YOUTH

Puberty is inevitable, but every girl has a unique experience and handles it in her own way. You can help make it a positive experience by helping your daughter know what to expect and reassuring her that some of the weirdness is actually normal!

To help her (and you) know what’s coming, here’s a brief overview of “the order of things”

  • Feet and hands grow first.
  • Breast buds are next for about 85% of girls.
  • Remember that one side usually buds first as a hard, sometimes tender, knot under the areola. The other side will bud within a short time usually, but sometimes it takes up to 6 months.
  • Shortly after breasts bud (a sign of circulating estrogen), she will begin to have vaginal discharge (also estrogen-driven).
  • Vaginal discharge has an acidic pH that can cause irritation of the surrounding vulvar skin. A mini pad or a skin barrier cream like zinc oxide or a diaper rash ointment can help. Once she has “hair down there” the irritation usually disappears because the hair helps pull the discharge away from the sensitive skin (it IS there for a reason!)
  • Pubic hair is second for most girls, but first for about 15%.
  • Once she’s sprouting pubic hair, you may also notice acne (and the body odor will probably precede both!).
  • The biggest, most rapid growth spurt follows.
  • About 6 months after she has grown the fastest (sometimes 2-3 inches in a matter of months), she will start her period.
  • Once the period begins, most of her growth is finished, but she will continue to grow in her trunk and there may still be some lengthening in her legs.
  • Her growth slows down significantly after her period starts, but most girls will continue to grow at least 1-2 inches over the next few years. Some grow as much as 3 inches more.
  • Help her remember and accept that her growth will occur both up and out, and that getting new curves is the norm!
  • Breast development is not finished until around age 17 or 18 for most girls.

 

And don’t forget that through ALL this time, your daughter’s brain is rearranging connections, establishing new patterns of thinking, experiencing more intense emotions, and developing more mature reasoning & decision-making skills. That means the adolescent years are a critical time for establishing good habits, communication skills, and impulse control. None of those come naturally, but they require guidance and practice.

Got more puberty questions? Ask them here!

Tags: 
girls puberty, puberty, breast development, periods, vaginal discharge, pubic hair, body odor

Comments (67)

  • anon

    Hey! This really helped me. I thought I had breast cancer. I was very worried until I went on here and saw the post about "breast buds". I was so relieved! I told my mom about this site and now all my friends use it, too. Thank you so much.

    Mar 06, 2016
  • anon

    That's actually very funny.

    Jul 31, 2017
  • anon

    Hey! We're so glad you found helpful information here (and that you're feeling relieved!). We're also really happy you're sharing our site with your mom and with other friends. You are SO welcome!

    Mar 09, 2016
  • anon

    I'm 15 and no signs of puberty, not even hair! Should I be worried?

    Aug 01, 2016
  • anon

    If you're 15 and haven't had any breast development or other signs of puberty, it would be important to check in with your doctor who will probably want to talk with you, examine you, and do some tests to help figure out why. Your doctor can also help figure out how to help you.

    Aug 04, 2016
  • anon

    Don't be worried some times it happens later for others

    Dec 05, 2016
  • anon

    No. You should worry

    Dec 11, 2016
  • anon

    Samantha, chill. She should not worry! Puberty hits people at different times.

    Jul 19, 2017
  • anon

    I agree with you Sammantha.

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    Yesterday my daughter came to me & asked about the lumps under her nipples (breast buds). She is only 9!!! She has a small frame & I was not prepared for that yet. Is 9 normal? I was 14 when it started for me.

    Aug 24, 2016
  • anon

    HI Jenny, Believe it or not, it's normal for breast development to start as early as 7 or as late as 12. To learn more about normal breast development, this blog may help: https://www.girlology.com/what-expect-when-your-breasts-bud If you have concerns about early puberty, there's this: https://www.girlology.com/early-puberty-girls-7-new-11 Hope these are helpful!

    Aug 25, 2016
  • anon

    Yes Jenny it's normal, it depends on the body. You see some girls start at a very early age some start and a very late age. There is nothing to worry about just stay calm. But remember to talk to your daughter about the changes in your body that will occur, if she doesn't know when the time comes she might start to get nervous or upset about it . So when you think she's ready be on her side and always help her when she isaw upset about the ways she looks or feels. Hopefully this helps, Thanks

    Jan 19, 2017
  • anon

    Yeah! I know my daughter had breast buds in 4th grade now she is 12 and wow she's about to get her period!

    Jan 20, 2017
  • anon

    It's actually pretty normal! I have a 9-yr old friend, and she has them too, though not that big.

    Mar 08, 2017
  • anon

    There is some sort of crusty gunk in my underwear, so is that a vaginal discharge? It is not creamy in the least, but slightly sticky.

    Sep 05, 2016
  • anon

    Sounds like discharge! It starts of creamy or sticky, but when it dried in your underwear, it is usually crusty. Gunk is a descriptive word :) For more information about vaginal discharge, you can read this: https://www.girlology.com/how-much-discharge-normal

    Sep 29, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you!!! I told my mom about it, and now I'm wearing pantyliners, they help a lot.

    Oct 27, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for this awesome website!

    Oct 27, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for such detailed information. My 8 year old is in her way through the list and this will help us both know what to expect! (Love the detail on the paste!)

    Sep 26, 2016
  • anon

    My daughter is nine and breast buds started about a year ago, her breasts have started to develop more and are very sore, she also has pubic hair. I'm not worried about the changes and we've had a chat about periods, and she seems fine with this in theory. I'm expecting her periods to start in the next few months and my concern is her height, whilst she's tall for her age, if her growth stops is she destined to be short? She's 4ft 7in now, as she's only just turned 9, would she continue to grow taller?

    Sep 27, 2016
  • anon

    Great question. Mostly likely, she still has some growing to do before her periods start. Then, most girls will continue to grow at least 1-3 inches after their periods begin. If at 9 years of age, your daughter has significant breast growth and pubic hair that covers her mons, she may be nearing menarche (the first period). Keep in mind that a significant increase in height also happens just before that. If you are concerned that her period is imminent and worried about her final height, it would be best to check in with her pediatrician or a pediatric endocrinologist who can look at her development and determine whether further evaluation is needed. There are tests that can be done to look at her bone development and provide more informed guidance about whether to intervene with her natural development for the sake of her adult height.

    Sep 29, 2016
  • anon

    I'm almost 14 and got my period a few months ago. I'm quite short, a little more than 5ft and would it slow down breast development as well as height?

    Oct 01, 2016
  • anon

    Although starting your period is a sign that your growth will slow down a bit, you will still gain some height and your breasts still have some growing to do. For most girls, breast development isn't finished until they are around 17 or so.

    Oct 06, 2016
  • anon

    Thanks this really helps

    Nov 03, 2016
  • anon

    What about the hormonal side and resultant behavior. Happy, sad, depressed, lack of patience, being defiant & rebellious, etc. Is there anything natural you can give your daughter to get through the hormonal stage?

    Nov 18, 2016
  • anon

    I am SO happy I came across this site!! My daughter is 9 and she's tall and has hair on her arms and legs and her mons... and has leaped beyond breast buds and is becoming quite the little lady right before my eyes! It's terrifying and overwhelming to Me, so I can only imagine how it must be for HER! She's been especially sensitive lately and I've forgotten that this is a sign that she's That much closer to what is apparently called "menarche," her first period. I haven't been sensitive to that but now I can better understand some of her new emotions!! I had been mostly overwhelmed simply because I haven't known where to start and how much was too much and if my talk with her that I keep planning to have will be too little or not enough. *ahh!* It's scary but thank you SO much for this book and this website and what you gals do here. It's SO appreciated! #girlpower

    Dec 10, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you so much! This website really helped! I was scared i had breast cancer or something!my friends and I all worry about this so i will be sure to show them this website, thanks for all your help!

    Dec 15, 2016
  • anon

    My daughter started getting B.O. at age 6. She started developing breast about 6 months ago. I'm worried she is to young for this. We have also been having trouble with her making connections with learning things, such as reading. Should I be worried? Could there be a link? Should I have her checked by a Dr?

    Dec 27, 2016
  • anon

    Hi Marissa, You didn't mention how old your daughter is now, so if she is still 6 or 7 and having breast development, it is early. Even if she is older and her breast development is normal (8 and up is normal), you should definitely check in with your doctor if you are concerned about changes in her learning abilities. There are many things that can affect that, and her doctor would be the best to discuss it with you and evaluate her.

    Dec 27, 2016
  • anon

    I'm 11 and I have breast buds, I've been discharging, and have pubic hair. I haven't found the right way to tell my mom that these things are happening to my body. How could I tell her without being so obvious?

    Feb 17, 2017
  • anon

    Try this, "Mom, what age were you when you started puberty? Well, I think your little girl is growing up!" You really want to tell your mom because she can get you panty liners for the vaginal discharge.

    Feb 23, 2017
  • anon

    There isn't really a subtle way. Just ask to speak to your mom in private, and just let her know that you have been experiencing some changes with your body and that you want to talk to her about it. She will probably be asking a tone of uncomfortable questions, but be honest about what is happening to you so she and you both can get any information that you need.

    Feb 24, 2017
  • anon

    I have a smelly, fishy, brownish-gold gunk in my underwear. I have to wear pantiliners just for it. Is this vaginal discharge? Or should I talk to my doctor?

    Feb 22, 2017
  • anon

    Your discharge should be white to yellow, but it can turn brown if it's around a period. It can also have an odor, but it should not be a bad odor. The only way to find out for sure if it's normal or not, is to see your doctor.

    Feb 26, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, my daughter has had all the signs of puberty for over a year now. Full on pubic hair. Complete breast development. Acne. And the growth spurt. She is 5'7''. She is 12 and 1/2. My older daughter was less developed and had her period just before age 11. I'm worried that something is wrong that she hasn't had her period. Should I be? The only thing she doesn't have is hair under her arms.

    Feb 25, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Maria, If your daughter has had all of those signs for that long, it would be a good idea to check in with her doctor. She may be very close to starting and your doctor may recommend a little longer observation, or may want to do some testing. Most girls will start menstruating about 6 months after their fastest growth spurt, so a lot of it has to do with her growth chart (which her doctor can review with you). If there is concern that she should have started her period already, an evaluation of her reproductive tract (to look for a normal uterus and vagina) and some other general health testing would be important (thyroid, prolactin, hormonal tests). If you have a pediatric gynecologist in your area, they are very good at evaluating delayed puberty and providing reassurance or the proper evaluation and treatment if more is needed. Best of luck!

    Feb 26, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter is nearly 12 1/2 and has nothing at all in the way of hair or breast buds and no period. She is 4ft 6 and small for her age and i worried that she may have a hormone development problem as her father and his brother both had to have injections for growth deficiency

    Mar 20, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Debbie, You definitely should be discussing this with your daughter's doctor or the endocrinologist that cared for your son.

    Mar 23, 2017
  • anon

    Wow, I have 2 daughters who are now teenagers who went through all the stages at roughly the same age as me and now my third daughter started about 6 months ago at 8 so of coarse I was caught off guard since I didn't start the stages until Grade 7. I read this and now know how to explain it to my 9 year old, where I didn't have to explain it to my teen daughters because most of their friends were going through or finished the stages. Thank you so much!!! I'll be showing Sarah this when she gets home from grade 4 today.

    Mar 20, 2017
  • anon

    Glad you found us! Hope it helps her!

    Mar 23, 2017
  • anon

    This was helpful. My daughter is 7 1/2 and I notices that she seems to be developing breast buds. I know it's early, kinda worried. I talked to her about what's next for her and she seems uncomfortable about getting breast or even talking about wearing a bra in the future. Any advice?

    Mar 22, 2017
  • anon

    Since your daughter is on the very young end of what can be considered normal, it's always a good idea to check in with her doctor. Many pediatric endocrinologists are still treating early puberty in order to achieve greater adult height. It's a decision you'll need to make with your doctor, but it doesn't hurt to check in to make sure all is well.

    Mar 23, 2017
  • anon

    What does it mean if you develop pubic hair before breasts

    Mar 23, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter is 5'4" and weighs 96 pounds, meaning she is a little underweight. She has breasts that are small but definitely beyond breast buds. and has to wear a bra and pantiliner. And she has pubic and armpit hair, but a smaller amount of it in the under arms, a good amount down there. She recently had a large growth spurt, and she notices her hips have gotten slightly wider. She is concerned that she is underdeveloped as all the other girls in her (grade 8) class have started menstruation and she has not. When do you think that her period will start? Should I talk to her doctor?

    Mar 28, 2017
  • anon

    Hi there. That's the magic question everyone has, and there's no absolute answer. What I can tell you is that your daughter sounds like she is having normal progress through the stages of puberty, and that menstruation should be soon. As we mention in the article, most girls start their period within 6 months of their fastest growth spurt. The mystery is to know when their growth spurt is slowing down, and that's hard to identify unless you are measuring her height changes regularly. Remember that it's normal for girls to start their period as late as age 16 or so. Your daughter sounds quite petite, and that plays a role in the timing, too, with thin girls sometimes being later than their peers.

    Mar 31, 2017
  • anon

    This is kinda of embarrassing but I have some creamy white stuff in my private part I just wanted to know what should I do or what is caused by this. Last time I told my mom and I went to go to the doctor they said I was fine or something like that it was a long time ago and either my mom or the doctor said it was from the toilet paper

    Apr 10, 2017
  • anon

    Hi, sounds like vaginal discharge - which is normal. Read this for more information: https://www.girlology.com/how-much-discharge-normal

    Apr 10, 2017
  • anon

    my daughter is 13 and her breasts haven't started developing not even buds, she has hair down there and discharge, very little armpit hair. She tells me she's getting bullied for not having boobs even her closest friends join in. Should I be worried? I have asked this question on many sites but had no luck :(

    Apr 17, 2017
  • anon

    HI, in general, if there are no breast buds by 13, you should check in with her doctor who can look at the family history and your daughter's growth chart, do a physical exam, possibly some lab work, and determine whether there is any cause for concern. Vaginal discharge is actually a sign of estrogen circulating which is what also causes the breasts to bud, so if she has discharge, she will likely have breast buds soon, too. Regardless, it's important to discuss with her doctor who will provide much better assessment and information than any website can.

    Apr 30, 2017
  • anon

    My daughter is 9 and told me today that she has had pubic hair for a while and she does have quite a bit yet she had not shown any signs of breast growth/buds, why is it that this is happening in this order versus the breast buds first?

    Apr 26, 2017

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