Puberty – The Journey to Adulthood Begins

keep-calm-it-s-only-puberty-2Without a doubt one of the most tumultuous times in a family’s life is when that little monster or angel of yours starts to become a lot more like you. For some the change is fun and exciting, for others it strikes fear into your very being.

There are a lot of misconceptions that we hear as GP’s so I thought id share some general information on puberty.

First thing that needs to be mentioned is that puberty refers to the physical and emotional changes that take place in adolescence. The whole journey begins when the brain sends a signal to either the ovaries or testes and the childs adrenal glands. This signal begins the production of sex hormones that will change your child’s body forever.

There is really no set age which puberty begins, but generally females will start puberty around the age of 10 and boys around the age of 11.  things can begin a year or two either way.

While the age of puberty onset is the different the process of change is usually the same.

In females, breast budding is usually the 1st sign of puberty followed by pubic hair. When this happens girls will usually start to get taller and will have their first period around the age of 12 or 13 (but can be earlier or later). You may notice some increased fat on your little one, this is all normal, it’s an energy source that is necessary for her cycles to function.

Boys usually begin puberty a few years later and their development begins with the enlargement of their testes. This is usually followed by an increase in muscle and height, a deepening of their voice and an increase in body hair growth.

Of course there are children who fall outside the normal puberty process. These children often need expert help and the involvement of a pediatric endocrinologist.

One final note, it’s definitely better to discuss these changes with your child, even before they happen. It can be a very scary time for everyone involved. If your embarrassed to have the talk, get your family doctor to plant the seeds and you take the conversation from there.

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