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What is puberty?

Puberty is the time in life when a person becomes sexually mature. It is a physical change that usually
happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys. Some African American girls start
puberty earlier than white girls, making their age range for puberty 9 to 14.

What are the signs of puberty?

Puberty affects boys and girls differently.

• In females:
o The first sign of puberty is usually breast development.
o Other signs are the growth of hair in the pubic area and armpits, and acne.
o Menstruation (or a period) usually happens last.

• In males:
o Puberty usually begins with the testicles and penis getting bigger.
o Then hair grows in the pubic area and armpits.
o Muscles grow, the voice deepens, and acne and facial hair develop as puberty continues.

Both boys and girls usually have a growth spurt (a rapid increase in height) that lasts for about 2 or 3 years
along with the signs listed above. This brings them closer to their adult height, which they reach after

Effects of Pregnancy on Teens

Facing an unplanned teen pregnancy can be hard. The effects of teenage pregnancy are not
limited to having to decide whether or not to keep the baby, how to cope with motherhood or
whether to make an adoption plan. One of the most immediate effects of teen pregnancy is how
the growing baby changes a teenager's body as well as their lifestyle.

Because a teen's body immediately begins the process of carrying a child and preparing for
childbirth, a teenager needs to consider the effect that her physical activities may have on her
developing baby. A variety of activities common to teens may have a negative effect on a
developing baby:

• Drinking alcoholic beverages

• Smoking cigarettes or marijuana
• Lack of sleep
• Unhealthy eating patterns

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Also called: Sexually transmitted infections, STDs, Venereal disease
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that you can get from having sex with
someone who has the infection. The causes of STDs are bacteria, parasites and viruses. There
are more than 20 types of STDs, including

• Chlamydia
• Gonorrhea
• Herpes Simplex
• Syphilis
• Trichomoniasis

Most STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can
be more severe for women. If a pregnant woman has an STD, it can cause serious health
problems for the baby.

If you have an STD caused by bacteria or parasites, your health care provider can treat it with
antibiotics or other medicines. If you have an STD caused by a virus, there is no cure. Sometimes
medicines can keep the disease under control. Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces,
but does not completely eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading STDs.