Puberty is a chain of events in which physical changes occur. These physical changes are primarily governed by changes in hormonal levels that are produced by the pituitary gland. In females, these include luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The levels of LH and FSH stimulate the production of estrogen which causes physical changes such as maturation of breasts, ovaries, uterus, vagina, growth of pubic and underarm hair and starting of menstrual cycle.
Normally, these changes are subsequent. However, when the changes begin and how quickly they occur vary from person to person. Genetics also has a role to play in this regard. For girls puberty begins at 8.5 to 10 years and lasts about 4 years. You might need to visit a gynecologist in karachi if your daughter shows signs of puberty before 7 or does not show any sign by 13. Or if your girl has not had her period 5 years after her breasts started to grow.
What to Expect?
Here is what most girls go through when they hit puberty.
Major physical changes girls can expect as they go through puberty are:
This is usually the earliest sign of puberty when breast buds (nickel sized bumps under the nipple) start developing. Some soreness or tenderness during this period in the breast buds is considered normal.
Body Hair and Body Odor
Coarser and darker hair begin to grow in the genital area, in underarms and on the legs. In some cases, pubic hair may be the first sign of puberty. Due to hormonal changes, sweating under the armpits and increased body odor are also considered normal.
Due to increased estrogen levels, some girls may experience a little to moderate amount of clear or white vaginal discharge. This can happen 6 to 12 months prior to their first period.
Most girls get their first period within 2 to 3 years after breast budding. Initially, periods may be irregular, then settle down as the body adapts to the physiological changes. Abdominal cramping or painful periods are also common but if cramps are severe, it’s best to visit Dr. Nazifa Mubashir and talk about the probable reasons and ways to manage it.
Increase in height
The growth spurt in girls starts earlier as compared to boys. The fastest rate of height growth in girls usually occurs between the phases of breast budding and about 6 months before periods. After having periods, the growth starts to slow down and most girls only grow another 1-2 inches.
In girls, hips get wider and waist may get smaller. This is due to the rising amounts of estrogen that causes fat to deposit in hips and breasts. Also there is an increment in overall fat percentage of the body.
Some young girls develop acne during puberty. This is related to changes in hormonal levels, which make their skin produce more oil and sweat.
The emotional changes of puberty can be challenging for both the kids and parents. You child may
- Be very focused on the way they look and dress
- Care a lot about what their peers think about them
- Have mood swings
- Want more privacy
- Focus more on their friends rather than family
- Show less affection towards parents
- Feel more peer pressure
- Feel uncertain or confused
- Get sexual feelings
How to Manage These Changes?
As children go through the hormonal changes caused by puberty, parents need to support them and help them feel better by making them understand that it happens to everyone. Talking to your child about how they feel and guiding them is the key. They might seem like they know everything but you talking to them about this change matters. It’s a tricky phase for parents as well, because puberty can be a time when things like anxiety, depression and eating disorders show up. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and help them find ways to tackle them. They are most vulnerable at this time and need all the help and guidance they can get from their parents. It’s best to prepare them mentally before puberty hits, by discussing the physical and emotional changes they will go through while growing up and becoming adults.