Puberty: Puberty Disorders, Changes and Transition

By Dr. Tushar Maniar in Centre for Child Health

Apr 24 , 2023 | 2 min read

What is puberty?

Puberty is a term for the changes the body goes through during the preteen and teen years (Adolescence). It refers to the physical transitions that occur during adolescence. Adolescents also experience cognitive maturation and psychosocial maturation.

The most visible changes during puberty are growing in stature and the development of secondary sex characteristics. An equally profound change in body composition; achievement of fertility; and changes in most body systems (such as bone, with increased growth and mineralization), brain development, and the cardiovascular system (with greater aerobic power reserve, electrocardiographic changes, and blood pressure changes). The biggest changes during puberty are that boys' and girls' bodies grow taller and become more like adult bodies.

Puberty Causes

Puberty is caused by hormones in the body. These hormones come from the brain as well as organs called the ovaries (in girls) and the testicles (in boys) . The ovaries make a hormone called "estrogen." The testicles make a hormone called "testosterone." Estrogen and testosterone cause many changes in the body.

When Puberty Start

Puberty starts at different times in different children. Girls usually start puberty between ages 9 and 12. Boys usually start puberty between the ages of 10 and 13. But it can be normal for children to start puberty before or after these ages. The exact time a child starts puberty depends on different factors, including his or her genes, nutrition, and weight.

Puberty Complications

Pubertal problems like early or delayed puberty can be a concern . Apart from this many girls have issues with menstruation like period pains, heavy bleeding, etc. Puberty is associated with a number of complications that present challenges to the patient and family. These health concerns include anemia, gynecomastia, acne, psychological correlates of puberty, and abnormal uterine bleeding.

Puberty Needs Parental Support

Having an adolescent often brings up parents' uncomfortable memories of going through puberty themselves. Fortunately, education and support for adolescents during this period of life are becoming increasingly common. But adolescents still need parental guidance about what to expect and assurance that everyone goes through similar changes during puberty. When a teen is given encouragement, puberty can be a creative and affirming time of life.

It's helpful to talk to your child before puberty starts. Let him or her know what body changes to expect and that these changes are normal.

Adolescents are usually very aware of how their development compares to that of their friends. Any development that varies significantly from the norm can be a source of great anxiety along with social and emotional struggles.

Timely treatment of pubertal issues is important. Treatment may include observation and regular checkups cases where the disorder will likely resolve on its own, drug therapy, and counseling which helps children and families deal with the emotional and social challenges of disorders of puberty.

Treatment depends on the individual, their symptoms, and the underlying cause of the puberty disorder. An adolescent health specialist can offer guidance and treatment to tide over this important transition in a child’s life.

Medically Reviewed

Dr. Tushar H Maniar (Head Of Department - Child Health)

Dr. Tushar H Maniar is Head of the Department, of Child Health and an experience of over 32 years in the field of Paediatrics and Neonatology. He specializes in Paediatric and Neonatal Infectious Diseases, Infant & Child nutrition, and Growth & Development Evaluation among others. He has secured an MD in Paediatrics from Seth G.S.Medical College and Diploma in Child Health( D.C.H.) from the CPS, Mumbai.