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What is puberty? When does puberty start? Important information

At puberty sexual maturation and changes in all organs occur. It culminates with the definitive size and shape of the adult type and with the beginning of reproductive capacity.

There are also psychological and personality changes.

When does puberty start?

The onset of puberty is influenced by environmental changes (diet, geographical area in which one lives, standard of living, etc.) and genetic factors. Puberty begins between the ages of 8 and 14 in girls and between 9 and 15 in boys.

How long does puberty last?

Its duration is also variable, between 2 and 5 years.

How and why does it happen?

When puberty begins, a gland in the brain begins to secrete special hormones.

In boys , these hormones travel through the blood to the testicles and cause them to start making another hormone, testosterone, which causes most of the changes in the male body.

In girls , the same hormones go to the ovaries and start the production of estrogen and progesterone. Together, they prepare the girl’s body to begin menstruation, to become pregnant and have a child in the future.

How does it start and what are its stages of development?

In females , the first sign of puberty is usually breast development. A small lump appears called “breast button” that can be somewhat annoying and asymmetric between both sides.

In the following months, this button increases in size, while changes occur in the nipple and areola. Although sometimes one breast grows faster than the other, in most cases they end up being the same.

Growth of pubic and armpit hair then begins, and finally the first menstruation or menarche occurs , usually a year and a half to two years after the onset of breast development.

In boys , the first physical evidence of puberty is usually the enlargement of the testicles. Later, pubic hair development and penis enlargement occur.

In men, an increase in the breasts can also occur temporarily . It can be a unilateral or bilateral increase, sometimes painful and that disappears in a few months.

The first ejaculations , called pollutions, usually appear towards the middle of development. They occur at night in the early years of puberty. They occur when the penis becomes erect and ejaculates (expels) a fluid called semen that contains sperm. They are also called “wet dreams” because they happen while you are asleep; they generally decrease during puberty, but can occur occasionally even during adulthood.

Pubertal changes are variable. In general, pubic hair usually comes before breast and testicular development.

What other changes occur?

Growth is very fast, between 7-12 cm/year. The “growth” first affects the limbs and then the trunk.

In females, the peak of maximum growth velocity is lower than in males and is usually at the beginning of puberty. From here the speed of growth slows down, but they will still continue to grow for another year or two.

During puberty weight increases . Males gain muscle mass, and therefore strength. Women accumulate fat in the hips and thighs.

Body hair increases in quantity, density and length. In both sexes there is a progressive development of pubic and axillary hair. In men, in addition, facial hair appears.

In boys there are changes in the voice , due to the growth of the larynx. At first they are produced by speaking “roosters and whistles” until the voice becomes serious like that of an adult. The development of the larynx is greater in males, which causes a small lump in the front part of the neck known as a walnut.

Acne and body odor also accompany pubertal development in men and women due to hormonal action on the glands of the skin. Keeping the skin clean is usually enough to control them.

What psychological changes begin in this stage of adolescence?

Adolescence is considered an ambiguous and contradictory stage in the course of life, since one is neither fully adult nor child.

In many adolescents there is concern and anxiety about the new appearance of the body and whether or not what is happening to them is normal. Seeking social approval, body image is highly valued and eating behavior disorders may appear .

Sexuality takes on enormous importance. Erotic sensations are aroused and new feelings about sex are initiated .

Family relationships decrease, in favor of people of their age group. Family autonomy is acquired. The limits imposed by parents or relatives often generate conflicts.

At this stage of life, young people consider their values ​​and begin to make decisions regarding their future employment.

Tips for parents:

  • Convey love and security to children

  • Talk to them about your feelings

  • Ask them frequently and listen to them

  • Not giving what they ask for right away

  • Reinforce your optimism

  • Put ourselves in their shoes, understand them and say that we will help them

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