Girls: Physical changes during puberty

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Girl lying on a bed
Most girls start puberty between ages 8-13, but the average age is 11. However, there's lots of variation and all girls mature at different rates - so if your daughter is starting puberty before or after her friends, don't be be worried.

Girls tend to start puberty earlier than boys and they reach full maturity within 4 years. See your doctor if your daughter starts puberty before she's 8, has shown no signs or puberty by the time she's 14 or hasn't started her periods by the time she's 16.

The Tanner stages of puberty for girls are:

Stage one: This is the stage before puberty really starts, and girls usually reach it when they're 8-10. Their height starts to increase by as much as 5-6cm per year, their nipples may swell slightly and their ovaries start to grow.
Stage two: The area around the nipple starts to swell, pubic hair starts to develop along the labia and the clitoris becomes larger. They'll still be getting taller - growing up to 7-8cm per year. Girls usually reach this stage when they're around 11.
Stage three: The breasts continue to swell and now might be a good time to buy your daughter her first bra. Pubic hair becomes coarser and curlier and underarm hair starts to grow. They're growing at the fastest rate now - up to 8cm per year. Girls usually reach this stage when they're over 12.
Stage four: The breasts start to develop into a more adult shape and girls get their first period around this time. By the end of stage four they'll be having regular periods. Although they are still getting taller, the rate they're growing at has slowed down and is now about 7cm per year. This stage usually occurs when they're around 13-years-old.
Stage five: At around 14-and-a-half years, the breasts have fully developed and pubic hair spreads to the inner thighs. Now girls have fully-developed genitals. They stop getting taller at around 16 - and are then physically mature.

Continued below...

Other physical changes

  • During puberty, fat is deposited onto the hips, breasts and thighs - giving girls a more womanly figure
  • Her face lengthens and changes shape
  • She starts to sweat more
  • Her skin will become more oily, meaning she's more prone to spots and acne
  • Period pains can also cause problems

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