Stages of Puberty
Puberty is a time of change in which males and females physically and sexually mature. This stage in life begins at approximately eight or nine years of age and ends at about 19 years, often starting earlier in girls than boys. Puberty may be divided into five stages. In girls, Stage One occurs between the ages of 8 and 11 and is characterized by an enlargement of the ovaries and the beginning of hormone production. Stage Two, occurring between 8 and 14 years is characterized by breast development, the beginning of pubic hair, an increase in height and weight, and the beginning of body curves. During Stage Three, between 9 and 15 years, breast development and pubic hair growth continues. Girls may experience their first menstrual period during this time. Females in Stage Four, from the ages of 10 to 16, experience a darkening of the areola and a more triangular pattern of pubic hair growth. If menstruation did not occur earlier, it will begin in this stage, as will ovulation. During Stage Five, between 12 and 19 years, females reach their full height, are fully developed, and ovulate regularly.
Males also progress through five stages of puberty. In Stage One, between 9 and 12 years, male hormones are produced and growth spurts may occur. Stage Two, from 9 to 15 years, is characterized by the development of muscle tissue and fat, an increase in height, an increase in the color and size of the areola, and the growth of the testicles and scrotum. In Stage Three, from 11 to 16 years, the penis increases in length and pubic hair grows darker and coarser. Males’ faces begin to mature, their shoulders broaden, facial hair begins to develop, and their voice deepens. Stage Four, between 11 to 17 years, is characterized by an increase in the width of the penis, as well as increased growth of the scrotum and testicles. Males grow greater amounts of underarm and facial hair and their voices continue to deepen. During the final stage, Stage Five between 14 to 18 years, males reach their full height and their genitals have an adult appearance.