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Body Changes in Women

Puberty – it's a crazy time. Your body's changing, and so is everything else. But, what is causing all these changes? 
You know how everyone says that puberty is all about raging hormones? It's kind of true. Hormones that were hibernating suddenly awaken and signal your body to enter puberty. You might think this doesn't mean a lot, but hormones cause the changes that are associated with puberty.

Timing of Puberty

Puberty starts at different times and lasts for different periods of time for everyone. It can start as early as 8 years of age to as late as 13 years of age. The sequence of puberty – from breast development to complete physical maturation – may take a year and a half or last as long as 6 years.

This is sometimes very difficult for girls as some of their peers may have entered and completed puberty before they have even started. However, there is no way to slow or speed up the process, but puberty happens to everyone, so never fear, it will happen to you!
You may have heard that girls mature more quickly than guys, and that is somewhat true, since girls usually enter puberty about 2 years earlier than boys.

Below is a general time line for physical changes that occur during puberty (for girls):

Puberty Event


Age at which it happens

Growth of breasts



Growth of pubic hair



Body Growth


9 1/2-14 1/2

First Period


10-16 1/2

Underarm Hair


2 years after pubic hair shows up



Around the same time as underarm hair

Remember, puberty is not the same for everyone, so some girls will grow pubic hair before they develop breasts, and that is absolutely normal. 

Physical Change

Breasts: Breast development begins between 8 years of age and 13 years of age and continues through puberty.  Breast development starts with the flat area around the nipple (areola) becoming enlarged and some breast tissue forms under the nipple. When breast development is complete, each breast is distinct and the areola no longer appears swollen. 

Breast size varies from woman to woman, and there is no way to try to make your breasts larger or smaller other than going through plastic surgery, which is not always a very safe or healthy alternative. 

Pubic Hair: Pubic hair starts along the vaginal lips, the outer opening of your private parts. The hair becomes darker and coarser and grows like an inverted triangle. Sometimes, the hair spreads to the insides of thighs, as well.

Growing: Puberty also causes you to go through a growth spurt, which results in an average growth of about 3.5 inches a year. Your head, hands, and feet are the first things to grow. Then you grow in your arms and legs, and finally your torso and shoulders catch up with the rest of your body.

If it's any consolation, everyone goes through that awkward phase, so you are not alone! Height growth is, of course, accompanied by an increase in weight. This weight gain is perfectly normal and a part of puberty. Without gaining this weight, you cannot grow taller, develop breasts, or get your first period.