What is puberty?

Puberty can be an exciting and confusing time. It’s a phase of rapid growth, where you’ll grow taller, many parts of your body change, and hair starts growing in new places. It can be difficult to adjust to all these new changes — but rest assured, it’s all completely normal! By the end of puberty, you’ll have the body of an adult, and be sexually and reproductively mature.

Puberty is caused by chemicals called hormones, which send signals around the body. These chemicals can change a lot of things – the way someone looks, feels… even the way they think! This might sound like a really big deal, but as long as you have an understanding of what you’re in for, you’ll be totally fine.

When does puberty happen?

It depends. Many people will see their bodies begin to change when they’re around 9 years old up to 13 years old. For some intersex people, puberty may start after the age of 14 — this is also normal. For some people, puberty doesn’t happen until their late teens.

If you or a friend has questions about when puberty will begin, we recommend visiting your doctor or your local sexual health clinic. They can answer any questions you have.

What are puberty blockers?

Puberty blockers are sometimes used by young trans and gender diverse folk, as it offers more time to figure out your gender identity. It’s often used while making decisions about beginning or waiting to begin hormonal affirmation. Learn more about puberty blockers and medical transitioning here.

What kind of changes are linked to puberty?
Periods or menstruation

One significant aspect of puberty for people with ovaries is menstruation, commonly referred to as having a period. Menstruation is a natural process where the lining of the uterus sheds approximately once a month. It usually begins between the ages of 9 and 15, although it can start earlier or later for some individuals.

Emotional changes

Puberty can change your emotions and the way you think. You might experience a greater sense of self, start feeling sexually attracted to others, and have changes in your mood, energy and sleep patterns. Your relationships might change too, like the way you engage with your friends and family. This might be challenging to adjust to, but don’t worry — it’s all normal! As our hormones change and we get older, our brains are developing too.


Masturbation (which means pleasuring yourself or exploring yourself sexually) is totally normal, healthy behaviour and is nothing to be ashamed of! Knowing what feels good for you is an important part of life and it can be really good for your health. Sadly there’s still quite a lot of societal stigma around masturbation and talking about masturbation, especially for women and people with vulvas. Check out this clip for more info:

Mood Swings

You may experience sudden changes in mood or feel very emotional at times. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but if it does happen, make sure to take care of yourself. Find some relaxation techniques that work for you — there are also many mental health apps that can help you to keep your cool.

Eat well

Puberty is a time of growth, and in order to grow we need to fuel ourselves with the best food possible (yep, that means fruit and veggies!). Check out this page for some healthy eating tips.

Where to get help

Puberty is a time of big changes, and it’s much easier to move through this period when you have support

  • Family Planning Alliance Australia has links to sexual health clinics around the country. Visiting a sexual health clinic is really useful if you want to talk to someone face-to-face about puberty or ask any questions you have about sex.
  • If you want to chat with someone about your gender or sexuality, free and confidential support is available for all LGBTQIA+ folk through Rainbow Door and QLife.
  • If your emotions feel like they’re becoming an issue, it might be a good idea to chat to a doctor, an adult you trust or a counsellor – read more here. If you need to speak to someone urgently, you can call Kids Help Line or Lifeline.

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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