Know Your Body

Assigned Female at Birth |
Assigned Male at Birth | Puberty

No two bodies are exactly the same. People have different skin colors, amounts of body hair, and different shapes and sizes of body parts. Understanding your body and all its unique features is the best way to learn to take care of it. The goal here is to explain the basic reproductive body parts and to talk about the changes you may experience as your body matures.

A quick note on language: in this section we use “assigned female at birth” to refer to people with a vulva, and we use “assigned male at birth” to refer to people with a penis. These are the external reproductive features that healthcare professionals examine on a newborn to determine assigned sex. You can find more information on sex assigned at birth at Sexual Orientation and Gender.

Remember: no matter what kind of anatomy someone has, that doesn’t necessarily determine their gender.

Assigned Female at Birth

Learn more: Assigned Female at Birth

 

Assigned Male at Birth

Learn more: Assigned Male at Birth

 

Puberty

When you’re between 8 and 14 years old, you’ll start going through puberty. During this time, the body changes from being like a child to a young adult. Puberty happens earlier for some people than others, but eventually everyone experiences it. This won’t happen all at once; changes will happen slowly over a few years and will include physical, emotional, and social changes.

Everybody:

  • May get acne (zits or pimples)
  • Starts to sweat more, and may have body odor
  • Grows hair in your armpits, on your arms and legs, and around your genitals
  • May have stronger/more intense emotions (including mood swings)
  • May experience more sexual thoughts and urges

Assigned Female at Birth:

  • Breasts develop and grow
  • Hips get wider
  • Menstruation starts (getting your period)
  • Labia (the skin folds of the vagina) may change color and grow 

Learn more: Assigned Female at Birth page

Assigned Male at Birth:

  • Voice gets deeper, and Adam’s apple (bump in your throat) might get bigger
  • Penis and testicles grow
  • Hair may grow on face, chest, and back
  • Chest and shoulders get broader
  • May have some have swelling around the nipples (this can look like the start of breasts but usually goes away)

Learn more: Assigned Male at Birth page

Puberty can be a confusing time. Some people may feel like there’s a lot happening that’s out of their control. You don’t have to go through it alone. Talking with a trusted adult may help you sort out your feelings. 

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