Puberty

The impacts of puberty

What is puberty?

Puberty is the term that covers a wide range of changes that occur in mammals as they transition from childhood to adulthood. In people, puberty typically starts in girls when they reach the age of 10 or 11. For boys, it occurs a little later, from the age of about 12 on average. The process is started by the release of hormones in the body that cause the sort of physiological changes that differentiate adults from children. Although the process of puberty varies in the length of time it takes to complete, it generally lasts about six years.

 What are puberty changes in males?

 Boys become more virile when puberty takes place. They can expect to put on muscle mass and will undergo certain skeletal changes, which means their bones can cope with the additional strength they will develop. In terms of their sexual organs, these will mature, leading to the ability to produce sperm and to ejaculate. Hair will typically start to grow in greater mass around the sexual organs and under the armpits. Boys also tend to develop more hair on their arms, legs and chest while growing facial hair for the first time. Boys' voices crack during this time, too, and they develop a deeper voice and an Adam's apple, as a result.

What are puberty changed in females?

One of the first physical changes that occur in girls is that they start to develop breasts, beginning with a tender mass under the areola that continues to grow throughout adolescence. Girls also develop more hair, notably around their labia and, later, on their pubic mound. Further hair growth can be expected under the armpits. Girls also have a skeletal alteration that means their pelvis and hips widen. Furthermore, the uterus and ovaries will enlarge, and girls will start to menstruate as they become sexually mature and fertile.

What are puberty blockers?

Otherwise known as inhibitors, puberty blockers are hormonal treatments that delay the onset of maturation indefinitely. They were initially developed to assist children who became pubescent at an early stage. However, these days, such hormonal blockers tend to be used to support transgender children. By doing so, they can defer their development into a physically mature adult with the idea being that they consequently get more time to work out their gender identity.

How does puberty affect the brain?

Because puberty is essentially a hormonal process, some effects are felt in the brain. As boys get more testosterone during puberty, their behaviour can alter. This is sometimes demonstrated in greater boisterousness and displays of physicality. Throughout adolescence, the brain structure develops in a myriad of ways. What is less clear, however, is the degree to which these changes would occur anyway and how much puberty itself is responsible for them. Due to girls beginning puberty earlier, their frontal lobes develop more mass at an earlier stage than boys on average.

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A social movement, body positivity is promoted as a way to celebrate the great diversity of the physical forms of human beings. According to the movement, too much emphasis – especially in the arts and the media – is placed on only certain body shapes with under-representation among short people, obese people, people with disfigurements, disabled people and people with skin imperfections, such as birthmarks, for example. The basic idea is that by only praising – or even being able to see – images of so-called beautiful individuals, it creates a social norm that is unrealistic. In some cases, people even claim that such images can lead to certain psychological disorders, such as anorexia, for example. By embracing body positivity among all body types, on the other hand, society should become more accepting of its diversity, something that can have a knock-on effect in terms of mental well-being.
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