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What is it Puberty (adolescence) ?

Puberty is the period of life when the body goes from being a child to being an adult. The sexual organsand the body as a whole evolves, develop and / or change in function. Growth is accelerating. The adolescent approaches his adult height at the end of puberty. His body will be able to reproduce; the function of reproduction is then said acquired.

The changes of puberty occur following hormonal upheaval. The endocrine glands, particularly the ovaries and testes, stimulated by messages from the brain, produce sex hormones. These hormones generate the appearance of these changes. The body changes and develops (weight, morphology and size), bones and muscles get longer.

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In young girls…

The ovaries begin to produce female hormones such as estrogen. The first visible sign of puberty is breast development. Then come the hairiness in the sexual area and armpits and the change of appearance of the vulva. The latter, whose small lips enlarge, becomes horizontal because of the enlargement and the tilting of the pelvis. Then, about a year after, the white losses appear, then, within two years of the beginning of breast development, the rulesoccur. The latter are often irregular at the beginning and the first cycles do not always involve ovulation. Then the cycles usually become more and more regular (about 28 days). Finally, the pelvis widens and the adipose tissue develops and changes distribution. Hips, buttocks and belly become more rounded. Female puberty begins on average at 10 years and a half (age of appearance of breast bud). The complete development of the breasts, which after the onset of menstruation marks the end of puberty, is acquired on average at 14 years of age.

In boys…

The testicles enlarge and increase their testosterone production. This is one of the first visible signs of puberty in young men. The sexual hair appears, the pigmented scrotum and penis grows. The testicles begin to grow on average at 11 and half years, which mark the beginning of puberty. The pubic hair that marks the end of puberty is on average final at 15 years old, when the boy becomes fertile. But the changes continue: the voice change can be up to 17 or 18 years and the facial and thoracic hairwill not complete until much later, sometimes at 25 or 35 years. In more than half of all boys, breast enlargement occurs at puberty between 13 and 16 years of age. This is often worrying for a boy, but it comes back in about a year, even if a tiny, palpable mammary gland can persist in a third of adult men.

At puberty, in girls as in boys , perspiration in the armpits and the sexual area increases, the hair in these same areas appears. Under the effect of testosterone, in boys as in girls, the skin becomes oilier, and this increases the risk of acne , common at this age.

Puberty also generates psychological changes. The anxiety , the worried, agonize them may appear. Body modifications occurring at puberty can influence the adolescent’s personality, emotions and thoughts , with very often physical complexities due to rapid changes in the body. But the biggest psychological change of puberty is the appearance of sexual desire , associated with fantasies and possibly erotic dreams. The appearance of desire for pregnancy is also very common among girls.

The age of onset of puberty and its duration are variable.

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The different types of puberty (adolescence)

It seems that the first signs of puberty appear younger and younger. A feeling confirmed for many years by Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens.

Beyond the arrival of more and earlier puberty , there are also puberty said premature , other early and still others said delayed .

The precocious puberty true are abnormal and often appear before 6 years. They are to be treated to delay this puberty.

In the case of premature puberty , normal but occurring earlier than average, the first signs of puberty appears between 8 and 9 years for girls and around 9 years for boys. The precocity of puberty causes repercussions on growth and a risk of reducing the final size that will reach the child. The causes of precocious puberty are sometimes a medical problem (such as brain injury or brain tumor), genetic or hereditary . Some environmental factors are also blamed by some.

delayed puberty often occurs in young girls very thin or very athletic. The reason may be that the amount of fat is insufficient to allow sufficient production of estrogen. This delay of puberty is often not serious but it must be taken seriously. It requires consultation if no sign of puberty is present at the age of 13, or if the rules did not appear at 16 years. In the boy, if at 14 years old no sign of puberty is present, it is good to envisage a consultation. A delay of puberty is most often a simple natural delay . Puberty is in this case later but normal. Other reasons may delay puberty: a genetic anomaly , apoor functioning of the pituitary gland , abnormalities of the ovaries or testicles or certain chronic diseases . Malnutrition can also cause a delay in the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics.

Hormones involved and diseases related to puberty (adolescence)

Hormones involved

The hormones that participate in puberty are numerous. Puberty begins in the hypothalamus that stimulates the pituitary gland. From there, FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) are released into the circulation . These two hormones, also known as gonadotropins, stimulate the development of the sex glands, the gonads (ovaries and testes). These gonads produce especially testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls.

The adrenal glands located above the kidneys produce androgenic hormones which are, from the beginning of puberty, transformed into testosterone in the tissues. It is this hormonal circuit that triggers the appearance of sexual hair, in girls as in boys.

The hormones involved in the growth of the body are also produced in large quantities at the time of puberty. Thus, the hypothalamus secretes somatostatin, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland. The latter then produces, among other things, a growth hormone, GH ( growth hormone ) .

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Diseases associated with puberty

At puberty, it is common to suffer from headaches or acne, especially because of the hyperfunction of the sebaceous glands. Always because of the hormonal upheaval that characterizes this period of life … At the time of puberty, excessive sweating ( hyperhidrosis ) can be observed.

Sleep 3  can also be upset. Teenagers, who usually go to bed late, often miss sleep time.

Risk factors of puberty (adolescence) and precocious puberty

Risk factors of puberty

At the girl’s house

  • Breast development
  • The appearance of sexual hair
  • The appearance of hair under the armpits and on the legs
  • Growth of small lips.
  • The horizontalization of the vulva.
  • The molt of the voice (less important than in the boy)
  • A very significant growth in size
  • The increase of hip circumference
  • More perspiration in the armpits and the sexual area.
  • The appearance of white losses
  • The onset of first menstruation (on average two years after the arrival of the first signs of puberty)
  • The appearance of sexual desire

At the boy

  • The development of the testicles and the penis.
  • The color change of the scrotum.
  • Very significant growth, especially in terms of size
  • The appearance of sexual hair
  • The appearance of hair under the armpits and on the legs
  • The appearance of a mustache, then a beard
  • Shoulder enlargement
  • The increase of the musculature
  • The appearance of first ejaculations, usually nocturnal and involuntary
  • The molt of the voice becomes more serious
  • The appearance of sexual desire

People at risk and risk factors for precocious puberty

Girls are more affected than boys by  early puberty .

The obesity  is a risk factor for  early puberty . Some medications may also be responsible for advanced puberty. Endocrine disrupters in the environment are also referred to as increasingly common factors of early puberty.

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