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Puberty

Puberty is when a child’s body begins to develop and change into an adult. During puberty, girls will experience a major growth spurt, develop breasts, and start their period, among other physical and emotional changes. These changes typically take place over a 2- to 3-year period. 

Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Adolescent Medicine and Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Causes & Risk Factors

Puberty is caused by hormones released by the ovaries at a certain age. These hormones trigger changes that take place in the way a girl’s body looks on the outside and how she feels on the inside.
 

What changes will I go through during puberty?

Changes you can expect during puberty include:

  • Breast development – oftenone of the first signs of puberty
  • Body hair – including pubic hair, hair on the legs, and under the arms; the hair starts out light and sparse and becomes darker, longer and thicker throughout puberty
  • Menstrual period starts – generally 2 to 2½ years after breast development begins
  • Oily skin and acne – on the face, upper chest and upper back
  • Body grows taller – at the end of puberty, you will likely be at your adult height; the feet, arms, legs and hands may grow faster than other areas
  • Curvier body shape – includingwider hips, a smaller waist, and increased body fat in the legs, stomach and buttocks
  • Weight gain
  • Increased perspiration/body odor
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Emotional and social changes – including stronger emotions than normal, a desire for more independence, more emphasis on peer acceptance, and more interest in male relationships
Contributor
Jennifer Kurkowski, WHNP