberty starts when hormones from part of the brain (pituitary gland) act on the ovaries or testes to begin sexual changes in both boys and girls.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Kids' Health - Topics - What is puberty?

Apart from the first year of your lives the most growing that you do happens during puberty. All of a sudden, most of you seem to be growing out of clothes and shoes at an alarming rate as you go into a full-on growth spurt.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

How to deal with early puberty | All About Acne

Dealing with early puberty and acne | Independent, evidence-based information about acne causes, skin care and treatments

Read more on All About Acne website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo