Breasts and puberty

Puberty for girls is a confusing time of change. Not only are the hormones flooding your body affecting your emotions and ability to deal with various situations, but your body is also changing on a daily basis. You’re growing taller, your hips are widening, hair is sprouting in new places and your skin might be prone to spots and acne.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And we haven’t even discussed changes in your breasts yet…

The three main factors that determine the shape and size of your breasts moving into your adult life are the hormone levels in your body, your natural weight and your genes. Your breasts won’t begin to grow and develop until your ovaries start to secrete oestrogen.

Growing pains

During puberty, it’s very common to experience sore, painful breasts. You might also experience tingling feelings, itching, stabbing pains and a heightened sensitivity. This is all totally normal and will only last while your breasts are growing. Many girls never experience any of the above.

How long will it take?

Unfortunately this is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string’ questions as it all depends on the individual. Some girls will sport a good-sized chest before leaving primary school; others will blossom overnight as they hit their teens; some will be late developers and will finally sprout a bust in their late teens; yet others will grow at a steady rate right through until their mid-twenties. Again, it’s all perfectly normal.

Different shapes and sizes

Everybody is different, and this is so true when it comes to breast size. Sometimes it’s hard not to be envious of another girl if she has what you lack, whether you prefer larger breasts or a flatter chest. Try not to compare yourself unfavourably to your peers – your unique shape is part of what makes you you, and many other people will find you perfectly attractive when the time comes to start having relationships.

As your body becomes accustomed to monthly periods, you might well discover that your breasts change according to the time of the month, growing slightly larger, or feeling slightly sorer. This is common for most women and it takes a bit of getting used to for us all.

Despite what you might suspect from the airbrushed images you see in the media, very few women sport naturally perfect symmetrical breasts. Often one breast can grow bigger than another (just like feet), or the nipples may be uneven in size. If this is a real issue for you, consult your doctor to find out what your future options might be. Surgery is unlikely to be performed until you have completely finished growing and your doctor is convinced it is in your best interests.

Buying your first bra

This might be a daunting experience for you, or you might have been looking forward to it for a very long time. Once your breasts are developed enough to move independently of your body, it’s definitely time to invest in a bra or three.

Bra size is determined by two measurements:

For your first bra it’s advisable to attend a proper fitting carried out by a trained saleswoman at a lingerie shop or department in a department store. Try not to be embarrassed – this is part of her job and she will see many hundreds of breasts for this very reason on any given working week.

Once you have been measured, you can then experiment with different shapes and styles. Again the fitter will initially help with this, but the final decision on look and feel rests with you. It’s not uncommon for a fitter’s initial decision on your bra size to be changed when she sees you actually wearing the bras.

The most important thing to remember is to be comfortable. Certainly this is your opportunity to support a heavier chest or provide padding if it’s required, but above all make sure your bra fits properly, as poorly-fitting bras not only cause backache but they can look unsightly too.

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