When will my breasts start to grow?
I have written you four times and with no response. I am a fourteen-year-old female and I am as flat as a board. I would appreciate it if you would tell me the average age for first periods and boob growth rate. Is there anything I can do to help with my small boob size and no period? I could live with that, but I want boobs. I am pretty, but as flat as a board.
Please respond this time. I beg you.
Puberty is a time of lots of change, but there’s difference in the amount of bodily change people go through and when it begins. Because of this difference, there’s no definitive way to know when puberty will start. It may be frustrating, but sometimes all it takes is time for your breasts to develop.
In those assigned female at birth, the average age that puberty begins is between the ages of 8 and 13 and it’s signaled by the development of breasts. This development begins as “buds,” which are small, raised bumps under the nipples. Throughout puberty, the breasts can continue to grow, and the nipples and surrounding areola usually increase in size, as well. Two to three years after the beginning of breast development, the first period typically occurs; the average age range for this first period is between 12 and 15. While breast development and periods are key components of puberty, other bodily changes can also occur at the same time. For example, you may notice acne, widening of the hips, increase in height, body hair growth, vaginal discharge, and body odor. Everybody is different though, and the extent and timing of these changes varies from person to person. Along that train of thought, your body is unique, and these changes will occur on your own timeline, not someone else’s. If you're concerned about lack of changes in your body associated with puberty, speaking with a health care provider can be helpful.
Now, once you go through puberty, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll notice a large increase in breast size. There are several factors that could influence their size:
- Family history: Genetics can determine so much about your body, and breast size is no exception. Is there more or less an average breast size in your family? This may give you a better clue to the size yours will be.
- Weight: This is dependent on how much fat tissue composes your breasts. If you have more fat tissue than supportive tissue, then an increase in weight could increase breast size while a decrease in weight could make them smaller.
- Physical activity routine: Specific chest exercises can develop the pectoral muscles, causing a change in shape and size of your breasts.
- Menstruation: The hormonal variance of your menstrual cycle can have distinct effects on the size, shape, and texture of your breasts. As you get closer to your period, swelling may occur, which may create the experience of slightly larger breasts.
- Birth control: Hormonal birth control, such as the birth control pill, hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), and the birth control shot may cause edema (water retention), leading to a temporary increase in breast size.
- Pregnancy: Just as hormones vary throughout the menstrual cycle, the same is true during pregnancy and postpartum. It’s common for breasts to grow significantly during pregnancy. They may swell even more if a person decides to breastfeed, but they’ll usually return to their previous size about six months after stopping.
- Age: Yes, puberty can cause a significant change in breast size, but further down the line, the same is true of menopause. During this time, other hormonal changes occur, which can change the shape and size of breasts. When the body produces less estrogen due to menopause, the connective tissue in breasts loses elasticity, which can cause sagging.
The bottom line: breast size and shape are variable as you move through life and pick up different daily habits.
Of course, it may be difficult to notice your friends' breasts begin to grow and listen to them trade stories of their first periods. At this moment, what pressures do you feel to have breasts? Do these come from friends, family, or images in the media? What would having breasts mean to you? Is there another way to achieve that meaning? Some of that meaning can come from the mindset you seem to already have. Maybe there’s a way to use that self-love that you have for parts of you in how you relate to other parts of your body.
Hoping you enjoy the changes to come,
Originally published Oct 23, 1998
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