Changes in Girls During Puberty

It�s hard to talk to your daughter about her body and the changes it goes through during puberty if you�re not sure just what those changes are. To help you through it, here is a primer on the stages of puberty in girls.

The Basics
Between the ages of 8 and 14, most girls are starting puberty. Puberty will continue for two to three years. One of the first physical changes that will take place is breast development. Known as "breast buds," small, firm (and sometimes sensitive) lumps will begin to appear underneath your daughter�s nipples. Overtime, the tissue will lose its firmness as it becomes larger. It takes about five years for breasts to reach their full adult size. While breast development in girls is usually the first sign of puberty, for a small minority, the presence of pubic hair will signal the start of a girl�s puberty process.

Body hair initially appears around the pubic area, specifically the labia majora. As it first begins to grow, the hair is usually quite fine and light. As your daughter continues through the puberty stages, this hair will come in thicker, darker, longer and curlier and begin to cover more of her pubic area. It will also begin to grow under her arms. Her leg hair may also become thicker, so don�t be surprised if she asks you to show her how to shave her legs.

As your daughter progresses further into puberty, she will begin to experience a growth spurt. Not only will she become taller but she will also begin to put on weight, giving her the curvier figure of a woman. While this growth will start off slow, shortly before her period it will speed up. As she gets closer to having her first period, she will put on more weight, particularly in the abdominal and hip area.

About a year or two after the first appearance of the breast buds, your daughter will get her first period. Girls often like to view menstruation as a sign that they are now a woman. However, your daughter will likely only be about 12 years old when she gets her first period; while her body may say she�s a woman, her mind may still be ways off.

Once menstruation has begun, her growth will begin to slow down. She may put on a bit more weight but she will be close to her full adult height. Generally, she can expect to grow one to two inches more before she�s done puberty, although some girls may grow as much as three to four inches taller after menstruation begins.

Your daughter may also start to notice that her face seems oilier and that she has started getting pimples. You may notice that she may have a stronger body odor than before. This is all a common part of puberty, although your daughter is unlikely to care for it very much. Help her get into a routine of cleaning her face and washing daily as well as wearing deodorant and these minor problems should clear up.

Girls vs. Boys
Usually, most girls going through puberty do so at an earlier age than boys. As a result, girls often find themselves looking and acting a bit more mature than their male peers, at least for a few years. However, just because your daughter is no longer physically growing, do not assume that she has gone through puberty.

A girl�s puberty stages may begin with the physical changes, which generally end around the age of 15, but the emotional changes can continue on for a few more years. It is perfectly normal (albeit not always fun to put up with) for the emotional rollercoaster of puberty and raging hormones to continue on throughout the teen years and even into the early 20s. Just remember: you got through the terrible-twos and you can get through this.

Early Puberty
Although girls hitting puberty usually do so at a seemingly young age, some may start as young as eight years old. And very early puberty in girls can be problematic. If your daughter seems to be developing breasts, pubic hair or starts her period before the age of seven, you should make an appointment with her doctor.

Early puberty, also known as precocious puberty, can lead to developmental problems as well as emotional embarrassment at being so different from one�s peers. With a proper diagnosis, precocious puberty can be halted until your daughter is older and her body is actually ready for puberty to begin.

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