Thelarche

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Thelarche means the development of breasts in human females during puberty (sexual development).[1]

Development[change | change source]

Generally, the left breast is the larger of the two.[2] This usually begins when girls are about 9[3]. A lump that is a bit hard appears in each breast under the areola, which is the dark ring around the nipple. The lump in one breast may grow before the other one.[4] This is called breast budding.[5] Within 6-12 months, both breasts will have started growing. The swelling can be felt and seen outside the edges of the areolae. About 1 and a half to 2 years after the breasts first start growing, they are close to the shape and size of an adult woman's breasts. The nipple and areola may be on a smaller mound on each breast. This small mound usually goes away when each breast is fully grown.[6] Breast size depends on the body's amount of fat.[5][7]

Thelarchic stage[change | change source]

It is the Tanner 2 stage of breast development (a scale used to analyze changes in people from childhood to adulthood). The first stage is the non-developed prepubescent state of breasts. Thelarche is usually the first sign of puberty. It usually occurs after age 8, and is the first evidence of puberty in 60% of women. It usually ends at age 13.[8] However, it can sometimes happen earlier. When this happens, it can be by itself (called isolated premature thelarche).[9] It could also be a wider pattern of precocious puberty (sexual development happening too early).

Hormones[change | change source]

The process is started by estradiol, the primary female sex hormone. Many young women are not prepared for thelarche, and this may result in stress.[10] Teaching materials on breast development for elementary and middle schools has been suggested to promote breast health by reducing shame.[11]

References[change | change source]

  1. Merriam Webster defintion http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/thelarche
  2. Loughry C.W. et al 1987. Right and left breast volume and volume distribution comparisons in normal and tumor-containing breasts. Cancer Detect Prev, 10(3-4):215-21. [1]
  3. Olson, Ginny Teenage Girls: Exploring Issues Adolescent Girls Face and Strategies to help them https://books.google.com/books?id=miQ5iJnXDKkC&pg=PT30&dq=girls+breasts+start+growing+10+years&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YhDgVKffF4qmyAT6q4CgDQ&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
  4. Marshall, Human Growth, p. 187.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Anne Byers (2007). "How do Girls' Bodies Change during Puberty?". Frequently Asked Questions about Puberty. New York, N.Y.: Rosen Publishing. pp. 26–33 at 27. ISBN 978-1-4042-0966-4..
  6. Marshall, Human Growth, p. 188.
  7. See also "Normal breast development". 007 Breasts. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  8. Glass' Office Gynecology, edited by Robert Glass et al, page 15.
  9. Isolated Premature Thelarche http://www.health.am/gyneco/more/isolated-premature-thelarche/
  10. Golub, Sharon (ed) 1983. Menarche: the transition from girl to woman. Lexington Books, Toronto.
  11. Sex Hysteria. https://sexhysteria.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/breast-shame-tradition-deception-and-the-money-trail/