Puberty in Boys and Girls

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 31, 2013

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From birth to old age a person’s body changes constantly. Growth and development in puberty consists of not only physical changes, but changes in emotions, personality, behavior, thinking, and speech as well. In other words, your boy or girl is a child before puberty and by the end of puberty he or she becomes an adolescent. During these years they are expected to ‘mature’ or change from thinking, feeling, adjusting and acting like a child to ways of a grown up.


Puberty in females can start from ages of 9 and 14 and in males between the ages of 10 to 17 years. Physical appearance of both boys and girls changes during puberty and each develops stronger sexual characteristics. The change of puberty can take from one to six years. This is a general time frame which can vary and every child follows a unique, individual path. The period of adolescence can be a difficult time due to the physical and emotional changes. The hormonal changes that occur in adolescence can cause socio-emotional effects such as tension, restlessness, moodiness, withdrawal, irritability and concerns about peers, relationships.


Changing behavior of the adolescents can become a cause of concern for parents. Some common adolescent behavior which can cause concern for a parent include-- risk-taking behavior, mood fluctuations, drug experimentation, sexual activity, rebelliousness, and school problems. Talk to your child about the changes that they would be experiencing during puberty and stress on the fact that these changes are normal and natural which take place in every individual. This can help to make the transition from childhood to adolescence a much less stressful period.


Changes of puberty

Puberty occurs due to maturation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. As a result of this maturation hormonal changes take place in the body. The brain releases chemical that stimulate the ovaries and testes to produce the female and the male hormones. As a result of this the ovaries of girls secrete the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and the testes of boys secrete testosterone.


Secretion of growth hormones from the pituitary gland is also stimulated. This leads to growth spurt and the height and weight increases. At the end of puberty the adolescent reach their adult height. During puberty besides the increase in height and weight, the overall body shape changes.


The changes that occur in a girl during puberty;

  • They become curvier and the overall fat content of the body increases.
  • Breasts start to develop
  • Hips widen---girls even during childhood have wider hips as compared to boys and this difference becomes more evident in adolescence.
  • The waist narrows due to more deposition of fat on the hips under the influence of these hormones.
  • Hair grow in the pubic area, underarm and leg
  • Menstruation starts
  • Hair and skin may turn oily,
  • rapid increase in height or growth spurt (girls in general reach their adult height by about 16 years of age)


The changes that occur in a boy during puberty;

  • Growth of hair on face, body, pubic area, and underarm
  • Overall physical growth-- boys develop more muscle tissues, thicker as well as larger bones and broader shoulders 
  • Increase in size or growth of the penis, testes and scrotum.
  • Start having spontaneous nocturnal emission
  • Deepening of voice. Initially the voice develops sudden uncontrollable cracks while speaking.
  • rapid increase in height or growth spurt (boys in general reach their adult height by about 18 years of age)


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