Body changes in the tween and teen years
Puberty is the time in life when your body changes from child to adult. When puberty hits, wild and wacky things happen both physically and emotionally, and it’s important for you and your daughter to understand that these changes are completely normal.
Changes will likely include:
- Body odor. Whew! One of the very first things tweens and teens notice is that their body starts to smell – a lot. And that’s normal. Encourage your teen to be proud of her natural scent, but to shower and use lots of deodorant so everyone around her breathes easier.
- Sweat. Teen girls sweat – a lot. And that’s normal. Chemical changes in your daughter’s teenage body turn on the sweat glands. New emotions, physical activity, rapid growth and stress can also cause her to sweat. Antiperspirant deodorants can help, and if sweating is really intense, come see us at Eugene Pediatric Associates for prescription-strength antiperspirant.
- Breasts. Breast buds first appear between 7 to 13 years of age, often just on one side, and often accompanied by mild pain. Breast development is often but not always the very first sign of puberty. Breast growth continues throughout the pubertal years, and into adulthood when childbearing, breastfeeding and maturation may continue to change a woman’s breast appearance. Most women have breasts that are not perfectly symmetrical, and it is perfectly normal to have hair growth around the nipples.
- Hair growth. Pubic hair often begins to appear between 7 to 14 years of age, followed a year or two later by armpit hair. Hair on the arms and legs often becomes dense. Girls who choose to shave should use disposable razors that they can discard at least weekly to avoid bacterial infection of the hair follicles.
- Menstrual cycles. The first period occurs at age 12 ½ years, on average, in the U.S. But the age of puberty is creeping ever younger, so girls who start to show signs of pubertal development, such as breast budding or dark pubic hair, should be ready for their monthly cycle starting in about 1 to 2 years later.
- Growth. Girls shoot up in height by about 3.5 inches per year during their pubertal growth spurt. Head, hands and feet grow first, followed by arms and legs, and finally torso. Remind your daughter that weight gain during this time of rapid growth is normal, healthy and must occur if she is going to grow taller, get breasts or start her period.
- Behavioral changes. Hormones flowing in your daughter’s body may lead to some of the following behavior changes: masturbating, thinking a lot about sex, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), moodiness and clumsiness. Encourage her to get extra sleep, and encourage her to watch her caffeine and salt intake to decrease the symptoms of PMS.