You know how everyone says that puberty is all about raging hormones? It’s kind of true. Hormones that were hibernating suddenly awaken and signal your body to enter puberty. You might think this doesn’t mean a lot, but hormones cause the changes that are associated with puberty.
Timing of Puberty
Puberty starts and progresses at different times for everyone. It can start as early as 8 years of age to as late as 13. The sequence of puberty in girls, from breast development to complete physical maturation, may take a year and a half or last as long as six years.
This is sometimes difficult for girls because some of their peers may have entered and completed puberty before they have even started. There is no way to slow or speed up the process, but puberty happens to everyone, so never fear, it will happen to you!
You may have heard that girls mature more quickly than guys, and that is somewhat true. Girls usually enter puberty about 2 years earlier than boys.
Below is a general timeline for physical changes that occur during girls’ puberty:
|Puberty Event||Age at Which it Starts|
|Growth of breasts||8 to 13|
|Growth of pubic hair||8 to 14|
|Body growth||9 1/2 to 14 1/2|
|First period||10 to 16 1/2|
|Underarm hair||2 years after pubic hair shows up|
|Acne||Around the same time as underarm hair|
Remember, puberty is not the same for everyone, so some girls will grow pubic hair before they develop breasts, and that is absolutely normal.
Breast development starts with the flat area around the nipple (areola) becoming enlarged and some breast tissue forming under the nipple. When breast development is complete, each breast is distinct and the areola no longer appears swollen.
Breast size varies from woman to woman, and there is no way to try to make your breasts larger or smaller other than plastic surgery, which is not always a safe or healthy alternative.
Pubic hair starts along the vaginal lips, the outer opening of your private parts. The hair becomes darker and coarser and grows like an inverted triangle. Sometimes, the hair spreads to the insides of thighs as well.
Puberty also causes you to go through a growth spurt, which results in an average growth of about 3.5 inches a year.
Your head, hands and feet are the first things to grow. Then you grow in your arms and legs, and finally your torso and shoulders catch up with the rest of your body. If it’s any consolation, everyone goes through that awkward phase, so you are not alone!
Height growth is, of course, accompanied by an increase in weight. This weight gain is perfectly normal and a part of puberty. Without gaining this weight, you cannot grow taller, develop breasts or get your first period.
Finally, underarm hair begins to grow, and your sweat- and oil-producing glands also start developing, which eventually results in acne when these glands are clogged.
In order to avoid breakouts, you should wash your face twice daily. If you still regularly break out, you may want to speak to a dermatologist.
Influence of Puberty on Female Behavior
In addition to affecting a female’s appearance, puberty can also lead to some of the following behaviors:
- Sleeping a lot
- Feeling moody
- Some women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) around the time of their periods. PMS can include headaches, back pain, irritability or moodiness, feeling sad or emotional, bloating and breast tenderness. Some women don’t have any of these symptoms, while others have all of them and perhaps a few more. Cutting back on salty foods and caffeine may help reduce the symptoms.
Last Reviewed: October 2013
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