Puberty is the time in life when a boy or girl becomes sexually mature. It is a process that usually happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys. It causes physical changes, and affects boys and girls differently.

In girls:

  • The first sign of puberty is usually breast development.
  • Then hair grows in the pubic area and armpits.
  • Menstruation (or a period) usually happens last.

In boys:

  • Puberty usually begins with the testicles and penis getting bigger.
  • Then hair grows in the pubic area and armpits.
  • Muscles grow, the voice deepens, and facial hair develops as puberty continues.

Both boys and girls may get acne. They also usually have a growth spurt (a rapid increase in height) that lasts for about 2 or 3 years. This brings them closer to their adult height, which they reach after puberty.

NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Central precocious puberty is a condition that causes early sexual development in girls and boys. While puberty normally starts between ages 8 and 13 in girls and between ages 9 and 14 in boys, girls with central precocious puberty begin exhibiting signs before age 8, and boys with this disorder begin before age 9. Signs of puberty include development of pubic and underarm hair, a rapid increase in height (commonly referred to as a “growth spurt”), acne, and underarm odor. Girls also develop breasts and begin their menstrual periods. Boys have growth of the penis and testes and deepening of the voice. Because of the early growth spurt, children with central precocious puberty may be taller than their peers; however, they may stop growing abnormally early. Without proper treatment, some affected individuals are shorter in adulthood compared with other members of their family. Developing ahead of their peers can be emotionally difficult for affected individuals and may lead to psychological and behavioral problems.

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