Puberty is the time when your body changes from a kid to a young adult. This doesn’t happen all at once, but rather gradually over time. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more comfortable about the changes your body will go through.
Here at the Center for Women’s Health in Wichita, Kansas, OB/GYN Sharon Breit, MD, and our team of women’s health specialists are here to support teen girls and women. We can answer your questions about puberty and other related topics, and help you stay healthy.
What is puberty?
Puberty is a stage that all adolescent girls go through. It’s a healthy and normal part of growing up. Your body undergoes many changes during puberty, and your emotions may become stronger.
Instead of occurring all at once, puberty happens in stages over several years. Some signs of puberty may appear at a young age, while others may appear years later. Because everyone's bodies are different, puberty is different for everyone and happens at each person’s own pace.
While puberty is a natural part of growing up, it’s perfectly normal to feel excited, anxious, and even confused. Knowing what to expect can make puberty less stressful. Talking to your parents or other trusted adults can also help. All adults have gone through puberty.
When does puberty start?
Most adolescent girls start puberty between the ages of 8 and 13. It starts when a part of your brain releases chemicals that trigger changes that help the body mature.
What happens to my body during puberty?
You can expect to notice your body start to change when you start puberty. Some changes may be subtle, while others are more noticeable. When puberty starts, it’s common to experience:
- Hair growth (under arms, pubic area)
- Pimples on your face
- Body odor
- Your breasts growing
- Sweating more
You may also grow hair on your arms and legs.
What are periods?
As you go through puberty, you start having periods, which is the time during your menstrual cycle when vaginal bleeding occurs. This happens once a month and lasts a few days.
Every month, your womb lining thickens and your ovaries release an egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the tissue is shed through the vagina. The monthly process is known as menstruation.
When will I get my period?
Most girls get their first period and begin menstruating between the ages of 8 and 13, but it can happen at any age between 8 and 16. There’s no need to feel concerned if you start before or after this age. Remember that everyone is unique, so what is considered normal for your friends may not be the same for you.
You have periods until you're around 50 years old, when you enter the menopause. That’s when your body stops menstruating.
How long will my period last?
The average period lasts 4-5 days, but your period could last anywhere from 3-8 days. Your period is part of your menstrual cycle, which begins on the first day of bleeding and ends the day before your next period starts. The average cycle length is 28 days.
When should I start seeing an OB/GYN?
Many adolescent girls are unsure when they should begin seeing a gynecologist. Because the average age for starting menstruation is 12, we recommend that girls see a gynecologist as early as age 13.
The first appointment is an opportunity to build a relationship with your gynecologist. You can talk with Dr. Breit about puberty, hygiene, sexually transmitted infections, birth control, and mental health, among other things.
Dr. Breit may discuss the HPV vaccine, which protects against human papillomavirus, a virus that can cause cervical cancer.
Following your initial visit, Dr. Breit advises you on how frequently you should return.
Support for all phases of life
The journey into young adulthood is a time where you may have questions and concerns about your changing body. Our team is here for you every step of the way. Give us a call at our Wichita, Kansas, center and our knowledgeable staff will help you schedule a visit.
Telehealth appointments are available. Please call us to determine if your visit is eligible for a telemedicine appointment.