Puberty in Girls: Girls’ Puberty Stages

Body changes during puberty

If you’re starting puberty, you may already recognize some things happening to you. Everyone goes through puberty at different rates and in different orders, so don’t worry if you haven’t experienced all the signs of girls’ puberty yet. Here are the basics to help you get ready for

Growing really fast

You'll notice that you may grow faster than you did during childhood. This is known as a “growth spurt.” First, you may notice your feet and hands getting bigger. Next, your arm and leg bones grow, making you taller. This may be an awkward time, but eventually your body will even out and be more proportional. You may gain some weight to match the increase in your bone size.

Developing breasts

Your breasts develop in stages. At first you may notice what feel like little “buds,” or swellings, under your nipples. After that your breasts will gradually get bigger and fuller, and may become a little sore. One breast may grow more than the other at first, but they'll even out later (most women have one breast that is larger than the other, but the difference is usually small). Remember, every girl is different. How large or small your breasts become depends on the physical, genetic traits in your family. Full breast development takes two to three years.

Body hair

Soon, hair will start growing in the pubic area, the area that extends from your lower stomach to between your legs. In some girls, pubic hair may appear before breast development. At first, this hair is soft and there's not much of it. Later, it grows longer and becomes a little curly. Although it starts growing between the legs, it eventually covers the entire pubic area and may include the upper, inner thighs. This usually takes two to three years. A few months after pubic hair begins to grow, hair will also grow under your arms.

A more curvy shape

Girls’ puberty means developing a figure. As your pelvis (the large bone across your hips) begins to grow, your hips get wider, your breasts develop and your waist gets smaller. In other words, your body becomes softer and shapelier. Some girls also gain weight quickly during this time.

Increased sweating

Your sweat glands will become larger and more active, and you'll sweat more. This may happen even before your breasts develop.

Oily skin and hair

During puberty, the pores in your skin produce more oil, especially on your face. This can cause acne. You may have to wash your hair and face more often now that you're going through puberty.

Changes in your genitals

Your genitals also grow and change during puberty. Your outside parts (the vulva) are enclosed by two sets of “lips.” The larger lips have hair; the inner, smaller lips don't. These increase in size a little bit. Inside your body, the vagina is getting longer and the uterus is getting bigger.

Discharge

You may have heard it mentioned. It’s the fluid that's produced by your body to moisten and cleanse the vagina. Before you start your period, you'll probably notice yellow or white stains inside your underwear. This is natural moisture from the vagina. It's perfectly normal and it's a sign that you’ll probably start having periods in a few more months.

Your discharge may be heavy or barely noticeable – both are normal. However, if it has a bad smell or you have any pain, soreness or itching in the genital area, it may be a sign of infection. In this case, make sure you see a doctor.

Your period

For the first two years your periods can be very unpredictable. You could have one period and then wait as long as six months for the next one. One period may last a day, while the next lasts ten days. It typically takes one to two years for menstrual cycles to become regular. Just remember that just like all the other body changes you are experiencing, it’s perfectly normal.

Sources

  • Emans, Laufer, Goldstein's Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, fourth edition, by S. Jean Emans and Marc R. Laufer