The term puberty is used to describe a stage of sexual maturation characterized by series of transformations that occur in human beings from a range of 10 to 16 years. These transformations or changes include body morphology, biological, and psychological changes.
Changes during puberty may be so fast and wild the it becomes a challenge to most kids, leaving the parents with many responsibilities to ensure their mental, psychological, and physical health doesn’t get at stake.
Puberty sometimes changes a child’s behavior and reasoning, although some children withdraw from such features after reaching adulthood. There are just two systems of the body that initiate puberty: the endocrine and reproductive system.
In this today’s article, we have discussed both Male and female characters during puberty, the difference and answers to other questions you may want to ask.
In general, puberty begins when a child’s brain (the hypothalamus via the pituitary gland precisely) releases hormones that initiate these changes; some of which can be seen physically in both sexes.
We do not wish to go deep into such endocrine physiology so as to enable a wider audience and comprehension from our readers. Just know that the brain communicates with every system of our body. To initiate puberty, it releases substances called hormones that affect target organs which in turn elicits a desired body morphology. For instance, the brain releases hormones that instruct the testicles to release its own hormones to cause muscle enlargement in males during puberty.
What happens in males during puberty?
The exact stimuli that causes the release of hormones to initiate puberty is not known. However, the major hormone that initiates puberty in males is testosterone.
Endocrine changes occur during puberty first before the manifestations of visible changes.
Male changes during puberty include:
Increase in size of the testicles.
This is likely the first pubertal change, the increase in size of the testicles is as a result of the development of seminiferous tubules in the testicles.
A hormone called luteinizing hormone then stimulates the production of testosterone, the major hormone that initiates most of the pubertal changes. Meanwhile, the testicles continue to enlarge, the skin around the boys’ scrotum may become thin and darker in colour.
Boys begin to release sperm a year after testicles enlargement, these are immature sperm cells and are not capable of being fertilised.
Growth of pubic hairs
Pubic hairs grow simultaneously with testicles enlargement. However, the first hair that appears are thin, light and straight, the hair becomes darker and thicker after some time.
Shortly after, growth of hairs in the axilla (armpit), chest, and other areas arise.
The size of the penis also increases.
Children grow faster during puberty, this is because shortly after testosterone is produced, it causes an increase in a hormone called growth hormone, which peaks the growth spurt in teenagers.
The size of the muscles also increases as well as the size of the chest. Increase or enlargement of the larynx and vocal cords is what causes boys to have a deep, cracking voice during puberty.
The release of precursor hormones called adrenal androgens is what causes boys to have oily hairs which may have a foul smell. Acne or pimples may also appear in the face.
Changes in females during puberty
Females tend to reach puberty earlier than males. Pubertal changes in females are summarized below
Growth of breasts
Like testicles enlargement in males, breast growth is typically the first physical sign of puberty in females. This is initiated by estrogen and progesterone.
On the average, growth of pubic hairs occurs after six months of breasts spurt. The hairs are light and thin as well. After some time, secondary sexual transformations like growth of hairs in the armpit occur.
This is the first female menstrual period. Some teenage girls find this embarrassing, it the parents responsibility to educate their girl child earlier about Menarche and how to handle it when it starts.
At this stage of puberty, most girls want privacy and may find deep conversations difficult. Hilarious behaviour changes such as frequent gaze in mirrors, use of parents’ or makeup kits of their older sisters, and staying indoors are also common at this stage of puberty.
As a parent, you should take safe and supported steps. Sex education is recommended at this stage to avoid risks of unwanted pregnancies and sexual transmitted diseases/infections.
You don’t have to lie or exaggerate in discussions about their reproductive or sexual health; teenagers learn among their peers during puberty, they find it easier to discuss with friends than with a parent. This is the time every child needs their parents advice most.
What are the emotional changes in boys during puberty?
Increased levels of testosterone, coupled with peer group influence and social media presents the males with wild varieties of mental exposure. The child wants privacy and independence, they may start feeling they are old enough to make decisions concerning safety and morality this is likely not true. Anxiety and depression, and the feeling of wanting to be alone are common among the Male child.
Problems/challenges associated with puberty
Sometimes puberty may come earlier than expected, early puberty onsets are associated with risks of medical conditions like gigantism and Obesity. Early puberty or precocious puberty are caused by increased levels of testosterone. Causes of testosterone increase are suggestive of hereditary/genetic disorders or chemical reactions from the environment.
Medications prescribed by your doctor will help your child to manage precocious puberty. Such medications work by stopping the release of the hormones eliciting such abnormalities.
Sometimes puberty may be delayed. Physical signs of puberty such as pubic hairs and deep voice may not appear in this case. Delayed puberty may be caused as child abuse, improper feeding, or may the child have problems with their endocrine system. Other diseases like sickle cell anemia and chronic asthmatic conditions also delay puberty.
There’s no treatment for delayed puberty caused by heredity. However, other causes may be treated by hormone therapy which stimulates the development of the absent sexual characteristics.