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Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Female Puberty

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List RulesVote up the puberty facts you were most surprised to learn.

What is puberty? Well, it's essentially the process of transitioning from a child body to an adult body. Girl puberty involves a complex process where hormones interact with each other and stimulate different organs and organ systems.

This list includes everything you need to know about female puberty. Even if you've already been through it, lots of these facts may surprise you. You may think you know basically what happens when girls go through puberty, but you probably don't know the how or the why. If you want to know more about the way a woman goes through puberty, keep reading!
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  • 1. Girls Are Starting Puberty Earlier and Earlier

    Photo: Afla / via Flickr
    At the beginning of the 20th century, the average age of menarche (a girl's first period) in America was between 16 and 17. Today, it's between 12 and 13. This change has been attributed to a significant increase in the number of overweight children, as well as exposure to phthalates, or man-made chemicals found in plastic, which interfere with the endocrine system.
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  • 2. Girls and Boys Produce the Same Hormones

    Even though girls and guys go through different changes during puberty, they have the same hormones going to work in their bodies. Everyone's brain produces GnRH, and everyone's pituitary produces FSH and LH. FSH and LH then stimulate the ovaries or testes to start producing estrogen and testosterone. Yes, that's right—guys and girls produce both hormones! Both are essential for puberty. The difference is that girls produce much more estrogen and much less testosterone.
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  • 3. Your Whole Body Grows

    Obviously, if you're going to develop breasts and round hips, you're going to need to deposit fat in those areas. During puberty, girls gain weight and get taller. Girls usually reach their adult height a few years earlier than boys, that's why there are those awkward years when girls are taller than their male classmates.
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  • 4. The Hymen Becomes More Elastic

    The hymen is a small piece of tissue that partly covers the opening of the vagina. During puberty, it becomes more elastic. Contrary to popular belief, the hymen is not supposed to break during sexual intercourse. When a woman becomes sexually aroused, the hymen stretches, and if it does tear, it heals quickly.
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