Puberty in girls is a transitional phase between childhood and adulthood. The average age of puberty is usually between 8 and 13 years, slightly earlier than that of boys.
How to recognize puberty in girls?
A number of changes occur during puberty. These include:
- Hair growth
- Metabolic changes
- Hormonal changes
These changes are due to the maturation of the central nervous system and the disappearance of the brake that inhibits the anterior hypothalamus. Hormones (estrogens) are then released that trigger a series of changes in the bodies of the girls.
Physically, hair grows on the labia majora and pubis, gradually extending to the groin. Axillary hair (especially in the armpits) usually appears after pubic hair.
This is usually followed by the development of sebaceous glands, which cause sebum secretion that may lead to acne.
The breasts begin to develop during this period, but do not acquire their final adult shape until 18 or 19 years of age. The girls will also see their pelvises widening and more fatty tissue depositing in their hips and thighs.
A few years before the first menstruation, the vulva changes: the labia majora become more prominent, the labia minora and clitoris become more developed. The uterus grows to its adult size approximately 4 to 5 years after the first menstruation.
Keep in mind that each girl follows her own development and that there is no set order. Growth, pubic hair, menstruation, and breast development are random and depend on many parameters that each girl cannot control.
Psychological changes during puberty in girls
Puberty can be very stressful for some girls. This transitional period can be difficult to manage because it cannot be controlled. An adolescent girl who does not yet consider herself an adult must, however, consider that she is no longer a child. The adolescent girl observes her body and sees how it changes, how it adapts, sometimes differently than she imagined. These changes are also the subject of comparisons with family and friends: “Why doesn’t my friend wear a bra already?”, “Why am I the first to get my period?”, “I’ve grown up again” or “Why am I the tallest in my class?”, etc.
Puberty is often an awkward age when your peers like to tease you. Girls may not take this inappropriate teasing well and may withdraw into themselves or become aggressive.
Other changes associated with puberty in girls
Puberty is also associated with big growth spurts. During this period a girl’s skeleton grows and her physical appearance changes. In addition, sweat glands develop, and sweating increases, resulting in a more or less strong and quite natural body odor.
Menstruation usually appears when the girl reaches a weight of approximately 100 pounds and is manifested by monthly periods. The onset of menstruation indicates that the young woman is capable of having offspring if she so desires. Her body will produce eggs each month until menopause.
Helping the child through puberty
It is important to anticipate puberty and talk about it with your child. Major upheavals are coming and she should be prepared for them.
Important points for parents to emphasize on:
- Every girl is unique
- Your unconditional love for her, even though she is no longer a child.
- Her confidence
- Her sexuality (protection against STDs, contraception, vaccines, etc.).
It is also important to respect the privacy of young teenagers, both physically and intellectually. In fact, hair and other physical changes often make adolescent girls much more secretive. In addition, they are just beginning to experience their first love relationships and do not always want to share these with their parents. It is important to respect their privacy, except in serious situations.
Puberty can be a difficult time for girls and their parents. However, good communication, caring, and mutual respect will be good tools to get through this important stage of life.