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Did you know humans and other animals can reproduce only after a certain age? Though growth begins from the time we are born, certain bodily changes need to occur before we attain reproductive maturity and reproduce. Let’s learn more about what these body changes are and what brings about these changes.
Every child around 11-12 years of age witnesses some changes in their body, which are a part of the growing process. This stage is called adolescence and indicates that you are now on your way to becoming an adult. This phase lasts till you turn 18-19 years and is also called the ‘teenage’. The phase of adolescence occurs in both boys and girls but begins a year or two early in girls.
During the adolescence phase, your body undergoes many different changes– physically and emotionally. These changes mark the onset of puberty. The main goal of puberty is to help you attain reproductive maturity. The stage of puberty ends at 18-19 years of age.
As mentioned earlier, puberty is the beginning of many changes that occur in your body that make you capable of reproduction. Here are the changes that you will notice:
This is one of the foremost and the most conspicuous changes that occur during puberty. Growth in the long bones is seen, and you will grow tall and lanky. While girls begin to grow tall earlier, both sexes attain their maximum height by the age of 18 years.
Boys tend to have broader shoulders, wider chests, and growth in muscles, whereas girls’ bodies begin to curve in certain parts and the region below the waist becomes broader and wider.
In boys, the voice becomes deeper and hoarser due to the development of their voice box, and the voice of girls becomes high-pitched.
You will also notice the increase in sweating, pimples and acne on your skin. This happens due to an increase in the number of sweat or sebaceous glands during puberty.
In boys, male sex organs like penis and testes begin to develop, and the testes begin to produce sperms. In girls, their ovaries begin to mature and release eggs, and they undergo the monthly phenomenon of menstruation, where their uterine lining sheds.
Secondary sexual characters develop to help differentiate between a male and female. In boys, these include hair growth on the chest, face, armpits and public area, deepening of the voice. In girls, enlargement of breasts, growth of public hair, hair under armpits and a high-pitched voice.
Herein lies the question – what triggers these changes at puberty? Well, our body has an endocrine system that releases chemical substances called hormones.
Apart from the testes, ovaries and the pituitary, our body has many other endocrine glands such as the thyroid, adrenal glands and the pancreas.
Just like our body is controlled and managed by hormones, hormones also play a role in the life cycle of animals like insects and frogs. We know that butterflies and frogs undergo metamorphosis to complete their life cycle. Insects secrete hormones to enable metamorphosis, while thyroxine produced by the thyroid is responsible for metamorphosis in frogs. To form and secrete thyroxine, frogs require iodine to be present in the water. So, if the water in which the tadpoles are growing lacks iodine or sufficient iodine, the tadpoles cannot metamorphose into adult frogs!
While adolescence helps us transition from childhood to adulthood, and puberty marks its beginning, the reproductive phase in humans begins from here. The reproductive phase in humans is that phase wherein men and women can produce gametes, and the phase of production and maturation of gametes is longer in males than in females.
In girls, the reproductive phase of life begins at menarche, the first menstrual flow during puberty, and ends at menopause(the stoppage of menstruation) at 40-55 yrs of age. Hormones control the entire reproductive phase in women.
Since adolescence usually begins around 11-12 years and completes around 18-19 years. As it covers the ‘teen’ ending years, it is also called as teenage.
With sudden changes in the body, adolescent boys and girls phase many mental and emotional problems. This is why the teenage or adolescence is a difficult period for both children and parents.
Since adolescence is a phase between childhood and adulthood, the transition is often confusing to the children. The phase many different kinds of emotional problems and are trying to adjust to the changes occurring in the body. It is quite common to see them trying to fit in but finding it difficult to do so. At the same time, parents try their best to help their children through this phase. For these reasons, adolescence is a difficult period.
Pubic hair is a secondary sexual character in both boys and girls. In boys, testosterone is responsible for pubic hair, whereas oestrogen causes the growth of it in girls.
A boy is said to become a man at the end of puberty when he attains reproductive maturity. This occurs around 18-19 years of age.
Puberty for males ends around 18-19 years of age.
Adolescence and puberty are important developmental stages in the life of an individual. While boys and girls undergo different changes during this phase, the ultimate goal is to attain reproductive maturity. At the same time, both the genders need to focus on living healthy in order to maintain good reproductive health.