Puberty

PubertyPerhaps one of the most visible developments, and the one that is the cause to some of the best, as well as the worst experiences of teenage life, is puberty–the collective term that encompasses the tremendous biological changes that take place in the teenager’s body, transforming him or her physically from a child into a young adult fully capable for reproduction. The relative hormonal balance of a child is thrown off base with the sudden increase in the production of sexual hormones (mainly the male hormone testosterone, and the female hormones progesterone and estrogen), which is necessary for the maturation of the body into a fully reproducible state.

Female puberty generally occurs earlier than male puberty, and its first visible sign is the beginning of breast development, followed by the growth of pubic hair, changes in the reproductive organs caused principally by an increased production of estrogen, and the start of the menstrual cycles, or monthly periods. The composition of the body also changes, similarly to male puberty, with the body slowly starting to take on a more womanly shape (or manly, in the case of guys).

For guys, puberty kicks in later, with the start of testicular growth that continues throughout adolescence. Men also start growing pubic hair, their voice starts to change (which is often awkward during this transitional period), and their body starts producing spermatozoa, male reproductive cells, through which they become biologically capable of creating new life.

There is also a phenomenon known as precocious puberty, or pubertas praecox in Latin, which is an early onset of biological puberty. This may be due to natural causes, certain kinds of disease, or an exposure to particular hormones.