Puberty Stages and Concerns

Teen girls

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Teenage puberty is a necessary stage in a teen's development. This is the time that your teen's body gets ready for reproduction. But it can be confusing and even frustrating. So many things are changing for your teen right now. So how do you know what is okay and what isn't?

Everyone goes through some of the physical changes of puberty. These changes usually occur in predictable stages.

Stages of Puberty in Girls

People with a vulva and ovaries go through five stages of breast development, usually from ages 8 to 15. Pubic hair development is another sign of puberty, emerging from age 9, with five different stages.

General signs include hips getting fuller and waist getting thinner. Along with pubic hair, tweens and teens will also develop underarm hair and leg hair, along with the need for deodorant.

Stages of Puberty in Boys

For those with a penis and testicles, puberty usually starts around age 13 and progresses through five stages of sexual maturity. Testicles and penis enlarge, and pubic hair develops. Underarm hair and body hair will grow, and facial hair is another big change for boys.

As puberty hormones kick in, they will grow in height, shoulders will broaden, and they'll have more muscle. Their voice will also begin to deepen, often with cracking at first. They'll be perspiring more and need deodorant or antiperspirant. Sexual feelings and wet dreams will become more common.

Onset of Menstruation

Sometimes knowing the general stages isn't enough. What is normal for one teen isn't normal for another. Teens with ovaries also have one more issue in puberty: menstruation.

Getting their first period can fill tweens with questions and even fear. While the average age of the first period is 12, parents need to be ready for it to happen as soon as age 8. Prepare by knowing what is normal, understanding what is happening during the menstrual cycle, and what to discuss with your doctor.

Penis Changes

For some teens, concerns about puberty deal with how the penis changes. Although they are sometimes embarrassed to ask their questions, many teens have concerns about whether they are normal or not.

While you may keep repeating that penis size doesn't matter, your child is probably still wondering what's typical. And with puberty, there may be some conditions of the foreskin in an uncircumcised penis that you want to watch for and report to your doctor. It's also time to ensure your teen knows how to properly clean their genitals to prevent problems.

A Word From Verywell

If you have any questions about how your teen is going through puberty, your pediatrician or family healthcare provider can provide you with information specific to your teen. Then, with some information (and a sense of humor), you and your teen will make it through puberty together.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Physical development in girls: What to expect during puberty.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Puberty: Is your daughter on track, ahead or behind?.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Boys, BO and peach fuzz: What to expect in puberty.

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Physical development in boys: What to expect.

  5. Karapanou O, Papadimitriou A. Determinants of menarcheReprod Biol Endocrinol. 2010;8:115. doi:10.1186/1477-7827-8-115

By Barbara Poncelet
 Barbara Poncelet, CRNP, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner specializing in teen health.