What Are the Physical Changes That Take Place in Girls During Puberty?

By Rebekah Richards
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During puberty, hormonal changes in a girl's body cause physical changes such as breast development and acne. Most girls reach puberty between the ages of 8 and 13, although some girls reach puberty at 6 or 7 years of age, according to GirlsHealth.gov, a website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Talking to your kids about puberty helps them know what to expect.

Breast Development

Breast development, which usually occurs between 7 and 13 years of age, is often one of the earliest signs of puberty in girls. Breast development typically begins with breast buds, or small lumps under the nipple. It's normal for breasts to feel itchy, achy or tender during puberty, according to GirlsHealth.gov. It's also normal for breasts to be different sizes. Wearing a bra can help girls feel more comfortable.

Body Hair

Girls also develop body hair in the pubic area, under their arms and on their legs as they go through puberty. New body hair is usually light at first and gradually becomes darker and thicker. Girls typically begin developing pubic hair between the ages of 8 and 14, according to HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some girls develop pubic hair before they develop breasts or other physical signs of puberty.

Menarche

Girls begin menstruating during puberty, which means they are able to become pregnant and have children. During menstruation, the lining of the uterus drains out of the vagina. Most girls have their first period between ages 8 to 16, according to GirlsHealth.gov, especially around the age of 11 or 12. However, many girls don't have regular periods for a few years.

Other Physical Changes

Girls usually grow much faster during puberty and gain weight, especially around their breasts, hips and thighs. Growing quickly causes some girls to develop stretch marks, but these usually fade with time, according to GirlsHealth.gov. Girls also often develop acne because hormones cause the glands in the skin to produce extra oil. Acne can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medication.

Supporting Your Daughter

Talk to your daughter about the physical changes she can expect during puberty. Girls need practical information such as how to be prepared for their first period or how to find a bra that fits, according to KidsHealth.org. Answer any questions your daughter has honestly and openly, and be reassuring if she's worried she's developing too early or too late or has concerns about her appearance. If you can't answer all of your daughter's questions or if she doesn't feel comfortable asking you questions, arrange for her to talk privately with a doctor, older sibling or relative.

About the Author

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.