Breast development is a particularly important stage in a girl's puberty. Before puberty the breasts are flat except for the small raised nipple in the middle. The nipple is usually pink or brown and is surrounded by a ring of flesh, the same colour as the nipple, called the areola. After puberty starts, the nipple and areola get larger and darker as the breasts begin to develop and swell. The reason the breasts are getting larger is because the milk ducts are developing and the fat tissue is forming around those ducts to protect them. Breasts aren't actually able to make milk until after you've had a baby, but your body is preparing itself now for a time when you may want to get married and have children of your own. Like everything else, breast growth is different for every girl. Some girls take six or more years from the time their breasts first start to grow until they are fully developed. Others almost fully develop within a year. Usually, breasts will be developing for four or five years.
Sometimes breasts may be tender or sore as they are growing. Although this is uncomfortable, it is also quite normal and nothing to worry about. Also, like the bones in your body, one breast may decide to develop faster than the other, making you afraid that you will end up “lopsided”. By the time one reaches maturity, both breasts will be pretty much the same size and although it is usual for one side to be slightly larger than the other, this difference will be so small that no one, maybe not even you, will be able to see it.
Wearing a bra is a decision each girl has to make on her own. Most girls wear one to help support their breasts so they don't bounce around so much when they run or play. The extra support may help cut down on any discomfort one may feel.
Boys may also notice changes in their breasts, although not nearly as dramatic a change as the girls. The nipples and areola may get wider and a little darker. You may notice a bump or lump under your nipples which may make your breasts tender or even sore. This is normal and just means that your body is reacting to all the new hormones it is making. The lumps and discomfort will eventually go away, after your body has settled down.
A lot of boys also will notice a mild swelling of their breasts, which can also produce some soreness. This is also very normal and doesn't mean that you are turning into a girl! The swelling will usually disappear within a few months to two years.
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