By Christin Hegreness, WHNP – – –

As you approach your teenage years, you may have many questions about what to expect as your body changes. What comes next? When will my period start? Why is my mood changing so often?

Most girls’ bodies start changing between 9 and 13 years old. The first sign of puberty is a change in breasts and nipples. As your nipples and breasts grow and change, they may be tender and a little painful. The size and shape of everyone’s breasts and nipples may vary quite a bit, and all are normal. Many girls have one breast that is a little larger than the other as well. This may be a time to start wearing a bra if needed. A sports bra may be most comfortable at first.

A few months after your breasts change, you may notice hair right above and on your vulva. This is pubic hair and will continue to increase over time.

About a year after pubic hair starts to appear, your first period will likely arrive. Prior to the arrival of your period, your vagina will start making a thin watery discharge. This can start several months before your actual period. If it is making your underwear uncomfortably wet, you can wear a thin pantiliner to help. Keeping a small pad in your backpack is a good idea in case you start your first period at school. It likely won’t be too heavy the first day. Usually, the second and third day are the heaviest, and each day gets lighter after that. Periods usually last from 4-7 days.

Some periods can have painful cramping, while others may not hurt at all. If your period is so painful that you can’t go to school or do your usual activities, see a doctor to make sure there are no problems. There are medications that can help your period be more manageable.

As these physical changes happen, hormone levels change as well. You may notice you feel very happy for a few days, and then unhappy for no reason at all. Discussing your moods with a trusted adult can help manage these changes. Just saying, “I don’t feel good today, and I’m not sure why” can help those around you understand and be supportive. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help your mood feel better as some minerals affect your mood quite a bit.

The boys your age are undergoing changes as well. You may notice their voices changing, facial hair, and growing taller. Their penises are also growing larger, and ejaculation is happening for the first time. Their hormones are also causing mood changes for them.

So many changes occur during puberty, and everyone changes at a different rate. Talking with your friends about their changes, as well as a trusted adult can help you feel okay about everything you might be going through and the amazing woman you are becoming.


Christin Hegreness is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner with a passion for helping educate women about their bodies. She lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 3 children. She loves weightlifting, triathlons, and trying new foods.