Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Female Puberty

Voting Rules
Vote 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!
Photo: Peas / via Flickr

  • 1
    93 VOTES

    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.
    93 votes
  • 2
    81 VOTES

    The Clitoris Grows

    You might think of the clitoris as the female version of the penis (or vice versa). Just like a boy's penis grows during puberty, girls' clitorises also grow. The change isn't as noticeable as it is with boys, but it's still significant.
    81 votes
  • 3
    88 VOTES

    Different Races Start Puberty at Different Ages

    On average, African American girls start puberty earliest, and Asian girls living in high-altitudes start the latest. Scientists do not believe these differences are due to genetics. Most likely, they are the result of differences in diet and average weight.
    88 votes
  • 4
    87 VOTES

    Menstruation Starts... And Might Stop

    It is normal for a girl to get her first period, and then go six months without getting another one. It can take several years for her menstrual cycle to get on a consistent schedule.
    87 votes
  • 5
    81 VOTES

    It Starts in Your Brain

    When your body is ready to start puberty, your brain releases a chemical called gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH then acts on your pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland right between your eyes. The pituitary gland produces two hormones, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which act on your sex organs. It's like a chain reaction of body changes!
    81 votes
  • 6
    92 VOTES

    Girls Are Starting Puberty Earlier and Earlier

    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.
    92 votes