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Puberty And Your Child

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I received an email via our iPhone App from Hayden who asked when “he” would see his body changing.  That is a question from a lot of “tweens” as they are often concerned if they are “normal” as there really is a wide variation in pubertal development. Puberty is defined as the time that physical and sexual maturation occurs and it is based upon hormonal changes in both boys and girls. The interesting thing about puberty is that there is a WIDE variation of normal as to when pubertal changes begin.

Most girls will start to see some changes in their body anywhere between 8 – 14 years of age.  The first change is the beginning of breast development which is called breast budding.  Further changes take place over the next 18 – 36 months,  which ultimately leads to a girl’s first menstrual period which is called menarche.

Boys will enter puberty anywhere between 9 – 15  years of age, and this too is a gradual process that typically begins when a boy notices that his penis and testicles begin to enlarge.  There will be other changes too as a boy grows facial hair and their voices begin to change.  Later in puberty a young man will notice more muscle development.

The pubertal process is pre-programmed genetically, and most adolescents will begin puberty at “about” the same time that their parents did.  In other words, if your parents developed pubertal changes at a younger age then you typically will do the same. If your parents were older when they went through puberty then you may do the same thing, and this is called constitutional delay of puberty.

Going through puberty after all of your friends often worries adolescents and if you are concerned speak with your doctor. If necessary there are several easy tests that me performed to assure you that your body is “normal”, and it may help to predict when your body changes may occur.

Thanks for writing Hayden. I bet a lot of your fellow classmates have the same questions.

That’s your daily dose.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

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