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As Your Body Turns: Puberty

As Your Body Turns:

What is puberty?
When does puberty start?
What happens during puberty?
What if I haven't started puberty yet?

What is puberty?
Puberty is the time of life when lots of changes are happening to your body. During puberty, you grow breasts, you develop hair under your armpits and around your genitals, and you get your first period. back to top

When does puberty start?
Puberty begins at different ages for different girls. Most girls start puberty between the ages of 9 and 14.

Many things can affect when you start puberty. Your family history, your health, and your eating habits might make a difference. For example, if your mom got her period at an early age, you probably will too. Girls who are sick or anorexic will probably get their periods much later than the average girl.

Not all girls develop the same way. There are lots of normal ways to progress through puberty. back to top

What happens during puberty?
Your sexual and reproductive organs are only partly developed when you are born. They finish developing at puberty. Here's what will happen:

  • First, pubic hair and underarm hair will appear.
  • Right after your pubic and underarm hair starts growing, your breasts will too. Your breasts will get a little bigger and will develop over a couple of years.
  • The rest of your body will start to grow. During childhood, you grew at a steady rate. During puberty, you grow a lot faster and you grow more. Most girls find that this growth spurt begins at age 11 and ends at 13 or 14. You might grow 3 inches or more in a single year! Once the growth spurt ends, you'll be almost as tall as your final adult height.
  • You get your first period. This will happen toward the end of puberty.

    You may notice that while you and your girlfriends are going through puberty, a lot of the boys in your class aren't yet. Don't worry—they'll catch up in a year or two. back to top

What if I haven't started puberty yet?
Most girls can't wait to start puberty. But a lot of girls feel weird if they don't get their periods or if their breasts don't start getting bigger around the same time as their friends. It happens at different times for different girls. It's completely normal to start puberty at age 14 or even older.

One or two percent of girls will not have started puberty by age 16. Most will begin puberty within the following year. But a few girls may have health problems that are delaying or preventing the start of puberty. If you're 16 and you haven't gotten your period, talk to your health professional. back to top

Last Modified Date: 3/28/2001
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