Puberty is the period of growth in children when they achieve sexual maturation and transition toward adulthood. It typically occurs between the ages of 10 and 14 in girls and 10 and 16 in boys. During puberty, special hormones are released into the body to begin the process of maturation. In boys, this entails the production of testosterone and sperm. In girls, the hormones stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen and prepare for pregnancy.
What Happens During Puberty
Other than infancy, puberty is the greatest growth spurt that a human will experience during life. It often lasts two to three years and causes a number of changes to the body. Boys can expect their bodies to grow taller, heavier and wider. The voice typically gets lower, and hair grows all over the body where it hadn’t been previously. The penis and testicles also grow larger during puberty.
Girls will also get taller, grow hair and gain weight, and their bodies will become curvier as the breasts and hips grow. They will also begin their menstrual cycle.
Problems and Solutions
Teens often feel self-conscious about the changes of puberty, but it’s important to remember this is a normal process that everyone goes through. Problems experienced by both boys and girls may include acne and body odor. Acne can often be treated by over-the-counter remedies or prescription medications in severe cases. And body odor usually can be managed with the use of deodorants, antiperspirants and regular bathing.
In some instances, puberty can start very early, several years before the average age. This is known as precocious puberty, and it’s worth a visit to a doctor. It might be a sign of an underlying health problem, and there are treatments for delaying the onset of puberty in these situations.
SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health
The age of breast development declined significantly over the past 4 decades.
Girls exposed to chemicals commonly used in household products may enter puberty earlier.