By: Dr. Neha Suri – Pediatrician and Girlologist (What is that…? Click to learn more!)
Blog #1 in the Puberty Periodicals series: Puberty 101
AH Puberty – that special time of a girl’s life. Body hair, body odor, zits, boobies and periods.. need I say more??
Puberty is the time of a girl’s life when her body starts to become more adult like (cue the squirms and giggles!). Hormones estrogen and progesterone (which live in our brains and were sleeping up until this time) wake up, travel to certain parts of our body and cause changes. Puberty in girls can start anywhere from 8-11 years of age, and can take 4-5 years to complete. It can occur at different times for each girl, but YES INDEED – it happens TO EVERY GIRL!
The first body part to change in puberty are hands and feet (have you noticed yourself rapidly outgrowing shoe sizes recently?).
Next, many girls will start to develop breast tissue, or tender, pea sized lumps behind each nipple. It can be common to develop a small lump behind one nipple only. This is not alarming, and this is actually quite normal! Over the course of the next 3-5 years, breast tissue will continue to grow, and girls can wear bras to help support their growing breasts.
The next step is private area hair growth. A small percentage of girls will often start puberty with hair growth “down there” – and this is also normal! These hairs, when they start to grow, will be darker and thicker than the fine baby hairs previously present in the private area, and eventually over the course of the next 3-4 years, they start to not only grow in number, but curl as well.
While your body works through these changes, other things are happening as well: body hair is growing in more places than your private areas (such as your face, armpits, lower back, arms and legs); your sweat is becoming stronger and stinkier (enter Ms. Deoderant!); zits aka pimples are starting to form on your face (hello facial routines); and best of all — you grow TALL!
The last step of puberty is… (applause please) .. GETTING YOUR PERIOD. Your period is when you have bloody discharge that comes out of your vagina (a female private area part), lasts anywhere from 3-7 days, and occurs every month. A girl’s period can happen anywhere from 9 to 15 years of age, but generally will occur after breasts and private area area have developed a bit, and the girl has gone through a growth spurt. To control and catch the flow, girls can wear pads or tampons.
As you can see, there are SO many changes that come with puberty. Not only does our body change, but our brain changes as well. This means stronger emotions, wider mood swings, changing feelings towards other girls/boys/friends and sometimes uncertainty or hesitancy towards our own bodies.
Puberty can seem daunting and intimating, but also can feel lonely at times. Here are three things we want you to keep in mind:
Puberty is normal and natural, and it is a HEALTHY change that happens to our body – so celebrate it!
It happens at different times for everyone, BUT it happens to everyone!
The more informed and positive we remain about puberty, the more excited and confident you will be when your time arrives.
As a result, if you have more questions about puberty and all that it entails, make sure you go to a trusted adult, like your parent (not a sibling, cousin or a friend) – because we want you to get the right information in the right context!
Keep an eye out for more about puberty in our Puberty Periodicals series. Please also check out our super fun puberty classes called Something New About You – hosted in person by our very own Potomac Pediatric Girlologists. We hope you found this helpful. Stay tuned for more!