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Puberty Changes in Girls


Stefano Lunardi/

Puberty happens to every girl at some point or another. For girls, it usually starts between the ages of 7 and 13. It can last anywhere from a year to 6 years. Everyone experiences puberty differently, but at one point or another, each girl will go through the same events.

Growth Spurts

Girls grow as much as 3.5 inches a year, often starting with the feet first. Arms, legs, hands, and feet grow before the torso, but everything evens out by the end of puberty. Rapid changes in height and weight may mean going through different sizes of shoes and clothes in a year. A certain amount of weight gain is necessary during this time to develop in a healthy way.

Breasts and Hips

Breasts begin to grow and develop. They may be sore or tender as breast enlarges with increase in fat deposits in the breast tissue. Growth normally starts around the nipple, which may seem swollen at first. This will go away as the breast finishes developing. Once the breast is fully developed, the nipple will appear darker.

In addition, a girl’s hips will broaden. As a result, the waist may seem little smaller.

Pubic Hair

Girls start seeing hair around the opening of their vagina. It spreads upward in an upside-down V shape. Pubic hair is mostly darker, curlier, and rougher than other body hair.

Hair on Legs and Underarms

Although most people have hair on their legs, during puberty it will become darker and coarser. Density of hair increase under the arms and is usually darker. At the same time, the sweat glands under the arms develop. For many girls, this is a time when deodorant becomes a necessity.


During puberty, oil and sweat glands get more active. Those glands can get clogged, leading to acne breakouts on the face, chest, and back. Gentle washing twice daily will often take care of breakouts. Also, it’s good to wash face after exercise or any activity that cause excessive sweating.

Menstrual Period

At some point during puberty, girls will get their first menstrual period. This usually happens soon after breast development, although different girls get their first period at different times. A typical period consists of two or three days of heavy blood flow followed by three to four days of lighter flow, but again, each girl is different.

Periods can be accompanied by cramps in the lower back and abdomen caused by an increase in hormones. These cramps can usually be treated with an over-the-counter (OTC) pain killer or a heating pad. If cramps are too severe to be treated with OIC pain treatment, a doctor should be consulted.

Other symptoms associated with menstrual periods include mood swings (usually before the start of a period), tiredness, upset stomach, and bloating. Usually these symptoms go away after the period begins. Exercise and a healthy, well-balanced diet go a long way toward easing mood swings and making a girl feel confident in her body. However, in some cases mood swings can be extreme enough that a professional’s help may be needed.

Psychological Considerations

Puberty can be a stressful time for any girl. Hormonal and physical changes may make her self-conscious of her body. If she begins puberty earlier or later than most of her friends, she may be worried that something is wrong. Having an understanding of what is happening to her body during puberty can help a girl remain confident during the changes she is experiencing.

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