Puberty is the time during which adolescents develop sexual maturity. It can be confusing and awkward time for your child. The age at which puberty starts differs from person to person, with puberty typically affecting girls sooner, at around age 11. Boys typically start puberty around the age of 12, states the American Academy of Family Physicians. As puberty progresses, your body experiences many changes, which vary depending on your gender.
One of the most noticeable effects of puberty is the change in sexual characteristics, which usually starts at around 11 to 12.. For girls, this includes the growing of the breasts, in order to later support nursing a child. In boys, the testicles grow in size and drop further from the body, and the penis also grows in both length and width.
During puberty hair growth occurs on other areas of the body besides the head, arms and legs. For both preteen boys and girls, hair begins to grow in the groin area as well as the armpits and legs. Boys may also start to notice more facial hair growth, although this is not necessarily limited to boys alone. Girls may also see facial hair growth, although usually less coarse and a lighter color.
For girls, puberty typically marks the beginning of menstruation. Menstruation, commonly called a period, is the process in which a girl starts ovulating. During this process an egg is released from the ovaries, and the increase of hormones creates excess tissue build up in the uterus. When the egg is not fertilized, the body sloughs the egg and excess tissue lining through the vagina. This process happens every month through the rest of puberty and into the adult years and it generally starts between the ages to 10 and 14, according to Medline Plus.
For 12 to 16 year old boys, puberty is also marked by a change in voice pitch. Through this process the voice may crack as the body adjusts to a deeper tone of voice. This cracking is typically temporary until the final lower pitch is reached.
Acne is also a common effect of puberty that occurs during the preteen and teenage years. The hormones that are released by the body during the process not only help the body mature, but can also cause the sebacious glands to produce more sebum oil, states the American Academy of Dermatology. This excess oil can combine with dead skin cells in your follicles to form soft plugs called comedones, more commonly known as blackheads or whiteheads. These comedones may then progress into more inflammatory forms of acne, such as papules or pustules, or in severe cases acne cysts or nodules.