Home | The Team | Work For Us | Travel Clinic | Meeting Rooms | Contact

prescriptions
Appointments
Register

Live Well Newsfeed

Stages of puberty: what happens to boys and girls

Stages of puberty: what happens to boys and girls

Puberty is when a child’s body begins to develop and change as they become an adult. Girls develop breasts and start their periods, and boys develop a deeper voice and start to look like men.

The average age for girls to begin puberty is 11, while for boys the average age is 12. But there’s no set timetable, so don’t worry if your child reaches puberty before or after their friends. It’s completely normal for puberty to begin at any point from the ages of 8 to 14. The process takes about four years overall.

Late or early puberty

Children who begin puberty either very early (before the age of 8) or very late (after 14) should see a doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition.

Read more about puberty problems.

This page covers:

First signs of puberty in girls

  • The first sign of puberty in girls is usually that their breasts begin to develop. It’s normal for breast buds to sometimes be very tender or for one breast to start to develop several months before the other one
  • Pubic hair also starts to grow and some girls may notice more hair on their legs and arms.  

Later signs of puberty in girls

After a year or so of puberty beginning, and for the next couple of years:

  • Girls' breasts continue to grow and become fuller.
  • Around two years after beginning puberty, girls usually have their first period. Read more about starting periods.
  • Pubic hair becomes coarser and curlier.
  • Underarm hair begins to grow. Some girls also have hair in other parts of their body, such as their top lip. This is completely normal.
  • Girls start to sweat more.
  • Girls often get acne – a skin condition that shows up as different types of spots including whiteheads, blackheads and pus-filled spots called pustules.
  • Girls have a white vaginal discharge.
  • Girls go through a growth spurt. From the time their periods start, girls grow 5-7.5 cm (2-3 inches) annually over the next year or two, then reach their adult height.
  • Most girls gain weight – and it’s normal for this to happen – as their body shape changes. Girls develop more body fat along their upper arms, thighs and upper back; their hips grow rounder and their waist gets narrower.

After about four years of puberty in girls

  • Breasts becomes adult-like.
  • Pubic hair has spread to the inner thigh.
  • Genitals should now be fully developed.
  • Girls stop growing taller.

First  signs of puberty in boys

  • The first sign of puberty in boys is usually that their testicles get bigger and the scrotum begins to thin and redden.
  • Pubic hair also starts to appear at the base of the penis.

Later signs of puberty in boys

After a year or so of puberty starting, and for the next couple of years:

  • The penis and testicles grow and the scrotum gradually becomes darker. Read more about penis health
  • Pubic hair becomes thicker and curlier.
  • Underarm hair starts to grow.
  • Boys start to sweat more.
  • Breasts can swell slightly temporarily – this is normal and is not the same as "man-boobs".
  • Boys may have "wet dreams" (involuntary ejaculations of semen as they sleep). 
  • Their voice "breaks" and gets permanently deeper. For a while, a boy might find his voice goes very deep one minute and very high the next.
  • Boys often develop acne – a skin condition that shows up as different types of spots, including whiteheads, blackheads and pus-filled spots called pustules. 
  • Boys go through a growth spurt and become taller by an average of 7-8cms, or around 3 inches a year, and more muscular. 

After about four years of puberty in boys

  • Genitals look like an adult’s and pubic hair has spread to the inner thighs.
  • Facial hair begins to grow and boys may start shaving.
  • Boys get taller at a slower rate and stop growing completely at around 16 years of age (but may continue to get more muscular). 
  • Most boys will have reached full adult maturity by 18 years of age. 

Mood changes in puberty

Puberty can be a difficult time for children. They're coping with changes in their body, and possibly acne or body odour as well, at a time when they feel self-conscious.

Puberty can also be an exciting time, as children develop new emotions and feelings. But the "emotional rollercoaster" they’re on can have psychological and emotional effects, such as:

For more information on what to expect and how to handle puberty-related mood changes, read our articles on teen aggression, coping with your teenager and talking to your teen.

Puberty  support for children

If children are worried or confused about any part of puberty, it may help them to talk to a close friend or relative.

Puberty support for parents and carers

  • "Surviving Adolescence   a toolkit for parents" is a leaflet that gives parents and carers clear information on what to expect when children hit adolescence, including why they’re likely to become sulky, suddenly start dieting, have crushes on friends, and crave excitement.
  • The FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) has a range of online leaflets that give advice on talking to your children about growing up, sex and relationships. 

Using e-cigarettes to stop smoking

Using e-cigarettes to stop smoking

Over recent years, e-cigarettes have become a very popular stop smoking aid in the UK. Evidence is still developing on how effective they are, but many people have found them helpful for quitting.

An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine without most of the harmful effects of smoking.

E-cigarettes work by heating and creating a vapour from a solution that typically contains nicotine; a thick, colourless liquid called propylene glycol and/or glycerine; and flavourings. As there is no burning involved, there is no smoke.

Will e-cigarettes help me stop smoking?

Research shows that e-cigarettes can help you give up smoking. 

If you want to use an e-cigarette to help you quit, you’ll give yourself the best chance if you get expert support from your local NHS stop smoking service. In the year up to April 2015, two out of three people who used e-cigarettes in combination with the NHS stop smoking service quit smoking successfully.

Find your nearest NHS stop smoking service on the NHS Smokefree website, or call the Smokefree National Helpline to speak to a trained adviser on 0300 123 1044.

Different things work for different people and, particularly if you’ve already tried other methods of quitting smoking without success, you might want to give e-cigarettes a go.

Read more about stopping smoking using e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes on prescription

Currently, there are no e-cigarettes on the market that are licensed as medicines, which means they are not available on prescription from the NHS. 

Once medicinally licensed e-cigarette products come onto the market, GPs and stop smoking services will be able to prescribe them alongside other stop smoking medicines.

Read about other stop smoking treatments.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

E-cigarettes do not produce tar and carbon monoxide two of the main toxins in conventional cigarette smoke. The vapour from e-cigarettes has been found to contain some potentially harmful chemicals also found in cigarette smoke, but at much lower levels.

E-cigarettes are still fairly new and we won’t have a full picture on their safety until they have been in use for many years. However, according to current evidence on e-cigarettes, they carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes.

New rules for e-cigarettes and their refill containers came into effect in the UK on May 20 2016. These rules ensure that there are minimum standards for the safety and quality of all e-cigarettes and refill containers.

Possible safety concerns

There are two types of safety concerns associated with e-cigarettes:

  • a fault with the e-cigarette device that could make it unsafe to use
  • side effects to your health caused by using your e-cigarette

It's important that any e-cigarette safety concerns are reported and monitored, which you can do through the Yellow Card Scheme.

How to get more fibre into your diet

How to get more fibre into your diet

Most of us need to eat more fibre and have fewer added sugars in our diet. Eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Government guidelines published in July 2015 say that our dietary fibre intake should increase to 30g a day, as part of a healthy balanced diet. As most adults are only eating an average of about 18g day, we need to find ways of increasing our intake.

Children under the age of 16 don't need as much fibre in their diet as older teenagers and adults, but they still need more than they get currently:

  • 2-5 year-olds: need about 15g of fibre a day
  • 5-11 year-olds: need about 20g
  • 11-16 year-olds: need about 25g

On average, children and teenagers are only getting around 15g or less of fibre a day. Encouraging them to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and starchy foods (choosing wholegrain versions and potatoes with the skins on where possible) can help to ensure they are eating enough fibre.

Why do we need fibre in our diet?

There is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre (commonly referred to as roughage) is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Choosing foods with fibre also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation.

Find out more about the importance of fibre and when you may need to reduce your intake, in Why is fibre important?

Tips to increase your fibre intake

It's important to get fibre from a variety of sources, as eating too much of one type of food may not provide you with a healthy balanced diet. 

To increase your fibre intake you could:

  • Choose a higher-fibre breakfast cereal such as plain wholewheat biscuits (like Weetabix) or plain shredded whole grain (like Shredded wheat), or porridge as oats are also a good source of fibre. Find out more about healthy breakfast cereals.
  • Go for wholemeal or granary breads, or higher fibre white bread, and choose wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
  • Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes. Find out more about starchy foods and carbohydrates.
  • Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.
  • Include plenty of vegetables with meals, either as a side dish or added to sauces, stews or curries. Find out more about how to get your 5 A DAY.
  • Have some fresh or dried fruit, or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert. Because dried fruit is sticky, it can increase the risk of tooth decay, so it's better if it is only eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a between-meal snack.
  • For snacks, try fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes and unsalted nuts or seeds.

Fibre in your daily diet

Listed below is the fibre content of some example meals.

Fibre at breakfast

Two thick slices of wholemeal toasted bread (6.5g of fibre) topped with one sliced banana (1.4g) and a small glass of fruit smoothie drink (1.5g) will give you around 9.4g of fibre.

Fibre at lunch

A baked jacket potato with the skin on (2.6g) with a 200g portion of reduced-sugar and reduced-salt baked beans in tomato sauce (9.8g) followed by an apple (1.2g) will give you around 13.6g of fibre.

Fibre at dinner

Mixed vegetable tomato-based curry cooked with onion and spices (3.3g) with wholegrain rice (2.8g) followed by a lower fat fruit yoghurt (0.4g) will give you around 6.5g of fibre. Bear in mind that fruit yoghurts can sometimes be high in added sugars, so check the label and try to choose lower-sugar versions.

Fibre as a snack

A small handful of nuts can have up to 3g of fibre. Make sure you choose unsalted nuts, such as plain almonds, without added sugars.

Total: Around 32.5g of fibre

Fibre on food labels

The above example is only an illustration, as the amount of fibre in any food can depend on how it is made or prepared and on how much of it you eat. Most pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label on the side or back of the packaging, which often gives you a guide about how much dietary fibre the food contains.

Passive smoking: protect your family and friends

Passive smoking: protect your family and friends

Secondhand smoke is dangerous, especially for children. The best way to protect loved ones is to quit smoking. At the very least, make sure you have a smokefree home and car.

When you smoke a cigarette (or roll-up, pipe or cigar), most of the smoke doesn't go into your lungs, it goes into the air around you where anyone nearby can breathe it in.

Secondhand smoke is the smoke that you exhale plus the 'sidestream' smoke created by the lit end of your cigarette.

When friends and family breathe in your secondhand smoke – what we call passive smoking – it isn't just unpleasant for them, it can damage their health too.

People who breathe in secondhand smoke regularly are more likely to get the same diseases as smokers, including lung cancer and heart disease.

Pregnant women exposed to passive smoke are more prone to premature birth and their baby is more at risk of low birthweight and cot death.

And children who live in a smoky house are at higher risk of breathing problems, asthma, and allergies.

How to protect against secondhand smoke

The only surefire way to protect your friends and family from secondhand smoke is to keep the environment around them smoke free.

The best way to do that is to quit smoking completely. If you're not ready to quit, make every effort to keep your cigarette smoke away from other people and never smoke indoors or in the car.

  • Always smoke outside
  • Ask your visitors to smoke outside
  • Don't smoke in the car or allow anyone else to

Take steps NOW to stop smoking.

The risks of passive smoking

Secondhand smoke is a lethal cocktail of more than 4,000 irritants, toxins and cancer-causing substances.

Most secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, so no matter how careful you think you're being, people around you still breathe in the harmful poisons.

Opening windows and doors or smoking in another room in the house doesn't protect people. Smoke can linger in the air for two to three hours after you've finished a cigarette, even with a window open. And even if you limit smoking to one room, the smoke will spread to the rest of the house where people can inhale it.

Is passive smoking harmful?

Read about stop smoking treatments.

Children and passive smoking

Passive smoking is especially harmful for children as they have less well-developed airways, lungs and immune systems.

It's estimated that more than one in five children in the UK live in a household where at least one person smokes and, as a result, they're more likely to develop:

Children are particularly vulnerable in the family car where secondhand smoke can reach hazardous levels even with the windows open.

It's estimated that smoking in cars produces concentrations of toxins up to 11 times higher than you used to find in the average smoky pub.

To protect children, there is a new ban on smoking in cars and other vehicles carrying children. From October 1 2015 it is against the law to smoke in a private vehicle if there’s a young person under-18 present.

Read about the new law on smoking in private vehicles.

How safe is e-cig vapour?

E-cigarettes don't produce tobacco smoke so the risks of passive smoking with conventional cigarettes don't apply to e-cigs.

Research into this area is ongoing, but it seems that e-cigs release negligible amounts of nicotine into the atmosphere and the limited evidence available suggests that any risk from passive vaping to bystanders is small relative to tobacco cigarettes.

In England, the Government has no plans to ban vaping indoors (although some employers have banned them in the workplace) but some health professionals recommend avoiding using them around pregnant women, babies and children.

Read about the safety of e-cigarettes.

Your GP can give you advice about quitting smoking.

Become a practice health champion
Ridge Text Messaging Service

Great Horton

Great Horton Surgery

The Ridge Medical Centre
Cousen Road
Bradford
BD7 3JX

Tel: 01274 425600
Fax: 01274 425610

Email Enquiry
Opening Times & Google Map

Wibsey

Wibsey Surgery

93 Smith Avenue
Wibsey
Bradford
BD6 1HA

Tel: 01274 425600
Fax: 01274 425610

Opening Times & Google Map

Manningham

Manningham Surgery

Westbourne Green Community Health
50 Heaton Road
Bradford
BD8 8RA

Tel: 01274 425600
Fax: 01274 425610

Opening Times & Google Map

Buttershaw

Buttershaw Surgery

Royds Healthy Living Centre
20 Ridings Way
Off The Cresent
Buttershaw
Bradford
BD6 3UD

Tel: 01274 321888
Fax: 01274 322029

Opening Times & Google Map

Website Designed & Developed by DMD Design & Marketing Ltd