Physical changes

Puberty is the time in which sexual and physical characteristics mature. The exact age a child enters puberty depends on a number of different things, such as genes, nutrition and sex. Most girls and boys enter puberty between 10-16 years of age although some start earlier or later. Girls tend to enter puberty two years before boys.

Young people at different age groups (showing physical changes)

Young people at different age groups (showing physical changes) at ages 10-14, 15-19 and 20-24 from the left to the right.

The box below details the main physical changes that occur during puberty in males and females. It is the changing hormonal activity within their bodies that brings about these changes.

Physical changes during adolescence

Physical changes observed in females:

  • Skin becomes oily, sometimes with pimples and acne
  • Hair grows under arms, pubic area, legs
  • Breasts grow
  • Hips broaden, weight and height increase, hands, feet, arms, and legs become larger
  • Perspiration increases and body odour may appear
  • Voice deepens
  • Menstruation begins, more wetness in the vaginal area.

Physical changes observed in males:

  • Skin becomes oily, sometimes with pimples and acne
  • Hair grows under arms, pubic areas, legs, chest, face
  • Muscles especially in legs and arms get bigger and stronger
  • Shoulders and chest broaden, weight and height increase, hands, feet, arms and legs become larger
  • Perspiration increases and body odour may appear
  • Voice cracks and then deepens
  • Penis and testicles grow and begin to hang down
  • Wet dreams and erection occur frequently
  • Ejaculation occurs during sexual climax.
Last modified: Tuesday, 1 July 2014, 2:21 PM