Budding flower to represent puberty in girls
(C) Love Matters | Rita Lino

Puberty in girls: what to expect

Most girls notice that their bodies start to change anywhere between the age of 9 and 16. Some girls start and end puberty earlier than others.

Your body will begin to change on the outside. At the start, you may experience a growth spurt, which means you grow taller in a short period of time.

During puberty, your breasts become bigger, as do your buttocks. Hair begins to grow under your arms and between your legs. Also, you may get spots or acne. All these changes are normal. The changes are triggered by hormones, diet, and hereditary factors including your ethnic background.

In general, puberty ends by the age of 17 or 18, by then your body has matured into an adult body.

Changes on the outside

Skin and spots
Hormones might make your skin produce more oil, known as sebum, that can block skin pores and hair follicles. In many girls, this causes bumps or spots on your skin, also known as acne.

If you get spots, use a skin cleanser to make your skin less greasy. Don’t use ordinary soap – it can dry your skin out. It will then make even more grease so you get even more spots.

Breasts start to develop and hair starts to grow
In most girls, breasts start growing first, followed by pubic hair, and hair in the armpits. Don’ t worry if you start growing hair before breasts. This is also normal.

During puberty, your breasts start growing. It can start when you’re as young as eight, but might not begin until you’re thirteen. 

You may notice that the inner lips around the entrance of your vagina, called the inner labia (labia minora), start to grow. They can grow larger than the outer lips, known as the outer labia (labia majora). And your hips, buttocks and thighs become rounder.

During puberty, hair grows on your outer labia – it’s soft at first but later it grows coarser. The colour of your outer labia may change and become slightly darker than the skin on your upper thighs. You may notice that your inner labia are larger than the outer labia.

Your inner lips may be smooth or wrinkly, thick or thin, shorter on one side than the other, darker along the edges. The inner labia can come in different colours, such as pink, brown, purplish, black, or two tones. All these differences are okay.

Hips widen
Around the age of 12, many girls have a growth spurt – in other words, they suddenly start growing more quickly. This happens in girls earlier than it does in boys. Often you get your first period after a growth spurt.

Sweating

During puberty, you’re likely to sweat more, especially under your arms. This means you might smell more because of the sweat. It’s perfectly normal and is caused by changes in your hormone levels. Just wash every day and wear clean clothes. If you like you can also use deodorant or antiperspirant. Other alternatives are talc powder (don’t use it on your vagina or breathe it in – it’s poisonous), body spray or perfume. If you can’t get a shower, you could use baby wipes to wipe under your arms and between your legs.

female puberty development
© Love Matters

Changes on the inside

Periods
At some time between the ages of nine and sixteen, your periods start. For most girls, this happens around the age of 12.

Laughing or crying
During puberty, you can feel really happy one moment and gloomy the next. You start thinking more about everything – about yourself and about the world.

Insecure
Because your body is changing a lot, you can feel insecure. Do I look nice? Do other people like me? You have to get used to your new body. Puberty can be pretty lonely because you can think you must be the only person who feels the way you do – but don’t worry, you’re not alone, it’s all part of it!

Do you look and feel different?
No two girls are the same. That means that some girls start their periods earlier than others. And no two girls’ bodies are the same. You might be taller than your friends or have smaller breasts – it’s nothing to worry about.

In love 
During puberty, you often start fantasising more about a particular person you really like. This might be a boy, but it could also be a girl. You really want this person to like you. You then get a strange, excited feeling inside you and when you see the person you might feel really nervous.

Thinking about sex
During puberty, you become curious about everything to do with sex. You think about it more often and you can get a feeling of excitement or arousal in your body. Many girls like reading about it, looking at pictures and talking about it with friends.

How do I know if I've started puberty?

  • 80 - 85 per cent of people first notice their breasts are starting to develop.
  • 15 - 20 per cent of people first notice their pubic hair is starting to grow

Starting your periods
Your periods can start anytime between the ages of nine and 16. When this happens, it shows you’re in the final stages of puberty – becoming physically and sexually mature.

At first, your periods may be irregular. They may not come every month (roughly 28 days), but more often (every three weeks) or less often (every six weeks). Don’t worry – this is normal. It can take up to three years for a woman’s period to become regular.

Remember that every woman’s menstrual cycle is different. To figure out how your own cycle works, jot down the first and last days of your period on a calendar for a few months.

Can I get pregnant if I’ve never had a period?
Yes. Since a girl or woman releases an egg 12–16 days before her period starts, it’s possible for you to get pregnant the first time you ovulate, before you’ve had your first period.

Late starting
What if your periods haven't started by the time you're 16? There could be many reasons why your periods are delayed. It could be because of diet, stress, exercise, or pregnancy. The best thing to do is contact your nearest health care professional to make sure everything is okay.

Did you learn something new?

Comments

Hi Amernat, your breast size, shape and even your body size is an issue of genes. There is little you can do to increase your breast size, what is likely to work is breast surgery. Adding weight may lead to some changes in you waist, you can consider talking to a nutritionist who will help you put a plan to remain health as you increase your weight. Check this out;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/breasts-top-five-facts

Hello Jane, the size and shape of your breast are determined by your genes. The size of ones breast can also increase or reduce when they add or reduce weight. To increase your weight naturally means to wait have nature take it course which may or may not give you the results you want. Have a look a look at the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/breasts 

Hi Shirleen, thank you for reaching out to us. Are you still undergoing puberty? If you are, this is perfectly normal. However, if there is excessive pain, a noticeable lump or a discharge of any form kindly see a medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis and advice on the way forward.

Love Matters
Mon, 11/23/2020 - 06:14 pm

Hi Jade, thank you for getting in touch and asking a great question. Different people develop differently and at different rates. Puberty in girls usually lasts till between the age of 16 and 18 so you still have time to experience these changes dear.

Hello Chinky, thank you for reaching out to us and we are so sorry you are going through a hard time, dear. Do not worry though, we are here for you. First and foremost, vaginas come in different shapes and sizes and the size of your labia has nothing to your virginity. Click here to learn more about the vagina and go through it with your boyfriend so that he too may understand the female anatomy.

It would also help to go through this article with him so that you are both able to understand the concept behind virginity: https://lovemattersafrica.com/making-love/virginity/busting-the-hymen-myth

We hope the information above helps and also, please note that according to Kenyan law, having sex before the age of 18 is considered a crime and is punishable under Kenyan law, therefore, if you are under the legal age, be conscious of your actions.

 

Hello Vicky, thank you for reaching out to us. Please explain to your girl friend that vaginas come in different shapes and sizes and that she has no reason to feel ashamed or embarraed over the size of her labia. Click here to learn more about the vagina and go through it with your girlfriend so that he too may understand the female anatomy.

It would also help to go through this article with him so that you are both able to understand the concept behind virginity: https://lovemattersafrica.com/making-love/virginity/busting-the-hymen-myth

We hope the information above helps and also, please note that according to Kenyan law, having sex before the age of 18 is considered a crime and is punishable under Kenyan law, therefore, if you are under the legal age, be conscious of your actions.

Clarix Ann
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:48 am
Am 17 yet I still don't have a big butt and wide hips I've tried different workouts but still doesn't work what will I do and all friends are curvy
Freddie
Mon, 01/04/2021 - 07:23 pm

Hello Clarix, thank you for getting in touch and we are so sorry you are going through a difficult time but it is important that you remember that being curvy is not all that is attractive or admirable in a young woman such as yourself and it is nothing to be insecure and or ashamed of. There's no such thing as a 'typical woman' – everyone's body looks a bit different. In this section we look at the things women have in common, like the changes that happen when a girl goes through puberty, and the personal care that a healthy body needs. Click here to find out more: https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body

Hi Angel, thank you for reaching out to us. Truth is, you are not down maturing and this growth can still occur. Also, we all have different bodies and it is best to love and embrace your body and body type instead of comparing it with other people's bodies. As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy. You are amazing just the way you are.

Hi Sophia, 

That white stuff is called Vaginal discharge and it is totally normal. On the other hand, it is important to know what type of white stuff you see. If the discharge is white, thick and lumpy, and doesn’t have a smell, it could be a sign of an infection. You may also notice that your genital area is itchy or sore. White, thick, strong-smelling discharge is usually associated with a yeast infection, which can also cause itching or irritation. Read this article to learn more: Is my vaginal discharge normal? If you have concerns, visit a doctor for tests and treatment. 

Hi Michu254, 

It is totally normal. It means your faculties are alert and alive! However, if you notice that you are unable to concentrate whenever you see girls to the point that you are completely distracted from work or what you were doing, this is not healthy. If this is the case, you may need to seek help. 

Hi Michu, 

It is totally normal. It means your faculties are alert and alive! However, if you notice that you are unable to concentrate whenever you see girls to the point that you are completely distracted from work or what you were doing, this is not healthy. If this is the case, you may need to seek help. 

Hayleen
Wed, 08/18/2021 - 05:58 am
Hi, I’m 14 and I’m really insecure about my body because I’m skinny, I had my period 2 years ago and I don’t know if my breasts are growing or not,I also don’t know if I had my big growth spurt, and my thighs are still so skinny, when do you think my body will grow? I’m sorry that was a lot but I just want to know lol..

Hi Hayleen, 

It is totally understandable why you would be worried. It could be that some of your friends and/or peers have what you really want and it is making you sad that you do not have it yet. This is a concern of many young girls. At 14 you are right into puberty and this means that your body is still going through many changes. It is hard to tell whether or when your body will grow into your desired size. Either way, you should not worry about this process because it is not something you can control. For now, focus on having fun and discovering things about yourself. 

Also, try to build your self-esteem even if you do not feel happy about your body. Remember that your body may or may not change and whatever the case, it is totally normal. You are not alone as well, many girls your age worry too. Some worry about acne on their faces, some worry that their breasts are too big, others don't feel beautiful, etc. Girls come in different shapes and sizes and all these are beautiful. Do not compare your growth with that of your peers. Yu are different and that what makes you unique. Read this article to learn more about puberty in girls: Puberty in girls: what to expect and this one What is body positivity?

Since you are still going through soo many changes, it is important that you talk to an adult you trust. This could be your parents, aunties, teachers, counselors. They have gone through these changes thus they will totally understand your concerns and advise you accordingly especially when you're feeling down. 

Also, visit Love Matters whenever you want to learn more about puberty or ask a question that you may have. Sending you body positivity all the way!

I’m 14 and my breasts are really really small but they kinda hurt and I have hair around them, there is also little lumps on my nipples, does that mean they’re growing now? And do you also think they will grow a lot this year?

Hello Janet, 

First, it is totally normal to have small breasts, at 14 or any age. We all come in different shapes and sizes and that's what makes you unique. In life, we learn to love what we cannot control, your breasts are perfect for you. Also, remember that you still have some time to grow so your breasts may grow bigger. Also, they may also have reached their final size. You won't know until you've finished growing. That's alright too. 

Second, hair on the breast is considered normal. If it bothers you, you can trim it with some scissors. 

Third, it's common and completely normal to have small, painless bumps on the areola (the areola is that darker area of skin around the nipple). These bumps do not indicate whether breasts are growing or not, they are just there as part of your breasts. In case the nipples are painful, swollen, cracked, and bleeding, changes shape, or some discharge come out of your nipples, talk to your parent or guardian. Insist on going to the hospital. 

Lazett
Fri, 08/20/2021 - 05:16 am
I’m 14 and my thighs and butt are flat/skinny and I’m getting really worried because I’m going into freshman year with a flat body, I have had my period multiple times already and I’m pretty sure I’m done growing height wise, I just want to know if you think my thighs/butt will get bigger this year or next year ?

Hi Lazett, 

At, 14 you are in puberty, and this is a time for amazing physical changes. Glad to hear that you already started your periods. Many adolescents your age worry too. It is totally normal to worry but do not let this stress you one bit. As you grow older, you will realize that we have very little control over some thighs and bodily changes are one of them, to a large extent. 

Your genes are among the things that will determine your growth and as you cannot control how you turn out. Your thighs and butt may or may not get bigger, either way, it is okay and totally normal. Other factors that affect your body shape are lifestyle, sex, and age. The lifestyle you can control to an extent but for age and sex effects you cannot. 

With regards to height, most teenagers will reach their adult height somewhere between the ages of 14 and 16. You still have some 2 to 3 years to see how that turns out. Whether you grow taller or not, it is totally fine. You will be fine. 

The best thing to do is to take some time with yourself, find hobbies, practice things that you love, and try to learn how to be happy with yourself. 

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