What is Early Puberty?

Early puberty is when your daughter starts showing the first signs of puberty before she is 8 years old. This can be normal, but might require evaluation by a pediatric endocrinologist (hormone doctor).

What is Normal Puberty?

Normal puberty is when children’s bodies start to grow and develop into young adult bodies. Girls usually start to go through puberty between the ages of 8-13 years. When your daughter starts to go through puberty, her gonads (ovaries) and adrenal glands (glands that sit on top of the kidneys) release hormones. These hormones cause the first signs of puberty, which are breast development, body odor, underarm hair, pubic hair and acne (pimples). Over time, girls will develop later signs of puberty, such as a growth spurt followed by starting their menstrual periods.

There are 2 types of puberty that make up the entire pubertal process. These are:

  • Adrenal puberty
    This is when the adrenal glands make hormones that cause the first signs of puberty including body odor, pubic hair, underarm hair and acne.
  • Gonadal puberty
    This is when the pituitary gland (a small gland in the brain that controls other glands in the body) makes hormones that tell the gonads (ovaries) to make the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for breast and uterine development, starting a monthly period and growing taller.

Learn more

Rev. 1/2015
MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.