Puberty is a huge part of growing and one of the most crucial stages in our life both physically and emotionally. We talked before about teen mental health, but this time we want to focus on the sexual and physical changes during puberty for females. We're discussing things from what are the first signs of puberty in a girl and how the body changes during puberty to hormonal changes and the menstrual cycle.
Note: These are common changes that happen, but every teenager and body is different. However, if you feel like something unusual is happening and you're worried or you want to understand more about it, it is always recommend to see a doctor to check up.
What are the first signs of puberty?
With the change in hormones, sexual and physical changes start happening to the body, including includes changes in sexual organs and physical growth inside the body and outside of course. Puberty can start in girls between ages 8 to 13, but there doesn't have to be clear signs or outside visible changes in the beginning. Hormone levels start to change first.
One of the first apparent changes are the breasts. They start to develop and become bigger. The nipples also change or more actually the areola gets bigger, which the dark or pigmented skin around the nipple. Also it is normal for both breast to grow at different rates and look different at first. They could also feel sensitive and tender. The process of puberty as a whole can take from 18 months to 5 years to be completed.
Body hair starts increasing in areas around the body especially pubic hair and under arm hair. Pubic hair usually starts soft and light and then starts getting darker, thicker and takes up more space. Hair can also be seen or increases in other areas, like the thighs, legs and stomach.
The body shape
The body could start to get curvier with the breasts and hips getting bigger and the waist may even look smaller. Also other areas like the face, hands start changing and growing. The girls will also start to get taller and might even feel pain in arms and legs.
The vulva changes and grows. The labia might get bigger and change in color. Also because of the increase in the levels of estrogen in the body, the vagina can start to release either a clear or white discharge. However, make sure to check with a doctor fi there's an unusual smell, pain or irritation.
Usually between the ages of 10 to 16 and for some girls after almost 2 and half years from when the breasts started developing, the menstrual period starts. They can be irregular at first but if you're worried or they're something unusual, it is always better to check with a doctor. Periods usually last from 5 to 7 days. Pain or cramps and headaches are possible as well.
Acne and skin
Glands start getting more active during puberty which affects the skin and sweat. They can start to produce more oil which is why acne and pimples are common during puberty, on the face and even back, chest and shoulders. However, acne and pimples should lessen or go away after teen years. Body odor can also increase during puberty because of the development and activity of a new sweat gland.
Weight and physical strength
It is normal for there to be weight gain and an increase in muscle strength and size during puberty. The increase in levels of estrogen causes more fat in the body, including the the hips and breasts of course. Also, the stomach gets bigger and the intestines increase in size, so the body starts needing more proteins, minerals and energy. The body needs things like calcium and iron for blood circulation and the bones. It is normal for weight gain to happen and can be healthy or necessary because the body is changing and adapting. However, as always it is important to incorporate healthy food and physical activity in the lifestyle.