Lots of girls and guys worry about when their bodies will develop.
Guys wonder when their voices will get deeper, when they'll need to
shave, or when their penises will grow. Girls want to know when their
breasts will develop or when they'll get their first period. If a
friend or a younger brother or sister develops first, they may worry
that there's something wrong with them.
The fact is that physical development starts at different times
and progresses at different rates in different people. So, the beginning
of the development that comes with puberty varies from person to
person - and that's completely normal.
The earliest physical change of puberty for girls is usually breast
development, which most often begins around 10 or 11 years. But
it can start as early as 8 or as late as 13 and still be in the
normal range. The first menstrual period usually occurs about 2
years after breast development begins. Boys begin their development
on average around age 11 or 12, but it can begin as early as 10
and as late as 15. Girls and guys who start developing earlier or
later than these ranges can still be normal, but they should be
checked by their doctor just to be sure.
For both boys and girls, it usually takes several years after the
first changes of puberty begin before they're all complete - and
there's a lot of variation from person to person. So, two normally
developing guys or girls who are the same age can appear quite different
from each other. One can look older and more physically mature than
the other. But the one who started later will catch up in time.
Can I Do Anything to Speed Up Development?
You can't do anything to make your body develop faster. Of course,
you should eat a nutritious diet, exercise, and get enough sleep.
But special diets, dietary supplements, or creams won't do anything
to make normal puberty happen quicker.
But some unhealthy things can interfere with development. Steroids,
like those used for bodybuilding, can shrink testicles (and lead
to breast development) in guys and shrink breasts, disrupt menstrual
cycles, and cause excessive hair growth in girls. (Steroids can
cause other serious health problems, too.) Girls who have eating
disorders or who exercise compulsively may delay their development
and hurt their health. A number of medical conditions can also delay
puberty and development.
If you're a girl who's 13 or older or a boy who's 15 or older and
you haven't shown any signs of puberty (or if you're younger but
are still worried), talk with your doctor. Most of the time everything
is just fine, but the doctor can determine if there's a problem.
And if there is a problem, there's almost always treatment available
that will help you develop.