This Paper illustrates the physiological effects of puberty during adolescence. It gives definitions of puberty and adolescents and tries to correlate the two in checking for the effects on each other. The paper gives the psychological changes brought about by the outward changes of an individual during the growth stage of adolescent. Every person has experienced this occasion of ambiguity known as puberty. It conveys instances of perplexity as adolescents are often trying to comprehend who they are and try to discover an identity. Santos (2007) describes puberty as “a period of quick bodily maturation involving hormonal and physical transformations that occur principally in the onset of adolescence”. This Confusion is frequently an inception owing to physical modifications of the body brought about by hormonal changes. The paper begins with an introduction on the topic to help us truly understand the concept of puberty, adolescence and effects of the latter on the psychological and physiological wellbeing of an adolescent individual. It then gives a vivid description of effects of puberty on adolescents citing few examples and showing some help from literature reviews. The paper then ends with a conclusion with relevant recommendations.
The physiological effects of puberty during adolescence
Puberty is the progression of a series of physical transformations by which a teenager’s body turns into a mature body with an aptitude of reproduction (Cummings et.al, 2002). Puberty is instigated by hormonal indications from the brain regions to the gonads which include the ovaries and testes. In reaction to the gesture, the gonads manufacture an assortment of hormones that arouse the development, function, or stimulation of the brain, and other body organs, like the breasts, and the organs, and tissues like bones, muscle, and blood. Growth hastens in the early stages of puberty and impedes at the conclusion of it. Before puberty, the body disparities between boys and girls are approximately completely confined to the genitalia (2002). During puberty, the chief distinctions of body mass, figure and composition amplify in many body structures. The most noticeable of these are usually known as the secondary sex characteristics (2002).
Puberty is a period of physical and psychological growth highlighting the switch from childhood to adolescence. It usually takes place in a sequence of five phases known as the tanner stages (Wood et.al, 2004).The stages normally commence within the ages of and handle the psychosomatic outcomes of commencement of puberty late. Psychological influence of puberty adolescence is a vital moment for alcohol abuse or used unlawful drugs within puberty can have optimistic or unconstructive consequences on.
The first stage involves the response to the hormones. Once puberty starts, the body initiates production of reproductive hormones (Wood et.al, 2004). Of which, as earlier discussed, are accountable for psychological changes. These changes include mood swings which are frequently seen during this phase of human growth. It is significant to note these hormones generated during puberty, are testosterone in boys, progesterone and estrogen in girls. These hormones are accountable for the abrupt psychology and physical transformations and usually the young children find it complex to handle this unexpected alteration (2004).
The second phase involves a phase that includes mental development. During puberty and adolescence, the brain is also maturing and expanding (woody et.al, 2004). In spite of their propensity toward spontaneity, adolescents have an extra complex capacity to think, reason and figure out views than they were children. Though the brain attains about 90- 95% of its adult volume by ages five to ten, it maintains growth considerably in adolescence. Some of the changes that occur make the brain more capable because the superfluous associations among brain cells are eradicated. Another change is the development of myelin sheaths is completed especially around the nerve endings thus permitting impulses to move quicker in the brain. In addition, functions of the brain become more confined on either the right or the left half of the cerebral cortex. These transformations are reproduced in adolescents’ superior memory and analytical abilities. But as the brain’s effectiveness augments, it drops the capacity of easily taking on fresh functions.
For instance, even though most secondary verbal communication education occurs during adolescence, our brains would in fact be more amenable to knowledge of the material earlier in life (Milam, 2005).
Once the hormones are discharged within the body, physical transformations take place depending on the gender of an individual. The changes take place in both boys and girls but they begin at dissimilar occasions and take place at dissimilar rates (Kelley, 2004). Some people start younger, while some much afterwards. Likewise, in some individuals all the modifications take place within two years, with others taking longer as much as four years. Usually puberty start between the ages of seven and thirteen in girls and nine to fifteen in boys. Puberty is initiated when additional amounts of chemicals known as hormones start to be fabricated in the body. These hormones direct the adjustments that occur in the body. As well as being responsible for physical alterations they also cause emotional changes (2004).
As a young adolescent girl progresses through the phases of puberty, she grows taller and her overall body structure changes. Her upper body appears less flat as her breasts start to develop. The initial sign showing breast growth is when breast buds become conspicuous on her chest (Choudhury, 2006). Some girls discover that their nipples start to tickle or irritate as they develop. These senses usually impede when the breasts stop budding. The Breasts usually develop into a diversity of forms and dimensions. Many girls’ breasts remain small all through their adult lives. Another normal thing is one breast growing quicker than the other, but eventually they become even after attaining full growth (2006). A girl also develops hair beneath her arms and on her legs. As she becomes older, the hair becomes thicker and darker followed by the onset of menstrual periods
When a girl menstruates, some bleeding takes place from her womb. The bleeding lasts for a few days, 2-7, and naturally occurs every month. Most girls have their first menses between the ages of eleven and fourteen. Susman et.al (2003) describes Menstruation as the shedding of the endometrium. It happens on a regular manner in mature females of some mammalian species (2003). Overt menstruation is found chiefly in humans and the closer evolutionary species like chimpanzees and baboons (2003).
As a girl matures into puberty, her body starts producing various hormones that influences her ovaries to mature and start producing eggs. This amounts to the commencement of her primary menstrual cycle (Malians 2004). The hypothalamus, a gland in the brain, liberates the chemical messenger, Follicle Stimulating Hormone Releasing Factor, to tell the pituitary gland in the brain, to secrete Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone into the bloodstream which causes the follicles to commence maturing (2004). This action releases estrogen which causes the wall of the uterus to thicken. This in turns brings about ovulation and if fertilization does not happen, the endometrial lining is released together with blood to form the menstrual flow.
In boys, enlargement of testes is the first physical appearance of puberty. They change a little in size in pre pubescent boys. The Testicular size persists to augment during puberty, attaining maximum size about 6 years from start of puberty. After the adolescent’s testicles have engorged and expanded, the length and the width of the penis shaft increases. This includes the glans and corpora cavernosa (Susman et.al, 2003).
The testes have two principal functions. They produce hormones through The Leydig cells producing testosterone. This in turn generates most of the male pubescent changes. Another function is to produce sperm. Sperm can be noticed in the morning urine after the initial year of pubertal changes (Milam, 2005). The male’s scrotum also becomes bigger and hangs, to put up with the manufacturing of sperm whereby the testicles require a specific temperature to be fertile.
Pubic hair frequently shows on a boy soon after the genitalia begin developing. The pubic hairs are frequently first noticeable at the dorsal base of the penis. They then spread to other regions of the body. Under the influence of androgens, larynx matures making the male voice to deepen. By the conclusion of puberty, adult men have bigger bones and double skeletal muscle.
Mounting levels of androgens can alter the fatty acid composition of sweat, resulting in a more adult like body odor. For girls, androgen can also cause augmented discharge of sebum from the skin resulting in variable amounts of acne (Santos, 2007). Acne goes away with puberty; it is not a permanent condition.
Now that the changes brought about by puberty are discussed in detail, we can now be able to relate them to the psychological wellbeing of the adolescent being discussed. It is very clear that puberty is growth phase thus it cannot be skipped. The changes that it brings along may rapid but unavoidable. It is also widely known that human beings are skeptical to change so these changes could horrific to adolescents. And it is by this notion in which we investigate the reactions adolescents make to cope wit these abrupt changes of their bodies.
According to Masten (2004) Adolescence is an extraordinary era of energetic transformation when an individual shifts from childhood to adulthood. During this change, adolescents must deal with the vivid changes in their bodies, emotions, viewpoints, and their environments. They encounter fresh sexual and belligerent urges, the drive for independence, and the requirements of their peer cluster as they search for developing a stronger sagacity of themselves. They tend to face unusual conditions, stress, challenges, and wants for which they have no preceding structure of orientation and frequently are not completely prepared to tackle successfully. In addition, adolescence is linked to amplified autonomy, reduced scrutiny by adults, and a raised association with peers. This era of dramatic transformation and increasing opportunities may precursor a dangerous pathway until the authoritarian aptitude expands to administer new abilities, opportunities or desires (2004).
That is why adolescence is a point of intensified risk taking, autonomy searching, and testing, although the measure of these behaviors varies extensively among individuals. It is an episode when a desire for escapades, a fondness for perils, craving for thrill, and tendency toward fervent action, appear to reach logically high heights (Dahl and Hariri, 2004). That is alcohol can present an extraordinary attraction to some teenagers for societal, hereditary, psychosomatic, and cultural basis. This hold happens at an occasion adolescents may not be completely ready to expect all the consequences of consumption of alcohol and when they are more susceptible to some of its unpleasant implications. Additional, alcohol has been revealed to damage one’s capability to assess risk and recompense when making choices. Excessive alcohol abuse can lead to unwanted pregnancies and even jailing.
Adolescents are noticeable for their speedy mood swings and common moodiness. Hormones are considered to be partly accountable for these emotional alterations, particularly among younger adolescents. In the early stages in the pubescent course, when the hormonal system is switched on, hormones oscillate swiftly resulting in variable moods. Boys tend to become more bad-tempered, hostile, and spontaneous, whereas girls are inclined to respond with more dispirited moods. This makes then a social misfit at least to other people, non adolescents.
Some changes may make an individual uncomfortable with oneself. For example, in the case of girls, they tend to be uneasy when they have their menstrual periods thus it brings out a big change. When a girl has her first period she might become aware of changes in her body and mood. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is an expression employed to depict the bodily and emotional indications a girl may experience just prior to and throughout her period. For instance, her breasts may be tender, or become bigger, or she may get pimples on her face. She could feel exhausted and find it tough to focus, she could get food desires, or be very moody. This could lead them to be uncomfortable and lowers their self esteem. On the other hand pain from menstrual cramps could be unbearable to them, enough to make them miss classes thus affecting their general school achievements.
As adolescents’ bodies grow during puberty, their sweat glands grow too. These glands are to aid manage the body’s heat resulting in extra sweat being generated. The basics behind this is simple, the rising intensities of androgens can alter the fatty acid component of sweat, ensuing in a different body odor. This physical change of puberty creates a foundation of social humiliation and can amplify thoughts of self-consciousness. This makes the teenagers to over rely on anti-perspirant deodorant for armpits and vaginal deodorant, which may cause irritation.
Another androgen outcome is raised emission of sebum oil from the skin. This alteration augments the vulnerability of the adolescents to acne, a skin state that is a feature of puberty. The physical adjustments cause substantial concern for the young people. It brings issues of self consciousness and many believe they are ugly creating a social barrier among the adolescents.
The issue of timing of the onset of pubertal changes has a great impact on adolescents. Some individuals are early developers while others do that at alter age. Both groups of individuals can feel uncomfortable or unusual, not changing during their peers’ time. The description of the inception of puberty depends on perception and reason. The most frequently used meaning of the commencement of puberty is bodily changes to an individual’s body. The age at which adolescence starts is influenced by both hereditary issues and by ecological factors such as dietary condition and social conditions. An instance of social conditions is the Vandenberg result; an infantile female who has noteworthy dealings with adult males will go through puberty before those females who are not generally overexposed to adult males.
The first noticeable changes that occur are breast expansion, and the commencement of pubic, armpit, and leg hair. The body grows taller, hips get rounder and arms get longer. Overall they become sexually attractive as they become sexually active. For boys the inception of puberty engrosses having erections recurrently even without excitement. Also noticeable, is that most boys have nocturnal discharges known as wet dreams .This happens when they expostulate as they sleep and get a semen ooze (Masten,2007).These changes makes the adolescents sexual active and increases opposite sex attractions towards each other. If not controlled, the above changes can lead to pre marital sex.
From the above discussion it is safe to comment that Puberty generates two problems in one. First, it forms a development problem: how to control the physical changes that are affecting the teenage bodies, the crisis of self-consciousness. And second, it generates a result problem; the dilemma of sex role description.
Opening with the problem of self-consciousness; puberty commences at a bad time during the early adolescent years just after unraveling from the cover of childhood and start searching for social outfits and positions among peers. Feeling uncertainty on the new independence from the parents, puberty shows them how do not have power of their body.
This leads to growth uncertainty which goes hand in hand with early adolescence. For adolescents, puberty is the adversary of self-esteem. It transforms how one looks at a crucial age when physical manifestation is very imperative for social recognition and social status.
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