Puberty in girls


Definition

Puberty is when your body changes and you develop from being a girl to a woman. Learn what changes to expect so that you feel more prepared.

Alternative Names

Well child - puberty in girls; Development - puberty in girls; Menstruation - puberty in girls; Breast development - puberty in girls

Expect Changes with Puberty

Know that you are going through a growth spurt.

You have not grown this much since you were a baby. You might grow 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) in a year. When you are done going through puberty, you will be almost as tall as you will be when you are a grown up. Your feet may be the first to grow. They seem really big at first, but you will grow into them.

Expect to gain weight. This is normal and needed to have healthy menstrual cycles. You will notice that you get curvier, with bigger hips and breasts than when you were a little girl.

Expect Lots of Body Changes

Your body makes hormones to get puberty started. Here are some changes you will start seeing. You will:

Know When Puberty Happens

Most girls go through puberty somewhere between being 8 and 15 years old. There is a wide age range when puberty starts. That is why some kids in 7th grade still look like young children and others look really grown up.

You may wonder when you will get your period. Usually girls get their period about 2 years after their breasts start to grow.

Menstrual Periods

Each month, one of your ovaries releases an egg. The egg goes through the fallopian tube into the uterus.

Each month, the uterus creates a lining of blood and tissue. If the egg is fertilized by a sperm (this is what could happen with unprotected sex), the egg may plant itself into this uterus lining and result in a pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, it just passes through the uterus.

The uterus no longer needs the extra blood and tissue. The blood passes through the vagina as your period. The period usually lasts 2 to 7 days and happens about once a month.

Be prepared to get your period.

Talk to your provider about when you might start getting your period. Your provider may be able to tell you, from other changes in your body, when you should expect your period.

Keep supplies for your period in your backpack or purse. You will want some pads or pantiliners. Being prepared for when you get your period keeps you from being too worried.

Ask your mother, an older female relative, friend, or someone you trust to help you get supplies. Pads come in all different sizes. They have a sticky side so you can stick them on your underwear. Pantiliners are small, thin pads.

Once you have your period, you may want to learn how to use tampons. You insert a tampon into your vagina to absorb the blood. The tampon has a string that you use to pull it out.

Have your mother or a trusted female friend teach you how to use tampons. Change tampons every 4 to 8 hours.

Be Aware of Mood Swings

You can feel really moody right before you get your period. This is caused by hormones. You might feel:

Luckily, feeling moody should go away once you start your period.

Accept Changes in Your Body

Try to be comfortable with your body changing. If you are stressed about changes, talk to your parents or a provider that you trust. Avoid dieting to prevent normal weight gain during puberty. Dieting is really unhealthy when you are growing.

When to Call the Doctor

Talk to your provider if you have:

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. Concerns girls have about puberty. Healthychildren.org Web site. Updated November 21, 2015. www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/puberty/Pages/Concerns-Girls-Have-About-Puberty.aspx. Accessed January 18, 2017.

Garibaldi LR, Chemaitilly W. Physiology of puberty. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 561.

Rosenfield RL, Cooke DW, Radovick S. Puberty and its disorders in the female. In: Sperling MA, ed. Pediatric Endocrinology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 15.


Review Date: 12/9/2016
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
 
A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.