It’s that age when your body starts to change and you grow into adulthood. Till now, you were just girls and boys, perhaps unaware that your bodies differ a lot biologically besides the hair length, difference of clothes and names. For boys their voices become husky and deep, and for girls, the changes are more physical – development of breasts, the periodic cycles setting in, and so on.
But is it really just that? Do we really know what goes on in our body and brains when puberty hits? For instance, did you know that African-American girls hit puberty earlier than girls from other regions? Let’s have a look at some of these facts to understand puberty better.
1. Puberty ≠ adolescence
Puberty is not to be confused with adolescence. Puberty is the physiological growth and physical development that takes place when the pituitary gland releases growth hormones. Whereas adolescence is a fancy word for teenager.
2. Puberty = worry
It’s the teenage. The world becomes more complicated now than it was as a child. Negotiations of new freedoms with parents and thinking about what friends think, or worry about what’s happening in school, and most worrisome is this question: whether the person you’ve got a crush on knows you’re alive? It’s easy to find stuff to worry or wonder about.
3. The changes can be depressing.
Even if all of this seems under control, you’ll be spending much more time than before worrying about the changing body. Are my breasts too large – or too small? Is my penis the wrong size? Am I too short or too tall? Or too hairy? Or not hairy enough? My skin is such a disaster!! A good tactic would be to prepare those going through puberty well in advance for the change that is to come. Have a heart to heart discussion with them, start treating them as adults, narrate some of your own experiences of going through puberty, and so on.
4. There’s no fixed age!
If you’re off to an early start or an unusually late one, relax. Everyone develops according to their own personal biological clock. Girls start developing as early as 9 or as late as 15. Boys can start as early as 10 and can continue through 17 or 18. (Many women maintain that men continue their puberty well into their 40’s.)
5. The growth spurt depends more on your gender type and not the age.
Boys can experience growth spurts practically overnight, resulting in sudden maladjustment in motor-coordination skills. This accounts for a clumsy/awkward phase that many guys suffer through. Whereas the changes, though more noticeable, are slower in girls.
6. The personal changes.
Most girls experience their first vaginal discharge in the form of menstruation, which continues naturally on a monthly cycle. Boys experience their first discharge in the form of a “wet dream”.
7. The outward changes.
The general puberty sequence followed by girls is: breast development, pubic hair, growth spurt, menstruation, and, finally, armpit hair (which you may shave or style with mousse. Joke, girls!) Boys follow a different sequence: genital development, pubic hair, a general growth spurt, followed by a voice change. Facial and body hair become more prominent later, to finally justify the voice.
8. There are some changes which are not common.
Remember that these are just general guidelines. Your unique body may be developing in a different order, for instance, acne severity is genetic. There is no evidence to support that chocolate or fried foods provoke breakouts. However, chocolate or fried foods can produce chunky thighs.
9. It is the right age to start being fit.
Exercise and good nutrition are pivotal during puberty. The body has shifted into high gear and is working overtime in order to accommodate the puberty cycle – it needs to be food-fuelled responsibly. Moderate exercise is key in maintaining your changing body in good shape.
10. You might die!
Seemingly, “adult” health concerns, such as high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and cholesterol levels find their roots in the early teen years. Attention should be paid to limiting high fat and sugar content and empty calorie foods.
11. Gender change at later stages in life.
In late old age, secondary sex characteristics surface in many elderly men and women. Women can grow facial hair and men can start developing breasts! (An amazing but true fact.)
The thing to keep in mind is that change is inevitable. Many teens find the transition phase depressing. Make them look at your own photos at different stages and ages, talk to them about all the changes, and they will definitely open up. Puberty is also the age when a person craves for maximum attention and affection, though they would never openly admit it. As the famous quote goes “Change is the only permanence”, we along with the puberty hitting kids, need to accept the fact that they are not our little kiddos anymore and are not going to stay that forever anyway.