Puberty Breast Development: All Things You Need To Know About It
As we grow older, transitioning from childhood to adulthood brings about a lot of gradual and sudden bodily changes, almost as much as when you were an infant growing to a toddler.
In girls, the most noticeable change during puberty is the development of breasts. This usually occurs before a young lady’s first period.
How does this happen, exactly, and what are the things you should know about breast development? Keep reading to find out!
1. What Is a Breast Bud?
During the onset of development of breast in puberty, a small bump called a breast bud develops under the areolar area beneath the nipples. The areola is the dark patch of skin surrounding the nipples.
The development of a breast bud marks the start of breast enlargement and development.
2. Puberty Breast Development Stages
The development of breast in girls typically start during puberty and occur gradually in a series of five stages. The time frame for each specific stage is not fixed, but the whole process from stage one to five can generally last up to four or five years.
Here are the five stages of breast development during puberty.
The preadolescent or prepubertal stage is when the tip of the nipple or papilla start getting raised from the chest wall. No breast tissues form yet, and the breasts are still flat, although the nipple is raised. The areola is also small.
Depending on your genes, this stage can start at an early age of eight years or as late as 13 years old.
The breast budding stage is when buds appear, the areolar area expands and turns darker in color, and the nipple continues to rise along with the breast itself. Small lumps of fat tissues and milk ducts start to develop under the nipples.
The area of the nipples may look puffy, and the breast may be seen as a small mound. Tenderness or pain, when touched, is experienced by girls during this stage.
The third stage is marked by a continued growth of the breast in size, with glandular breast tissues also developing. Fat tissues also continue to be deposited. The breast bud also grows in size and becomes softer.
The breasts may seem a bit pointy or appear conical in shape. There is no separation of contours or projection of the nipples, yet. The areolas also still continue to darken and get puffier.
The projection of the areola and nipples to form a second mound above the actual breast signifying the separation of contours indicate that the fourth stage has started. The areola may also blend together with the nipple.
Due to accompanying hormonal changes, breast tissues continue to grow and develop. Fats proceed to be deposited, and milk ducts further develop.
This is also usually the stage when girls start menstruation or medically known as menarche when the ovaries start producing another vital hormone for breast development: progesterone.
Progesterone signals the formation of milk glands at the tips of the milk ducts. This does not always cause the enlargement of the breasts but is still very important for milk production.
This stage could last for a year or so and is usually the time when girls need different bras.
After a period of varying lengths ranging from 3 to 5 years and even up to 10 years in some cases, the final stage is reached, when the breasts are matured and fully developed.
The breasts look fuller and more rounded in shape with protruding nipples. The areolae may have receded, leading the nipples to extend above the breast’s contour.
Although the breasts are already matured at this point, their maximum size and fullness are only achieved during pregnancy. This is when hormones act to prepare for lactation.
Hormones activated during puberty also influence the mammary glands. The final major change that a woman’s breast will undergo is the shrinkage or involution of the milk ducts. This usually begins at around the age of 35.
3. At What Age Do Girls Start To Develop Breasts?
Puberty breast development usually starts at the age of 9 to 11 (According to breastcancercare.org.uk) or 8 to 13, but a few years earlier or later are still considered normal.
Note that not every girl’s experience will match this timeline and this is nothing to worry about. The experience and period can vary greatly due to some factors.
However, if you are highly concerned about a condition regarding your breasts, do consult a doctor for your own peace of mind.
Also, girls that start to develop breasts at a younger age will not necessarily have bigger breasts than those who develop later. The rate of puberty breast growth can also be widely different.
Although some girls normally develop breasts very late, the absence of any signs of stage 1 can be a reason to have one checked by a doctor.
Other cases that require a doctor’s consultation is when your breasts keep growing well after the normal development time. This may be indicative of serious conditions like gigantomastia or juvenile macromastia.
4. Is It Normal For One Breast To Start Growing Before The Other?
Yes, it is completely normal for one breast to start growing first or develop more quickly than the other. Usually, the sizes of the breast become more even as a girl gets older, around the age of 20.
However, it is still normal for breasts to be of slightly different sizes even when they are already fully developed.
5. How Long After You Get Breast Buds Do You Get Your Period?
According to Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a clinical psychologist, author, and expert in children and teen-related issues, adolescent girls often undergo breast development as the first signs of puberty, before her first period starts.
The time in between these two development milestones, however, is undeterminable and is unique to every person. Some girls even get their period first before breast development starts, simply because our bodies develop at different paces.
According to breastcancercare.org.uk, breast development is characterized by hormonal changes. These changes cause your breasts to be sore or tender just before your period begins.
Breasts are undoubtedly a huge part of the lives of women. Therefore, it is important for us to be conscious and knowledgeable about the changes they undergo and the conditions that are potential subjects of concern or worry.
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