Puberty FAQ's

Find answers to all your curious questions about Puberty!

Just like how we all grew from being a baby, to being a toddler, to being a child, we continue to grow from being a child into a teenager, then into an adult. Growing older is a part of living.

To feel more positive about growing older, make a list of all of the things you will be able to do as you get older to focus on happy things. For example, as you get older you can learn how to drive a car and get a license, get a job, as well as experience other things that a child cannot.

Puberty allows everyone’s body to become adult-sized, and if they are able to and want to, create a baby one day. To learn more about puberty, visit BLOOM’s Puberty page.

Actually, no. Puberty is the developmental phase of a child’s body maturing into an adult’s body. Adolescence is the period of time when a young person develops from a child into an adult. In other words, you experience the changes of puberty during adolescence.

All young people grow at the rate their bodies are meant to grow. Some young people start their growth spurt earlier than others because hormones in their bodies are released earlier than other people’s bodies. Other young people start pubertal changes later. There is no need to be concerned – instead, try to remember we all grow when we are supposed to grow and at the rate we are meant to grow.

Intersex is the term used when a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that is not “female” or “male” yet a variation of parts. For example, a person may appear to be a biological female on the outside, yet may have been born with biological male reproductive parts. Or a person may have been born with a larger clitoris and no vaginal opening. Sometimes the variations are noticed when a baby is born. Other times they appear as the preteen or teen approaches or begins puberty.

Yes! Bodily changes and moodiness are common for all preteens and teens. 

Absolutely! Preteens and teens with autism have the same body parts of other preteens and teens. Having autism may affect how a preteen or teen communicates and behaves, yet it usually doesn’t affect body parts and pubertal changes.

Sometimes, those who do not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth can experience some emotional difficulty, confusion, angst, and body dysmorphia if they are developing in a way that is not aligned with how they feel inside.  If this is the case, you are not alone.  Speak with a trusted adult about accessing resources that are available to you to help navigate your feelings and experience during puberty. You can also explore BLOOM’s Gender Identity page to learn more and find supportive resources.

Remember – everyone’s body is different.  Sometimes a young person requires medical care regarding basic pubertal growth and changes. This is not common for most young people; if this is needed, the medical professional will work with the young person so they can grow and be healthy.

Overall, the changes of puberty do not usually hurt. However, sometimes a young person may feel more tired or achy — we sometimes refer to this as “growing pains.” If you are hurting or feeling pain for some time, please talk with a trusted adult about what you are feeling.

Talking with anyone about a personal topic, like puberty, may at first be challenging. To feel more at ease, practice what to say beforehand. To practice, you can:

  • Write down what you want to say to the person. You can include questions or overall comments. Then check to make sure your statements are written in a friendly and kind manner.
  • Practice out loud what you want to say in the shower, on a walk, or any other time you are alone for a few moments. As you practice, try to phrase your statements in a positive and kind way. For example, instead of saying “You don’t talk to me about puberty,” practice saying “I would like to talk about puberty because I have some questions. Can we talk?”

After this practice, then go to the person when they are not distracted by something else and start talking. Sometimes talking during car, bus, or train rides can also help.

Young people experience a variety of feelings regarding puberty and what they experience. If you are enjoying the changes your body is making, good for you! Celebrate that your body is transitioning from being a child into a teenager, then an adult. Celebrating these transitions help people to focus on the positives in life, which is part of having a growth mindset.

Having a range of feelings/emotions is common for all human beings. During the preteen and teen years, feelings may change more frequently during the day. For example, you might feel sleepy in the morning, then excited later in the afternoon, then annoyed or moody at night. We typically call this being moody and it can occur more often during adolescence because of the increased amount of hormones being released by a young person’s body. Just remember that any angry or sad/depressed feelings that last for more than a few days require talking with a trusted adult for support. Check out BLOOM’s Healthy Mind page to learn more about navigating difficult emotions and building mental strength.

No, you are not weird. The most important thing to remember as you grow older is that you need to be YOU. Sometimes we all might choose to do something or act in a way that is not the “norm,” yet all of us have to figure out who we are and what we like to do.

Sometimes the people in our lives choose to spend time with others during their adolescent years. This is because not only does a person’s body change during puberty, but their brain, personality, and likes/dislikes might change too. Although losing a friend is difficult, try to partake in activities you like to meet new friends and have fun. Maybe one day in the future you may find your old friend reconnecting with you. To learn more about friendships, visit BLOOM’s Relationships Page.

 

Body Odor

First, remember to be kind to your friend about their smells; all of us are smelly some days. Then figure out a nice way of telling your friend about their odors.

  • One way of telling them is to privately remind them that everyone, including yourself, is going through puberty. And that one of the pubertal changes is increased body odor.
  • Another way is to tell them that you have decided to start washing more regularly, including your underarm areas and feet. If you are using a product to limit underarm odors, tell them this too. You may want to let them know that you carry your deodorant/anti-perspirant in your bag and that you reapply it when needed.
  • If they still don’t get the hint, you can say, “I feel awkward saying this, yet you are my friend and I care about you. You smell sometimes in a not-so-nice way. I think you are going through puberty like I am and need to wash more.” Usually, if we express true concern without judgment, our friends will listen. Think of it this way—if you had spinach in your teeth, wouldn’t you want your friend to tell you and tell you in a nice way?

Body parts that come in “twos,” or pairs, are not perfectly symmetrical. Just compare your two hands or eyes to one another. Odds are you will see slight differences. The same thing applies to breasts and testicles. One may be a little larger or smaller than the other and hang differently. That is natural and who you are! To learn more about your developing body, visit BLOOM’s Healthy Body page.

Yes! Some people have a vulva with a vaginal opening and clitoris. Some people have a penis and a scrotum sac. Some people have a combination of these things. All of these scenarios are fine. What is the same for everyone is having a urethra opening (for urine or “pee” to come out) and an anus (for feces or “poop” to come out). To learn more about your private parts and see the diverse range of what genitals may look like, visit BLOOM’s Healthy Body page.

Pubic hair begins to grow once you reach a certain stage in puberty. This hair grows on the outer skin of your genital area including on the scrotum sac, at the base of the penis, and the outside labia lips. This hair first starts growing in a small area then spreads over a larger area towards your lower abdomen and upper inner legs. It grows because of the increase in the release of certain hormones in your body. It may seem weird yet our ancestors have had pubic hair growth for centuries. To learn more about your genitals, visit BLOOM’s Healthy Body page.

First, remain calm. Sometimes a period comes when we aren’t expecting it. That is okay. To prepare for this, keep a menstrual product, like a pad or tampon, in your backpack or locker. If you don’t have one, ask the school nurse or another person working at the school, like a trusted teacher. People who work at schools know people have periods so menstrual products can usually be found somewhere.

 

Just like most decisions in life, everyone has the right to decide what is best for them. Some people with menstrual cycles like using tampons; others like using menstrual pads. And then others use menstrual cups or menstrual underwear, or a combination of these products depending upon their mood, amount of menstrual flow, and physical activities. All of these are acceptable to use.

If you have specific sensory or motor needs, check with your school nurse, OT, or caregivers to help identify what products might be best for you. Some people choose to wear disposable gloves if they are initially nervous handling their own hygiene products, others may need support specific for their motor needs on how to be as independent as possible. To learn more about period products and which ones are right for you, visit BLOOM’s Period Products page.

No, no one knows you have your period unless you tell them. These days there are a variety of menstrual products a person can use in which no one knows which one you are wearing/using unless you tell them or they see it in your backpack or locker (this is okay; we all have personal items in our personal spaces).

A wet dream, also called a nocturnal emission, is a natural and normal occurrence that some young people with a penis experience. Usually, no one will know this occurred unless you tell them. Sometimes, though, your family members may know because you told them or they notice you cleaning your bed sheets and pajamas more often. It’s ok to ask a family member to teach you how to do the laundry so you can take care of it yourself.

Sometimes a person with a penis may experience an erection, hardening of the penis, unexpectedly. Like you noted, this can happen at school as well as at other times during the day. Realize this happens because your body is practicing what it means to be a sexual being. As you get older, you will be able to have more control over getting erections. In the meantime, when you get one now, try to think of something that does not “turn you on,” like eating liver and onions or some boring historical fact/mathematical equation. Also, you can shift your penis to make it less noticeable, place a jacket or book on your lap, go somewhere private until the erection goes away, and/or wear baggy pants, boxer shorts, or an untucked shirt/sweater to make things less noticeable.

Touching a body part, including those in the genital area, for fun or pleasure is called masturbation. And, yes, touching your body parts is okay. Masturbation is a healthy form of self exploration people choose to do in private. Masturbation can be a concern, though, if it interrupts your daily activities, makes your genitals sore, or if you choose to do this in front of others without them wanting you to.

Having a sexual relationship requires much responsibility and maturity. This includes having effective communication skills, making smart decisions, making sure a person provides consent and is able to do so. Just because your genitals are maturing and becoming more adult-like, does not mean you need to use your body parts for sex.

 

Great question! Just because your genitals are maturing and becoming more adult-like does not mean you need to use your body parts for sexual activities. Deciding to have a sexual relationship requires smart decision-making skills and mature conversations about consent with another person. Many young people realize the responsibility behind this decision and decide to make sure they are more prepared when they reach a certain age. Talking with a trusted caregiver can help a person figure out what is best for them.

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