Puberty in Girls
Puberty can be defined as the physical changes that a child’s body undergoes when it matures into an adult that is capable of sexual reproduction. Puberty is the stage in the child’s life when the body experiences numerous changes as it develops the ability to produce babies. Puberty is caused by the changes in our body hormones. Puberty in girls is characterized by various bodily changes such as appearance of pimples and body hair, growth of breasts, and mood swings.
The onset of puberty varies from one individual to another. In girls, puberty typically starts between the ages 8 to 13 and ends by 14 years. One of the first signs of the onset of puberty in girls is that their breasts begin to grow. The beginning of menstruation normally happens two years after the breasts begin to grow. During this period, girls will observe a growth of hair in the underarms and pubic area. During puberty, girls also observe a spurt in growth and tend to become taller. This growth stops at the end of puberty.
Changes In The Shape of The Body
Some of the bodily changes that are observed during puberty in girls are listed below:
- Increase in Weight and Height: Girls gain about 17-18% of their adult height around 9 years on wards. Their limbs grow first and they grow the fastest within 6 months of the start of their periods. There is a weight gain associated with the increase in height. Their upper arms, upper back, and thighs gain fat and the hips and bottom become rounder. Their waists become narrower.
- Breast Development: Breasts start to develop by the age of 9 in girls. A very small bump begins to appear under the nipple. Some girls often experience a little tenderness in their breasts during their periods. Girls who feel a little awkward often start wearing training bras at this time.
- Increase In Hair: Girls will observe a growth of body hair in their underarms and around their vagina in the pubic area, and on their legs. At the beginning the hair is light but as girls progress through the stages of their puberty, the hair becomes darker and thicker.
- Beginning of The Menstrual Periods: The development of breasts in girls is followed by the beginning of the menstrual periods. In a majority of the girls, periods begin by the age of 12 or 13, though they may begin earlier or later depending on their body types. Periods typically last for 3 to 5 days and are associated with a flow of blood and tissue that forms the lining of the uterus. During periods, girls need to wear a sanitary napkin or tampon. Periods are often associated with cramps, back pain, and nausea.
- Acne: Puberty also marks the growth of oil and sweat producing glands. When these glands become clogged, pimple and acne start to appear on the face, upper back, and upper chest.
- Other Changes: Puberty is often associated with the appearance of stretch marks or scars in areas where the skin has pulled due to the spurt in growth. Girls also go through a lot of mood swings during puberty, especially before the start of their periods. They become irritable, sad, and have trouble sleeping. Luckily, these mood swings tend to disappear with the start of the menstrual cycle.
- “Pubertal transitions in health”, by George C Patton, et al. Published in Volume 369, Issue 9567 of the Lancet, accessed on 18 March 2015. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60366-3