By Dr. Charlotte Markey

When adults talk with kids about puberty, they are often very serious — and typically very awkward, too.  The focus is almost always on menstruation or genital development.  I’m here to offer other information and a different view:  the changes you experience during puberty are amazing!  Our bodies change all the time, but they change a great deal during the preteen and teen years.There is nothing to be embarrassed about; you should be proud of your changing body and these changes should be celebrated!

Here are some cool things you may not realize about the changes your body undergoes during puberty.

Your heart gets bigger

During puberty, your heart nearly doubles in size.However, boys’ hearts are usually notably larger than girls (partially just because boys are usually bigger than girls overall).  This dramatic change serves an important purpose:  your heart can move blood through your body more efficiently.  This actually allows your heartbeat to slow down.  It also seems that the size of your heart is associated with your aerobic fitness.

Your bones grow

You probably expect to get taller during your teen years, but you may never have thought to wonder how this happens.  Your bones grow in length and this is a big contributor to your height.  Your bones also become thicker and stronger.  In fact, your skeleton will weigh almost twice as much at the end of puberty than it did at the start.

Your hormone levels change

Before puberty, boys’ and girls’ hormones are very similar.  This changes during the teen years with girls’ development of more female hormones (called estrogens) and boys’ development of more male hormones (called androgens).  Both boys and girls have estrogens and androgens, but the hormone levels shift during puberty.  Teens’ hormones are often blamed for all sorts of things during puberty, from their moods to their inability to focus.  Your hormones do definitely have the potential to affect your behaviors and emotions, but teenagers don’t become “possessed” hormonal creatures – no matter what their parents say!

Your shape and weight will change

During puberty, boys’ shoulders become wider in a way that makes them look more “manly.”   Girls’ hips become wider, giving them more of a feminine, hourglass shape.  These changes are unavoidable and likely to mean that how your clothes fit you will change.  This is totally normal!

You will also gain weight during puberty.  Scientists’ estimates regarding how much weight is gained varies, but you could gain around 25 pounds in a short period of time.  It may be unsettling to notice these significant changes in your body, but think about how amazing it is that your body transforms into an adult’s body in such a short period of time.

Some of the changes that your body experiences during puberty will be obvious, like your getting taller and your shoe size increasing.  Some of the changes won’t be obvious at all, like your heart growing and your hormone levels changing.  Some people will complete puberty during middle school (typically, girls) and some (typically, boys) may keep growing after high school.  No two people’s experiences are exactly the same.

Even if it seems that puberty has come and gone for you, your body will continue to change across adulthood.  Taking good care of yourself and developing good habits, such as getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly, are important ways for you to make sure your body stays healthy and strong.


Dr. Charlotte Markey. Psychologist, professor and scientist, Dr. Markey has been a leading body image expert for more than two decades. Now, Dr. Markey applies her academic research, her findings after interviewing hundreds of girls, and her practical experience as mother of a teen to a new, evidence-based yet easy-to-read book for girls ages 9yrs -15yrs. THE BODY IMAGE BOOK FOR GIRLS: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless