Normal Puberty

1. What is Puberty?

Puberty is the sequence of physical, sexual, physiological and psychological changes that take place at adolescence which brings one to adulthood. Most of the time it is the sexual maturity which takes the forefront but all the changes needs due attention because this is the time when one moves from parental control to personal control.

2. What happens when one enters puberty?

Puberty heralds sequential changes in the body. Different organs concerned with the sexual maturity develop at different times. In the girls the first sign is development of breast which is called as thelarchae in medical parlance. In the boys the testes enlarge first. From here onwards there is an orderly fashion of development in which the breast size progressively increases in girls while the testes and the penis increase in boys. This march is regulated by the interplay between the hormones produced by the thalamus, pituitary and ovaries/testes. They are called as GnRH, FSH & LH and estrogen/testosterone respectively. In both the sexes the hair in the armpit and around the pubis increases in thickness and darkens in colour. The doctors can determine the stage of puberty by noticing the growth of the breast or testes and amount of hair in the armpit and around the pubis. Another important change that is noticed is sudden increase in the height of both boys and girls. This is called pubertal growth spurt.

normal_puberty

3. What is the normal age of entry into puberty?

While girls enter the puberty at an average age of 10-12 yrs the boys do so when they are around 12-14 years. Certain feature like genes, race, weight gain and overall nutrition determine the age of onset of puberty.

The completion of maturation process is rather wide, it may take 4 to 6 years.

This article is prepared by Dr Rajiv Joshi
(rajeev_jsh@yahoo.co.in) and Dr A Bhattacharyya
(Arpan@DiabetesEndocrinology.in)