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What is puberty?
It is the time where the body begins to develop and change when there is a shift from the childhood to adulthood. Some of you guys would already have experienced while some of them will experience it very soon!
Puberty is a period where there are rapid physical, physiological, and psychological changes resulting from sexual maturity.
Puberty ranges for several years, wherein there is rapid physical growth.
The sequence of physical changes in the body can be predicted in puberty, but the age at which puberty begins varies from individual to individual. The girls attain puberty at \(10\) or \(11\) years, while boys attain puberty at \(12\) to \(14\) years.
Factors that affect the onset and progress of puberty:
  • Genetic and biological influences
  • Socio-economic status
  • Amount of body fat
  • Nutrition
  • Diet
 A baby born has a full set of reproductive organ, but these organs do not function during the first \(10\) or \(11\) years.
The hormones in the body influence or induce puberty and the activity of reproductive organs. The changes in hormones during puberty trigger physical and behavioural changes. At puberty, the sex hormones activate the male and female sex glands that causes sexual maturity in boys and girls.
The period during which adolescence reach sexual maturity and are capable of reproduction is called puberty.
The male reproductive organs, testes, release testosterone, while the female reproductive organs, ovaries, release estrogen. The release of these hormones results in changes in the primary and secondary sexual characteristics of males and females.
Body changes observed at puberty
The important changes which take place during puberty are:
1. Changes in the body size
2. Changes in the body proportion
3. Development of primary sex characteristics
4. Development of secondary sex characteristics
Changes in the size of the body
When puberty starts, there are rapid changes in body shape and appearance. The major change that is visible at puberty is growth - an increase in height and weight. It begins at the age of \(10\) to \(12\) \(years\) in girls and \(12\) to \(13\) \(years\) in boys. It completes at around \(17\) to \(19\) \(years\) in girls and \(19\) to \(20\) \(years\) in boys.
During adolescence, both boys and girls increase around \(23\) to \(26\) \(cm\) in their height. The long bones (bones of arms and legs) elongate or lengthen to make the person tall. At first, the girls grow faster than boys. By about \(18\) years of age, both boys and girls reach their maximum height.
The maximum height of the boys is slightly higher or more than that of girls. The rate of growth in height varies from individual to individual. Some of them grow suddenly at puberty and then slow down. While some of them grow gradually.
Sometimes the arms and legs or the hands and feet of adolescent girls and boys might look oversized and out of proportion with the body. However the other parts then catch up and grow to form a proportionate body. The height of an individual also depends on the genes inherited from their parents.
The adolescents also experience a significant increase in weight. An increase in weight depends on the factors like genetics, diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
The boys and girls of the adolescent phase gain around \(17\) to \(19\) kgs of weight. In boys, generally, there is broadening of the shoulders and chest, and muscles present in the body increase (boys become muscular) due to the growth. In boys, it is more of muscle development.
In the adolescent period, there is an increase in fat that is seen in girls. While in girls, the hip and the region below the waist become wider.
Changes in the body proportion
Certain areas of the body that are proportionately small grow big, which is observed in the feet and hands. During childhood, legs grow proportionately to the trunk (central part of the human body from where neck and limbs extend).
At the time of puberty, the trunk lengthens. Trunk broadens at the hip in girls and at shoulder in boys, which gives the adult proportions to the body.
Growth of the human female and male