When Will My Breasts Develop?
Breast development is often the first visible sign of puberty in adolescent girls. As a result, this unique and sometimes unpredictable process can feel very nerve-wracking. Some girls may feel self-conscious that they are experiencing breast development before their classmates, while others wait anxiously for the process to begin! Breast development typically begins between the ages of 7 and 13, but can start even later for some. All in all, it is important to remember that this process is never the same for two people - the rate of growth, final breast size and timing is different for each individual. In fact, a girl’s breasts may even develop at different rates, with one breast budding before the other, or developing at a faster rate. These factors are primarily determined by your genetics, and are generally beyond your control. To answer your burning questions and ease the sense of uncertainty associated with this part of puberty, Apricotton has created a guide describing each stage in breast development. These stages will help you recognize your signs and symptoms, and let you know what developments to expect next.
Stage 1: Pre-Puberty
This stage occurs before a girl has begun the process of puberty, and is characterized by having a flat chest with only the tip of the nipple raised. In this stage, there has been no estrogen released to commence the breast development process.
Stage 2: Breast Buds
Breast buds develop as a result of a sudden surge of estrogen secreted by the ovaries at the beginning of puberty. During this stage, you will notice small nickel-sized bumps under your nipple. The areola (pigmented area around the nipple) and the nipple will be raised above the chest. The skin around the nipple will become darker, and you will likely notice pubic and underarm hair appearing around this time. On average, breast buds appear around the age of 10, but timing varies significantly based on your genetics.
Stage 3: Breast Tissue Growth
In this stage, you will notice breast tissue expanding outside the areola region. The areola and nipple will not be raised above the breast. This stage typically happens around age 12, often at the same time as you begin menstruation.
Stage 4: Continued Breast Development
This stage is unique in that some girls skip it entirely! Many girls will simply transition between stages 3 and 5. Features of stage 4 include the areola and nipple enlarging and forming a second mound, which is elevated above the breast. This stage typically occurs around ages 13-14.
Stage 5: Filling Out
This stage typically occurs around age 15, however breasts can continue to fill out throughout a girl’s teenage years and early 20s. This is considered the end stage of a mature adult breast, where the areola recedes and eliminates the second mound that was created in stage 4. Breasts are now smooth and round, with only the nipple raised above the breast.
What Else Should I Expect?
Above, we described the most common signs of breast development throughout each stage. However, you will likely experience a number of visible and invisible symptoms that you may not have previously associated with breast development. These symptoms include tenderness, soreness and discomfort while breast buds are developing. When the skin stretches to make room for these buds, this can cause itching and even create stretch marks. Not to worry - stretch marks tend to fade and discomfort will ease with time. One way to minimize these aches and pains is by wearing well fitting, soft bras. At Apricotton, we have designed bras that grow as you grow. Our flexible bras eliminate the hassle of purchasing new bras at each stage of development!
About the Author
Kate is a business student at Western University, who enjoys hiking and canoeing in her free time. As the oldest of three sisters, Kate has a passion for sharing advice, and helping girls build a sense of self-confidence.