Changes In Girls During Puberty

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

Girls undergo a lot of physical and emotional changes during puberty. Although these changes take place at different times and at different rates, puberty in girls usually occurs between the ages of 10 and 14. Here’s an explanation of what girls can expect when going through puberty.

Changes In Appearance

Girls undergo quite a bit of physical change during their years of puberty. These changes affect numerous areas of the body, including:

  • Breasts: A girl’s breasts will grow and become fuller in shape. One breast may grow faster than the other. Girls typically start wearing a bra when puberty begins.
  • Hips: The hips slowly get wider and rounder. Some girls will also gain weight on their hips.
  • Skin: Many girls develop acne on their face, the upper chest and/or the upper back. There are lots of products available over-the-counter to help treat acne, and most girls find that their acne largely disappears once puberty is over.
  • Height: A girl will grow quickly during this stage until she reaches her full height.
  • Weight: Girls also gain weight during puberty and develop an overall “curvier” body. However, excessive weight gain during this period is not healthy.

Girls who grow quickly may find that their breasts, legs or other areas of the body become sore or tender. This is temporary and will subside once they growing process has been completed.

Sexual Development

Every girl also goes through significant sexual development during puberty. The most recognizable part of this change is the beginning of menstruation, which signals that the girl’s ovaries are releasing eggs. This is when a girl has her first period. When reaching this stage of puberty, girls start using feminine hygiene products, such as sanitary pads or tampons, to manage her bleeding. In addition, it’s important that girls understand that once their period has started they can also get pregnant.

Once a girl has started her menstrual cycle, she may also experience the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These symptoms may include cramps, soreness or enlargement of the breasts, acne breakouts, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, food cravings or mood swings.

The less noticeable part of sexual development in girls going through puberty deals with the development of their sexual organs. A girl’s clitoris will grow along with the inner lips of the vulva becoming more prominent. During this time, girls may also notice that they are experiencing a white, mucous-like discharge from their vagina.

Hair Growth

Girls who are going through puberty can expect to see hair growing on different parts of their body as well. Fine hairs will begin to grow on the legs and arms, while coarser hairs will appear in the armpits (underarm hair) and around and above the vulva (pubic hair). The hair around the genitals usually starts out quite light and sparse, but over time it becomes longer, thicker, coarser and darker.

During this time, there is also an increase in the amount that a girl sweats. This results in a stronger smell coming from the underarms. Most girls begin to wear deodorant during puberty.

Emotional Changes

One way that puberty affects girls is that it creates emotional reactions. This is due to the increase in hormones and the way the body adjusts to those changes. Girls often find (or realize after the fact) that they have become more sensitive. This can involve getting upset or angry more easily than they used to.

Many girls also become more anxious about or critical of the way that they look during puberty. Girls may also become upset or anxious about starting puberty before or after most of their friends. It’s important that girls understand that everyone develops at a different rate and eventually everyone will catch up with one another. However, it a girl begins puberty before the age of 8 or after the age of 17, she should see a doctor to rule out any possible complications or health problems.

Quick and intense emotional changes are also common in girls going through puberty; they may easily switch from happiness and joy to sadness and gloom. They may also act more impulsively or not think through their actions and words before doing or saying them.

Girls also experience an increase in their sex drive during puberty. This can result in a crushes or the desire to have a significant other. They may experience sexual arousal and experiment with masturbation as a way to process those new feelings. Some girls will make impulsive decisions about sex based on these feelings, so it’s important for them to understand the consequences of becoming sexually active.

Bottom Line

Many girls feel confused about the changes in their body and their emotions that occur during puberty. It’s important to help young girls feel comfortable talking about their feelings and these changes. There are usually local resources which can provide additional support or education for girls who want to know more about what going through puberty will be like or how to deal with it.


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