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Stages of Breast Development

Body development is a very normal part of growing up. However, this type of development may cause some confusion and self-consciousness for girls who develop breasts earlier than their friends and classmates. This article explains the five stages of breast development and offers tips for selecting the right bra.


Puberty is the term used to describe the changes that occur as you transition from a child into an adult. During this period, the master gland in the brain – the pituitary gland – produces hormones that trigger changes such as breast development and the growth of underarm hair. Boys go through puberty, too, but they experience different changes than girls. The Nemours Foundation says girls typically go through puberty sometime between eight and 13 years of age. Puberty is signified by the development of breasts in girls. Breast development usually occurs one year before the first menstrual period.

Stage One

The first stage of breast development occurs during childhood. During this stage, the breasts are flat and do not show any signs of development. This period typically lasts until girls are 10 years old.

Stage Two

During the second stage of breast development, girls will start to notice the formation of breast buds. The areolas also increase in size. Both the breasts and the nipple are raised from the body during this stage of development.

Stage Three

Sometime between the ages of 12 and 14, the breasts get slightly larger. Girls may become more aware of their breasts and wonder what is happening to their bodies.

Stage Four

The breasts become prominent during the fourth stage of breast development. Other changes also occur during this period of time. One of the major changes is that the skin will naturally grow to adjust to the increased size of the breasts. This may cause stretch marks, but these marks generally disappear with time.

Stage Five

The last stage of breast development results in breasts that are full and round. Breasts typically maintain their size for most of a woman’s life. Some girls get lumps that come and go with their menstrual cycles. Some girls also experience breast pain during their cycles. The American Academy of Family Physicians says that no further treatment is needed for cyclical breast pain for 90 percent of women under the age of 35, so this is not something to be concerned about for most girls. Other girls have one breast that is slightly larger than the other. It is normal for girls to have these concerns, but they are nothing to worry about.

Choosing a Supportive Bra

It is normal to feel a little anxious about your developing breasts, but there is no reason to be nervous. Breast development is a normal part of developing into an adult. Millions of young women experience this stage of development every year. If you are concerned about your appearance, it is important to choose the right bra once your breasts develop. Some teens use a training bra once their breast buds start to develop. The training bra supports the breast buds and increases your comfort. Without the right bra, you can experience several problems, such as:

  • Breast pain
  • Lack of breast support
  • Discomfort when exercising
  • Skin irritation
  • Increased sweating under the breasts

When selecting a training bra, it is better to select one made of cotton instead of one made of satin or lace. This is because cotton does not affect the skin as much as other fabrics when you sweat. Even if your breasts have not developed yet, you may want to try a training bra anyway. Many teens want to wear bras because their peers are doing so. This is completely normal and acceptable. If you have very large breasts, visit a specialty bra shop. Professional fitters can help you find a comfortable, supportive bra.

If you have one breast that is larger than the other, you should adjust your bra accordingly. In many cases, the smaller breast eventually catches up with the larger breast. If you have any questions about choosing the right bra, a bra fitter can help you find the best bra for your situation.

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