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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).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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Although puberty refers to the physical changes when the body becomes sexually mature and ready to reproduce (have babies), there are also a lot of emotional changes at this time.

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To determine if your testosterone levels are abnormal, which may help to explain difficulty getting an erection (erectile dysfunction), inability of your partner to get pregnant (infertility), or premature or delayed puberty if you are male, or masculine physical features if you are female

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