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You are here : home > Teen Issues > They've hit Puberty > Puberty and Adolescence

Puberty and Adolescence

Growing Pains

When people talk about puberty, teenagers and adolescence, the things that come to mind are: raging hormones, cracking voices, budding breasts, menstruation, cranky, rebellious teenagers, sprouting hair, acne, wearing bras for the first time, and razor knicks on fresh-faced youth.

The onset of puberty is the most obvious sign of 'growing up' physically. To put it more formally, puberty can be defined as "a biological or physiological process characterized by the maturation of the sexual organs and the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics." People often think that puberty and adolescence refer to the same thing. However, they refer to two different aspects of growing up. While puberty covers the physical, adolescence deals with the mental and has been described as a "psychosocial process characterized by mental and social growth, and often extending from puberty to the early 20s and sometimes beyond."
 

A question of hormones

When does this transformation begin? For girls it can happen any time between the ages of 8 and 12, while for boys it usually begins a couple of years later than girls. But there is no such thing as the right time. So there's no point wondering why she has breasts and you don't or why he's got a mustache and you don't. 

So what exactly happens? It's as if a switch clicks on in the brain and activates a section of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, in turn, triggers the pituitary gland to produce two hormones - follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The pituitary gland also releases a growth hormone called somatotropin. 

FSH and LH are released cyclically in females and play a key role in the menstrual cycle. They stimulate the ovaries to secrete estrogen and progesterone and are responsible for the growth of the egg in the ovary. 

In the case of males, these hormones target the testes, which are responsible for the production of sperm and testosterone. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland monitor the level of testosterone in the blood and produce more or less releasing factors to raise and lower the testosterone levels as required. 
 

First bras and new razors

While all this is happening on the inside, what's going on on the outside? As a result of all this hormonal activity, girls' breasts get bigger and it's time to buy their first bras; they become more hairy, especially in the pubic area and they begin to menstruate. Boys, on the other hand, suddenly shoot up in height, downy fuzz appears on their chins and upper lips attempting to pass off as a beard and mustache; their voices crack at the most crucial and embarrassing moments; and finally, their penises and testes grow.  
 

Emotional roller coaster

Most adolescents are uncomfortable and self-conscious about their growing breasts and suddenly awkward limbs. They feel that people are looking at them differently. Every pimple seems magnified a hundred times and girls hunch over trying to conceal their growing bust lines.  To make matters worse, most parents are at a loss when faced with their children's budding sexuality. They cannot accept the fact that their 'babies' are talking and thinking about sex. As a result, adolescents are ecstatic one minute, irritable and moody the next. On one hand, they display a newfound maturity in keeping with their 'adult' status. On the other, they throw tantrums that could rival a three-year-old.

Puberty and adolescence bring with them a lot of emotional baggage. People in their adolescent years feel like they are in a twilight zone, hanging somewhere in the middle of childhood and adulthood. It's as if they're sitting on an emotional seesaw, feeling 'up' one minute, down the next; feeling old on some days, and like a child on others. It is a difficult time, but it makes one feel better to think that everyone goes through it. 

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Recent comments (22 comments)
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Comment: 
Name: spazz
Country: India

have you heard of a telecounselling service for adolescents by the name 'YourCandidFriend. com' It is a service which I am using for my 16 year old daughter who lives in a hostel away from me and really feeling very secure of her emotional wellbeing as many renowned psychologists are at the other end of the phone line where they guide my daughter in difficult times. I would recommend it to every parent who is concerned about their emotional wellbeing of their wards and also scared that their children would drift away in a wrong company.
 
Name: spazz
Country: India

I wonder sometimes whether there is a way in which we could ensure security of the emotional wellbeing of our adolescent children?
 
Name: lily
Country: India

Kids shouldn't be surprised with blood spots or through friends.Its the parents that need to tell the daughters about menstrual flow before they get it.I gave my daughter the talk along with a lil kit,that had everything she will need during her periods.I even got her adira period panties since i don't want her to have embarrassing days at school.
 
Name: yssubramanyam
Country: India

most of the parents are not aware of their children sensitivity. children above 10 must be viewed /seriously/ carefully. couple should never enter in to bed room, under estimating the child's awareness. have a vigilant observation. puberty is a physical, but mentally they are craving before age. i have studied a lot in my experience. i am dealing with children since i am coaching maths to higher classes. please be cautious.
 
Name: geeta
Country: india

i sad
 
Name: johnhim
Country: Sudan

i love that
 
Name: sat
Country: India

how we can guess ,when the girl starts her menses ,when breast started coming up and some hair
 
Name: RACHEL
Country: Mauritius

it very important to have those program so that our generation future have to educate them for all other future generation
 
Name: su
Country: India

hey its the period in life that you will remember thru out life
 
Name: krishna
Country: India

amazing!
 
Name: PAVNEEET SIDHUVIIID
Country: India

i love boys reproductive parts
 
Name: RASHMEET
Country: India

i love this period
 
Name: vidya dhabhai
Country: India

i think it is very helpful for the parents of teenagers but the thing missing is how the parents can guide their children at this stage
 
Name: vishakha
Country: India

i felt embarrasing when other students were playing in the school and i was weeping in the class because of periods pain boys of my class were asking me that why iam weeping
 
Name: akanksha
Country: India

its embarassing.
 
Name: anu
Country: India

could any one tell me what food do we need to give when the girl gets her menses for the first time
 
Name: Doctor Jyot
Country: India

let all the parents understand the growth-spurt during puberty of their son/daughter. give enough nutritional foods to build the bones and muscles for proper height and weight. body image can be enhanced during teenage for overall personality development. visit teennparents
 
Name: babu
Country: India

nice information for parents thanks for this
 
Name: suvajit
Country: India

very nice information
 
Name: ann mary
Country: India

thanku for this information please add more about adolescence
 
Name: ann mary
Country: India

thanku for this information please add more about adolescence
 
Name: MANJU
Country: Madagascar

i felt more pain in the menses.what can i do for that.please tell one solusion


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