Puberty for Girls

Life can be surprising, but puberty doesn’t have to be -- though it is different for everyone. Put simply, puberty is the process of growing from childhood into young adulthood. Here’s what you can expect.

  • Puberty can start anytime between ages 8 and 13. The first sign for girls is that their breasts start to develop.
  • Underarm and pubic hair starts to grow, and hair gets thicker on arms and legs.
  • Growth spurts occur and weight gain can occur, particularly in the hips and thighs. Girls can grow 2 to 10 inches and add 15 to 55 pounds to their weight.
  • The first period (menarche) happens around two years after breasts begin to develop. 
  • The first period may be light or heavy, and typically lasts between two and seven days. 
  • The average menstrual cycle, or number of days between periods, is 28 days. Cycles can range between 21 and 45 days and still be normal. It can take six years or more for the cycle to become regular. 

Important things to remember during this time:

  • Hygiene and self-care become more important. You may need to shower every day or two, wash your face twice a day and wear deodorant. Many girls start shaving their legs.
  • Be patient with weight gain because you are growing, but do maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • About one in five girls experience a one-sided lower abdominal pain 14 days prior to their period. Called “Mittelschmerz,” this pain is caused by the release of an egg from an ovary – called ovulation. It can last a few minutes or a few hours – or even a day or two – and is treated with over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • It’s normal to worry about getting your period at an inconvenient time or place. The early flow is usually light, allowing time to find a bathroom. It is a good idea to carry sanitary pads in school backpacks or purses.
  • It’s a good idea to keep track of the dates your periods occur, so you can see what’s normal for you – and notice any changes.