How Early Puberty Affected Me

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A teen mom reflects on her good and bad decisions resulting from early puberty, as she advises girls in similar situations to make wise choices.

By ClinicalPosters Staff

Diminishing Female Puberty Onset

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Amanda was 9 years old when she began wearing a training bra. Before age 10, she had her first period. In the fifth grade, Amanda was, anatomically, as mature as her teacher—able to conceive children. But sitting behind a school desk, she fielded derisions from female classmates, and propositions from older boys.

What she didn’t realize at the time is that other girls around the world also begin puberty around age 10. In fact, menarche onset has been steadily declining since the 1970s. No one is quite sure why.

Danish researchers compiled data from 30 studies to emphasize the downward trend over the past 4 decades. The average age of early breast development ranges from 9 to 10 in the United States; 10 to 11 in Europe; 10 in the Middle East; 9 to 11 in Asia, and 10 to 13 in Africa.

Doctors theorize a correlation with rising obesity. Subcutaneous fat is a component of breast tissue. But that doesn’t explain hormonal changes of puberty. Some scientists suspect it may relate to steroids in food, used to grow meat faster. Others consider environmental toxins as a possible indicator.

Social Effects Among School Girls

Amanda proudly poked her chest out in the mirror when stage-2 buds first formed. It’s the exciting confirmation that a girl is becoming a woman. She still has digital photos of growth stages. Subsequent mounds quickly advanced to stage-4 breasts by age 11, and stage-5 by age 12 (premature thelarche). But corresponding development was absent from most female classmates.

Youthful peers may secretly envy early puberty. But they tend to mock anyone or anything out of the norm. Being the only one with pubic hair and breasts in the locker room made Amanda a target for jesting. By belittling her, they felt more attractive.

Peers don’t usually compliment others for early development, such as growth spurts. Amanda wasn’t tall, but she stood out. Early physical and hormonal changes triggered desires for intimacy prior to mature emotional development. A mutual attraction developed between boys a few years older, who were also adapting to puberty hormones.

Amanda began storing extra clothes in her locker. Among groups of girls, she’d layer loose-fitting conservative clothing to conceal her female attributes. For boys, she’d dress provocatively to accentuate her femininity. By age 12, Amanda was sexually active with high school juniors and seniors. She admits enjoying the ability to experience something normally reserved for adults.

At her age, the only secret method of birth control available to her was male condoms. Used properly, they can prevent 82 percent of pregnancies. But Amanda couldn’t compute that this corresponds to a high chance of conception with every tenth encounter. Used improperly or inconsistently, it’s inevitable that girls like her find themselves facing early teen pregnancy.

This is where the lack of emotional development is a detriment. Within a natural family, the birth of a child, unites a husband and wife. Prenatal development and oxytocin released during breastfeeding bonds mother and child.

Coping With Teen Pregnancy

As a child herself, the growth within Amanda’s womb was an indicator of her own bad behavior. This tattletale could limit her education, social standing, career, and further opportunities for intimacy. Such fears were the emotions prompting her actions. The fetus was an inconvenience that could wreck her future. Instead of studying algebra, she found herself researching ways to terminate the life within her.

Kentucky 2022 teen birth rate is nearly 25 per 1,000.

One Kentucky peer suggested concealing the pregnancy with more loose-hanging clothing and failing gym class for non-participation. Then she could abandon the infant at a fire station, or discard it immediately after giving birth in a bathroom stall. These ideas seemed too risky. No one—especially children—should be contemplating how to end another’s life.

Amanda’s parents never knew about the first time. As her emotions began catching up to her physical development, Amanda had regrets. Before the second termination, she consulted her mother, Margaret.

It wasn’t easy. For several weeks Amanda kept backing down. But she knew that the longer she waited, the further along the prenatal development would progress. Eventually, Amanda overcame fears of shouting, belittlement, scorn, and rejection. She confessed to living a double life, and at 14 was pregnant and considering an abortion.

Instead of shouting, Amanda saw and heard tears, which caused her to also well up. They then embraced for several minutes before another word was said. Margaret explained that the bond between a mother and her child outlives fetal termination. This correlated with the feelings Amanda had for her absent first child.

Margaret advised against the abortion and assured Amanda of her support. Together, they researched programs and educational rights for pregnant students. Then her mother provided a much needed facts-of-life sex education talk.

Obviously, Amanda knew how to conceive babies. But she knew less about the emotional connection with a lifelong mate. She didn’t understand all the responsibilities of child rearing. Nor was Amanda aware of various methods of contraception.

Her mother provided enlightenment about sexually transmitted infections, including herpes and HPV. Then Margaret said promiscuity affects self-respect and public perception. All this information curtailed Amanda’s sexual activity considerably through high school graduation.

Instead of capitalizing on being an early bloomer with premature intimacy opportunities, she began focusing on how to be the best premature mother. Amanda sacrificed a career to raise two children out of wedlock. One daughter began puberty at age 12; the other at age 14.

Young fathers were never supportive. But her mother has been loyal. At an early age, Amanda made sure that her girls had all the information to prevent repeating her mistakes.

Amanda still cries when she recalls nearly terminating the life of her firstborn. This child has such an adorable personality. All three of them are the best of friends. Within the next two years, both daughters will be graduating from high school.

Some might say that Amanda put her life on hold—or even threw it away. But she believes that she breathed new life into others. That’s her greatest gift as a mother.

In her early 30s, Amanda is beginning to date again. This time, with hopes of possible marriage, she’s not leading with intimacy. Her focus is on finding someone smart, with qualities of maturity, stability, and responsibility.

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