is a physical change; the child’s body matures and becomes capable of reproduction. Puberty is also an indication of the beginning of adolescence. In both boys and girls puberty is marked by secondary sexual characteristics (breasts, pubic hair, facial hair, axillary hair and development of external genitalia).
Females reach puberty between the ages of 10 and 14 and is usually 1 1/2 to 2 years before males. The onset of puberty in males is from 12 to 16 years of age. On the average, once puberty begins it is usually complete within 3 years.
Puberty is triggered by hormones. The maturation process of hormones involve highly complex interactions between parts of the brain and the reproductive organs.
The hypothalamus in the brain produces a
follicle-stimulating hormone releasing factor
(FSHRF) and a luteinizing hormone-releasing factor (LHRF). These substances cause the pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In the female, LH controls the production of estrogen, a female sex hormone, ovulation, and the production of progesterone, a sex hormone. FSH controls the maturation of ova. In males FSH controls spermatogenesis, the process responsible for the production of sperm. LH stimulates other testicular cells to produce testosterone, a male sex hormone.
Hormonal shifts trigger behavioral changes. The child may experience moodiness or depression. As secondary sex characteristics begin to develop the child may feel ambivalent about the body transforming into that of an adult.
Effects of Testosterone at Puberty
Growth of pubic hair
Growth of facial hair
Deepening of voice
Effects of Estradiol at Puberty
Distribution of body fat
Distribution of body hair