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A Guide to Puberty and Menstrual Cycles

Puberty is the name for the time when your body goes through changes and you begin to go from being a child to an adult. Your hormone levels change and you develop breasts and start your menstrual periods. You grow taller all of a sudden. Puberty usually starts between 8 and 13 years of age. During puberty, the same basic things happen to every girl. But the time when these changes happen is different for every girl. These changes are normal and healthy and are all part of becoming a woman. They are something to celebrate!

The Stages of Puberty:

1. Ages 8-11
There are few outside signs of development; but inside, ovaries are enlarging and hormone production has started.

2. Ages 8-14 (usually 11-12)
Breast growth, Girls may grow considerable in height and weight. The first signs of pubic hair start out fine & straight.

3. Ages 9-15 (usually 12-13)
Breast growth continues, and pubic hair coarsens and becomes darker. A girl's vagina is enlarging and may begin to produce a clear or whitish discharge. Some girls get their first menstrual periods.

4. Ages 10-16 (usually13-14)
Pubic hair growth takes on a triangular, but doesn't quite cover the entire pubic area. Underarm hair may begin to appear. Ovulation (the release of egg cells) begins in some girls.

5. Ages 12-19 (usually 15)
The final stage of development, breast and pubic hair growth are complete, and your full height is usually attained at this point. Menstrual periods are established, and ovulation occurs monthly.

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