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Puberty for girls

Puberty is a series of changes that your body starts to go through in your early teens. These changes help you develop into a young woman. You start to produce hormones which will change your body and can also affect your emotions. It can be a difficult time getting used to everything.

Girl wearing pyjamasWhen girls start puberty

For girls puberty usually happens between the ages of 10 and 16. Some girls can start puberty earlier and some later. Everyone is different.

For some girls going through puberty can take a couple of years. For other girls it will take longer and be more like 4 years. This is normal and doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you.

During puberty girls start having periods. Find out more about periods.

When boys start puberty
Boys usually start puberty between the ages of 12 and 18. Find out more about what happens to boys during puberty

Talking about puberty

Sometimes you might have questions which you are too embarrassed to ask your teacher, parents or friends about. If you are worried or confused about anything, it will help to talk about it.

If you can't talk to someone you know, you can talk to us and we will support you. We hear from lots of people about all sorts of things. You could read our message board about puberty for girls to see what other girls are talking about. 

You can also get information and advice about periods.

What will happen during puberty?

You will go through lots of changes during puberty. Some changes are obvious to other people and some only you will know about.

Some things that will happen to you:

  • You will grow taller.
  • Your breasts and hips start to grow and your body will have more curves.
  • You will grow hair under your arms and between your legs.
  • The hair on your legs might get darker and some girls grow hair on their upper lip too.
  • You might get spots.
  • You might sweat more.
  • Your periods will start and you could experience premenstrual tension (PMT) in the week or days just before your period.
  • You might start feeling odd and moody during puberty - this is because your hormones are developing.
  • Your vagina changes and you will start to produce a clear or white liquid called discharge.
    • How can I get advice about periods?

      During puberty, girls start having periods. You might have lots of questions like what exactly are periods, how often they happen, what they look like and what to use when you have them. You can get lots of advice and information on our periods page.

    • Will I need to wear deodorant or antiperspirant?

      As you go through puberty you might find that you sweat more. This is because your sweat glands change and produce more sweat to help control your body's temperature.  It's important to wash often and wear clean clothes so that you don't smell. You can also wear deodorant or antiperspirant if you are worried about smelling.

    • When should I start wearing a bra?

      You can start wearing a bra whenever you want to. If you feel that you would be more comfortable wearing one, then it's the right time for you. It's important to get fitted for a bra in a department store or specialist bra shop so that you make sure you are wearing the right size.

    • What size should my breasts be?

      Bodies grow at different rates during puberty so although it's hard, try not to compare yourself with anyone else. The size and shape of your breasts will keep changing throughout your life. Lots of things can affect their size and shape like losing or gaining weight, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

      Five facts about breasts
      1. Breasts come in all shapes and sizes and they are all normal.
      2. It is normal to have one breast which is bigger than the other.
      3. Breasts can feel heavier or softer before a period.
      4. Breasts can keep developing until you’re 18. It’s also common for breasts to change in your adult years.
      5. Nipples come in different shapes and sizes. They can be outwards or inwards. The area around the nipple is called the areola and it’s normal for it to be a few shades darker than your breast. Sometimes nipples have bumps, pimples or small hairs.

    • I'm unhappy with my breasts. How can I feel better?

      We are all different and have different body types so our breasts will look different too. There is no specific size or shape that breasts should be but we often wish our breasts were different.

      It can be hard not to compare yourself to other people. It can also be difficult to always see women online and in movies or magazines with perfect looking breasts. The important thing to remember is that some of the women have had breast enlargements or plastic surgery. Most of these images are also airbrushed and changed to look a certain way. In real life, we are all unique. Find out how to feel better about how you look.

    • I have sore breasts. Is this normal?

      It is normal for breasts to feel sore or tender sometimes. This usually happens just before your period or during your period.

      Some important things to know:
      - If you feel sharp pains or an ache which happens often, it is important to see a doctor.
      - If you notice a lump or anything that doesn’t seem usual, it is important to talk to a doctor or nurse about this.
      - You can ask to see a female doctor or nurse and ask to have a family member or friend come to the appointment with you. Find out more about visiting your doctor.

    • What is discharge?

      When you start puberty, your vagina will start to produce a clear or white liquid – this is called discharge. It is completely normal and it is how your vagina keeps itself clean. If the discharge is yellow or smells, or if your private parts feel itchy, you should see your doctor. It’s important to see a doctor as you might have an infection.

      You will usually have thicker or more discharge just before your period. It might stain your underwear so you could wear panty liners if you want to. These can be bought in supermarkets and chemists – you’ll find them in the same section as sanitary pads and tampons. Find out more about sanitary products on our Periods page.

    • How can I remove hair on my body?

      When you go through puberty you will start to grow hair under your arms, on your private parts, on your legs and sometimes on other parts of your body.

      If you choose to remove some or all of this hair, it’s important to do it in a safe way.

      Things you could try:
      - Shaving with a clean razor and shaving foam or soap.
      - Waxing with hot, clean wax. This can be done at a beauty salon or at home using a waxing kit which you can buy from pharmacies and some supermarkets.
      - Applying hair removal cream and scraping it off with a special spatula. It can be dangerous to use hair removal cream on pubic hair or near your genital area.

      Make sure you read the instruction leaflet carefully before using any type of removal cream or home waxing kit.

      Whatever you choose to use, it is important to try it on a small section of skin first. This way you’ll be able to see if you have an allergic reaction.

    • Should I get rid of my pubic hair?

      It’s your body and it’s your decision to choose whether or not you want to remove your pubic hair. Everyone grows pubic hair, it’s a normal part of puberty.

      Some people choose to shave, wax or trim their pubic hair. This could be removing a little hair or all of the hair.

      Sometimes women trim or remove pubic hair if they go swimming so that the hairs don’t show through a swimming costume or bikini. You might see women online or in films with no pubic hair but this is not how everyone looks in real life.

      It’s important to do what feels right for you.

    • I'm having lots of sexual thoughts and feelings, is this normal?

      It's normal to have sexual thoughts and feelings, especially during puberty when your body is changing. It can be confusing and strange at first but this is normal. Your feelings should calm down after a while when your body adjusts to the changes. Read more on our pages about sex and relationships

    • What is masturbation?

      Masturbation is when you touch your body and your genitals because it feels good. You can make yourself orgasm or 'come' by doing it. Both girls and boys masturbate and it's completely normal. Masturbating is a natural part of finding out more about your body and what makes you feel good.

      Some people might say that it's wrong or that you shouldn't masturbate, but it's a normal part of life and not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of.

      How often you masturbate is up to you but it’s important to do this in a safe place where you feel comfortable. It’s not okay to masturbate in a public place.

      If you feel like you are masturbating very often and it is distracting you from homework, seeing friends and other activities, this could be a problem. You can get support if you think you need help or you could try to masturbate less so that you enjoy other things in life too.

      Remember that you can talk to us about how you’re feeling and you won’t be judged.

    Other sites that can help:

    Find out more about what happens to your body during puberty.
    Brook - girls and puberty

    Get more information about puberty and watch a video about growing up.
    NHS Live Well

    Find facts about puberty.
    BBC - Helping you get through life

    During puberty you might sweat more or find that your skin and hair gets oily. Find out how to keep yourself clean.
    Brook - keeping clean

    Puberty for girls message board

    Find out what other young people are saying about puberty on the ChildLine message board. You can read what others have said or sign up to post your own message.

    Message boards

    Sex and sexual health

    Having sex is a big decision and there are lots of things to think about. Speak to other young people about sex and sexual health on our message boards.

    Sex and Relationships message board

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