Puberty is a stage of development of humans as they physically change from children into adults. It is also called sexual maturation, since the purpose of all the changes that take place during puberty is to make an individual able to reproduce sexually. So how does it all work?
Firstly, puberty happens sooner in girls than in boys. On average, girls enter their pubescent stage around age 10-11, while boys start at around 11-12 years of age. At this time, chemical signals called hormones cause our bodies to change in many different ways. Let’s look at girls and boys separately.
Girls to Women
Girls’ bodies begin to change as the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone signal big changes. Most noticeable are increased body hair, the growth of breasts, the enlargement of hips, and of course the maturing of the sexual organs as expressed in menstruation. A woman’s body begins to produce eggs and prepare the womb (the uterus) to carry a baby. Menstruation occurs as the monthly cleansing of the uterus, to ensure that it is safe for the development of a baby should the woman become pregnant.
Boys II Men
Boys find their bodies changing to allow them to build more muscle, and grow body and facial hair. Their voices change and get deeper. Their genitals also grow and receive pubic hair. Young men will find that they start to have regular erections and produce sperm as their sexual organs mature and prepare them to father children.
In both cases, for boys and girls, puberty can be an awkward and difficult time. All these changes to their bodies can be confusing and sometimes cause embarrassment. These new hormones also cause many people to have acne during puberty, which can also be a source of awkwardness. It’s important to remember that puberty is natural. All adults have already gone through it, and all children will in the future!