We all know that puberty is in the future for our young daughters, but it can set in sooner than many of us want to admit. Because puberty can set in unexpectedly, it’s crucial that children be informed as to what’s ahead and what to expect as their bodies begin changing. Our clinics are dedicated to helping women understand their bodies and maintain their health through all stages of life. This guide can be helpful to those preparing to help a young girl transition into womanhood.
What Should I Expect During Puberty?
Puberty is a time of significant physical, emotional, and even psychological changes as our bodies prepare for adulthood. While it’s a complicated subject, we’re going to stick to presenting the significant physical changes that can be expected during this period of transition.
- Development of the Breasts – Puberty begins around age 8, though it can occur as late as 15. The first sign that this process is beginning is often the development of breast buds. These buds form as bumps approximately the size of the nickel under the nipple. Their growth is often accompanied by soreness or tenderness. They may develop unevenly, and in fact, most women have one breast that’s a different size than the other.
- Shaving – This period of life also introduces additional hair growth, and many young girls are interested in shaving. This is purely a cosmetic choice and has no effect on their overall health otherwise. Be sure to show them how to shave correctly, and support them in the event they opt not to.
- Vaginal Discharge – A white or clear discharge may begin appearing for young girls in the six months to a year before their first period. This indicates that estrogen is building within their body, and is one of the signs of the onset of menstruation.
- Menstruation – Those going through puberty will often begin menstruating within three years of their breast buds developing. Their first period may involve bright red blood or may be brown and spotty. Neither of these is abnormal. They’ll also likely be irregular for the first few years before settling into a steady cycle.
Questions You Can Ask Your Practitioner About Physical Development
It’s essential that those beginning to go through puberty learn to be comfortable speaking to their physician about their changing body. This foundation of trust will help them as they grow older and begin to move through life. The following are some excellent questions they may want to ask:
- Are young girls starting puberty at younger ages? This question is still up for debate, and research continues. What is known is that, compared to 150 years ago, women are beginning to go through puberty at younger ages. The last 40 years show that it may be strictly due to the increase in nutrition that happened at that time.
- Is Gaining Weight A Normal Part of Puberty? The body is growing in multiple ways throughout puberty. This includes growing quickly, the development of breasts, and the broadening of the hips caused by the deposit of fat. Weight gain is a normal part of going through puberty, so ask your physician if you have concerns.
- When Should I Receive My First Pelvic Exam? Pelvic exams are generally unnecessary until a woman reaches the age of 21.
If you have additional things you’d like to know about your child’s physical development, reach out to our clinic to speak to our practitioners. You can come in alone or bring your daughter for the discussion, and we’ll happily talk with your daughter privately so she can ask questions she may be embarrassed about. Don’t wait to begin educating your child on puberty; being prepared helps make it an exciting time of their lives.