Female Puberty - The Signs, Stages and Changes


Female Puberty - The Signs, Stages and Changes

Okay so there are a few things that we all want to know when it comes to our bodies and how they change, but let’s face it, the conversations can get a little awkward. Which is where the Internet comes in! We hope you all have someone that you can trust to talk about this stuff with, and maybe even read this article with, but no matter what we want you to have all the information you need to navigate these tricky years. Trust us, we’ve all been there or are going there so we really are all in this together. It might make you feel giggly and that’s great! Stick it out and you might learn something new, something that reassures you or something to share with a friend who needs to hear it. Let’s get started.

What is Puberty?

We thought we’d dive right into the awkwardness. Puberty is a developmental stage- a whole series of physical, mental, emotional and sexual changes that take you from childhood into adulthood. It begins when hormones (the body’s chemical messengers) send signals to your brain from your gonads i.e. ovaries or testes. These signals create a cascade of transformation in your brain and body.

How Long Does Puberty Last?

Are you hoping it will be over soon? I mean, at some point everyone does! Puberty usually last 2 to 5 years . 

What Age Do Girls Typically Start Going Through Puberty?

On average, girls generally begin puberty between 10 and 11 years old and complete it between the ages of 15 to 17. In comparison, boys begin slightly later, between 11 and 12, and complete it between 16 and 17.

It’s important to remember that there is a range and puberty can begin as early as 8 years old or not until you’re 14. Your body can change and develop at a different rate than your friends or even siblings. If you have any questions or concerns, it’s worth consulting a pediatrician about very early or late onset. 

What are the Signs of Puberty in Girls?

There are five Tanner stages of puberty, charted by Professor James M. Tanner ,a child development expert . These stages are primarily concerned with the visible changes involved in puberty. Again, we can’t emphasize enough that this is your own personal journey and it won’t look or feel exactly like anyone else’s. These stages are guidelines only and chart the general progression of puberty. If you don’t fall precisely within this timeline that’s simply because you are perfectly, wonderfully, uniquely you and no one tells you what to do!

Female Puberty Stage 1: Hormone Production

Age- beginning after your 8th birthday

If you’re thinking 8 years old is a bit young to be considered the beginning of puberty it might be because at this stage all development is internal and there are likely no outer signs of what’s about to happen. Inside, however, your brain is busy at work sending signals to your hormone producing glands to get ready because they’re about to rock & roll. 

Female Puberty Stage 2: Breast Development and Body Hair Growth

Age – 9-11 years old

This is the time in life where you’re most likely to notice that something is going on. It will probably start with your boobs, where breast “buds” will begin developing. These are small bumps that grow under your nipple and may feel tender, even itchy. It’s totally normal for one to begin growing before the other, and for them to grow at different rates. 

Next up is pubic hair. At first pubic hair tends to grow in sparsely and be quite fine but over time it will become coarser and curlier and cover your entire pubic area. 

Female Puberty Stage 3: Growth Spurt

Age – 12 years and older

In stage three, the signs from stage two are still progressing (your breast buds and pubic hair continue to grow) and a few significant new players arrive on the scene. You’re going to be experiencing your most significant growth spurt during this time, at about 3.2 inches per year. This is also when you’ll notice armpit hair beginning to grow and possibly experience some acne. Acne sometimes results from the increased oil production that can also make your hair appear greasier. On top of this, your sweat glands are getting larger as well, making now a great time to re-evaluate your hygiene and self care practices in anticipation of your next big life event.

Female Puberty Stage 4: Expect Your First Period!

Age – around 13 years old

If you’re wondering when to expect to get your first period on the development cycle, that time is now. Of course, 13 is the average age and it’s possible to get it before or after, anywhere from 9 to 15 . The official term for your first period is menarche (pronounced men ar kee) and you can personally expect it between two and three years after the development of breast buds

What are the signs and symptoms of a first period?

After breast buds, pubic hair, and underarm hair often comes a final symptom of your upcoming period: vaginal discharge. This is a clear or white liquid which is secreted from your vagina and keeps it healthy. You may begin noticing vaginal discharge a few months before you bleed for the first time and that’s completely normal. If you find it uncomfortable you can opt to wear a Barely There® or LightDays® Plus liner to keep you feeling dry.

What’s the expected color of the blood?

You might be expecting your first period blood to be bright red, which it could be, but it can also look light brown. 

Your first few months, up to two years, with a period may be slightly irregular: generally speaking periods occur every 21-35 days but can take some time to even out. During this time it’s helpful to keep some pads in your backpack, gym bag, and locker as well as your bathroom so that you’ve got all bases covered (plus, you never know which of your friends will need emergency backup). U by Kotex® Teen® Pads are specially sized for your body to provide optimal comfort. At night, you’ll want to choose something with a bit more coverage, especially if you move around a lot. Teen® Ultra-Thin Pads Overnight Protection have you covered, or try the Allnighter® Pad with a 60% larger back if you’re feeling a little nervous. 

Female Puberty Stage 5: The Final Phase

Age – around 15 years old

In the final stage of puberty, your body begins to take on more of its adult shape. Approximately two years after your first period, you’ll have reached your full height and your cycle should become regular. If you’re tired of being surprised by that time of month you can use the Period Calculator to figure out when to expect it. You may have noticed that your hips, thighs and bum have started filling out.

We’ve been focusing here on what to expect physically as you grow, but we haven’t forgotten everything else that’s going on. As important as it is to know when you might get your first period, it’s just as essential to understand that the hormones that give rise to your menstrual cycle also impact your mood and frame of mind. Plus, there’s a lot of social pressure too: will you want to wear a bra, makeup, deodorant, and shave or do none of these things? We’re here to remind you that we like you just as you are so if you want to experiment, go for it! If you choose not to, more power to you! After all, period or not, YOU can!

Kimberly-Clark makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.