Puberty for girls

Puberty is when your body grows and develops to become an adult. It might affect you in different ways. Find out what to expect.

What happens during puberty

Puberty is a series of changes that your body goes through as you grow.

Your body starts to produce hormones which will change your body and can also affect your emotions. Getting used to all the changes can sometimes be stressful.

For girls, puberty usually happens between the ages of 8 and 14. 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's anything wrong with you.

8 things you'll experience:

  • your breasts and hips will get bigger
  • you'll grow taller
  • pubic hair will start to grow
  • you'll start having periods
  • sexual thoughts and feelings
  • you might get spots and start to sweat more
  • the hair on your legs might get darker and some girls grow hair on their upper lip too
  • you might feel more irritable and moody than usual - this is because of changes in your hormones.

What to expect during puberty

You'll go through lots of changes during puberty - some obvious to other people and some obvious only to you. The changes might feel strange but puberty is a natural part of growing up.

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Changes to your breasts

Breasts come in all shapes and sizes and they’re all normal. 

Facts about breasts:

  • Having one breast which is bigger than the other is normal.
  • It's normal for breasts to feel sore or tender sometimes. This usually happens just before or during your period.
  • Breasts can feel heavier or softer before a period.
  • 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 hairs.

You can start wearing a bra whenever you want to. When 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 and a sports bra can give more support when you’re exercising.

when to visit your doctor:

  • if you often feel sharp pains or an ache in your breast
  • if you notice a lump on your breast or anything that doesn't seem usual.

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.


Masturbation is when you touch your body and your genitals because it feels good or pleasurable. People of any gender can masturbate and it's completely natural.

Whether you masturbate is your choice. People usually masturbate when they’re on their own, but sometimes they’ll do it with their partner. It’s not okay to masturbate in public.

If you’re worried about masturbation, it can help to remember:

  • Whether you do it is your choice
  • Some people masturbate lots, and some don’t want to at all. There’s no right or wrong amount.
  • There’s no ‘right’ way to masturbate
  • It can take time to work out what feels good for you, but that’s okay.
  • People masturbate at different ages
  • There’s no set age that people have to start. Choosing to masturbate is a choice that only you can make.

If you want to know more – check out the information on our facts about puberty page.