Reaching the Age of Adolescence
‘Growing up’ is a natural process. Puberty is defined as the period of life when the body undergoes changes, attaining reproductive maturity.
Beginning around the age of 11, adolescence lasts up to age 18 or 19. Teenage period may vary from person to person. And also, adolescence, in girls, might start a year or two earlier than in boys.
Human body undergoes several changes during ‘puberty’. They mark the beginning of puberty. Boys and girls attain the ability to reproduce during this period. Puberty terminates, as the teenager reaches reproductive maturity.
Changes at Puberty
- Sudden increase in height is among the most common changes during puberty.
- A boy’s body tends to get more muscular. His shoulders grow wide and waist narrows. Girls too undergo changes in their body.
- Boy’s voice turns deep during puberty. The childlike voice gets replaced by a hoarse voice. They say the voice is ‘cracking’. During puberty, a boy’s voice box gets bigger. The voices of girls are usually high pitched.
- Increase in sebaceous glands and sweat production is another feature. Teenagers suffer from acne and pimples.
- Development of sex organs is yet another feature of puberty. While testis produce sperms in boys; ovaries grow larger in girls and eggs start maturing.
- The changes in the bodies of children during this period will have a profound impact on their thinking. Some of them may feel insecure, but it will disappear with time.
- The expansion of the voice box which will be evident as a significant protrusion in the neck is known as Adam’s apple.
- The traits which occur in humans during adolescence are known as secondary sexual characters. They help in differentiating male from females.
- Secondary sexual characteristics in male include growth of body hair, chest hair, pubic hair and facial hair.
- Muscle mass and strength increase in males. Meanwhile,their body fat percentage comes down.
- Growth of body hair, widening of hips, and enlargement of breasts are among the secondary sexual characteristics in females.
Hormones are basically responsible for changes which occur during puberty. Male hormone or testosterone is released by testes at the onset of puberty.
Growth of facial hair is a change in boys which occurs during puberty. As girls reach puberty, female hormone or estrogen is produced.
Mammary glands help in the secretion of milk. Pituitary gland secretes hormones as well.
Role of Hormones in Reproduction
Basically, ovaries and testes are responsible for secreting sex hormones. The pituitary gland regulates sex hormones. Meanwhile, ova matures in ovaries and sperm in the testes.
Reproductive Phase of Life
Once their testes and ovaries start producing gametes, adolescents turn fit for reproduction. Ability to produce gametes lasts longer in males. Usually, the reproductive phase of females begins at puberty (10-12 years old), it lasts until the age of 45-50 years.
In females, as the ovum matures, it is released once in about 28 to 30 days. During this period, the wall of the uterus becomes thick for receiving the egg. In case it is fertilized, it might end up in pregnancy.
In case fertilization does not take place, the released egg, thickened lining of uterus and blood vessels are discarded. This triggers bleeding in women, which is known as menstruation. The first menstrual flow which starts in puberty is known as menarche.
The menstrual cycle in women usually stops at the age of 45 to 50. The process is known as menopause.
In this article , we have discussed the characteristics of adolescence.