Puberty 101


Another amazing thing your body does all on its own is grow up. You have probably noticed the way your body has changed since you were a little kid. When you were little, your body was kind of round and you had short arms and legs. Now that your body is older, your legs and arms are longer, your face may be a different shape, and your torso has probably changed size. This all happens without you deciding to grow up. Your body does it for you.

Your body is pretty amazing. Even when you are sleeping, your body is busy taking care of itself. It is making sure you eat when you need to, it is breathing air in and out, it is making sure you stay warm, and it is even taking the waste out of your body.


But, how does it know how to take care of itself? Your brain tells your body what to do. It tells your lungs to breath in air through your trachea. It tells your heart to pump blood around your body so it will be warm and have oxygen. It tells your stomach and digestive tract to digest your food. It tells your liver to sort all the nutrients. It tells your kidneys to take the waste out. The most amazing part of this is that you do not even need to think about this. Your brain tells your body what to do and when to do it all on its own.

Basic Anatomy for Kids

Growing up also means becoming an adult. You have probably noticed that all the adults you know have bodies that look different from yours. Men often have hair growing on their faces, necks or chest and may have broad shoulders. Women often have breasts and have wide hips. As you grow up, your body will change to look more like the bodies of adult men and women. This happens through a process called puberty and everyone must go through it to become an adult. It's different and unique for every person and is part of what makes you unique.

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Puberty is a process your body goes through all on its own. We already talked about how your brain tells your body to do things like breathing, getting rid of waste, and pumping blood. Your brain also tells your body when it is time to start becoming an adult. Your brain will start to send chemical signals, called hormones, to your body telling it to grow up.


If you have a female body, you probably have a vagina, uterus, and ovaries. The hormones your brain sends out will tell your ovaries that it is time to start producing eggs. Eventually, when you are an adult, you' will need eggs to get pregnant. But, because it takes a long time for your body to grow into an adult body, it is important that you start producing eggs now. Because you are producing eggs, you will also start having periods (also called menstruation), which is when your body bleeds for a few days, usually about once per month. This a normal part of having a female body and almost all the women you know experience this. We will talk a little bit more about why this is happening to your body in a little bit. This can start happening as young as 8 years old for some girls and as late as 14 years old for others.

If you have a male body, you probably have a penis and testicles. The hormones your brain sends out will tell your testicles that it is time to start producing sperm. Eventually, when you are an adult, you will need sperm to have children with someone you love. But, because it takes a long time for your body to grow into an adult body, it is important that you start producing sperm now. Because you are producing sperm, you will also start to have erections. Erections happen when blood rushes to your penis and makes it stand up and be hard. This a normal part of having a male body and almost all the men you know experience this. We will talk a little bit more about why this is happening to your body in a little bit. This can start happening as young as 9 years old for some boys and as late as 15 years old for others.


Another important part of growing up is learning to take good care of yourself. Now that you are older, you will need to learn how to keep yourself clean. You'll have to take more responsibility for what you eat and how much you eat. You will be in charge of making sure you exercise regularly. You will even have to take care of your mental health. These things can be a little scary, but find someone you trust, like your parents, aunts, uncles, or teachers, to talk to about the changes your body and mind are going through. 

By now you are probably wondering a couple of things. You might be wondering if there is anything you can do to stop this from happening to you. While it may seem scary, you should know that everything that is going to happen to your body is perfectly normal and natural. Everyone must go through puberty to become an adult and you should not try to stop yourself from going through it.


You may also be wondering why all this is happening to you. Earlier we talked about how it takes a long time for your body to become an adult body. For many of you, becoming an adult will mean that you will want to have children. In order to have children, you will need to go through puberty. What does puberty have to do with having babies? Well, let's talk about that.

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When adults are ready, they may decide to have a baby. Everyone you know started life as a sperm and an egg. Sperm are little cells produced by men in their testicles. Eggs are little cells produced in a woman's ovaries. You need a sperm and an egg to come together to have a baby. Usually, this happens during sex. A man and a woman will have sex and his sperm will get into her vagina. In the drawing, this is what's happening next to the red number 1. After this, a woman must produce an egg from her ovaries (red number 2 in the drawing). The sperm and egg will meet up, usually in the fallopian tubes, and the egg will get fertilized (red number 3 in the drawing). After it gets fertilized, the egg will travel down the rest of the falopian tube (red number 4 in the drawing). Last, the egg will implant into the uterus and the woman will become pregnant (red number 5 in the drawing).

All of this may seem pretty overwhelming. You may wonder how your changing body is going to impact your life. You may feel nervous about growing up. Maybe you are worried this is going to be painful or wish that you could do something to keep this from happening. You should know that everything that is happening to you is normal and natural. There is nothing you can do to stop your body from going through puberty, but your family, teachers, doctors, coaches, and mentors can help you out when you need it. It is important to find an adult you trust to ask when you are not sure if what you are feeling is normal. They can also help you find the best way to deal with what you are feeling and give you advice about what to do about your changes.

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