Puberty and Sex Hormones and Their Effect on Your Body
For every boy and girl, there comes a time just before or early into their teen years when they experience a major change in their body’s natural chemistry. This change is caused by a surge of hormones – sex hormones to be specific.
Sex hormones are produced in minuscule amounts in early childhood and have very little activity until puberty. In most cases puberty starts when a child is 11 to 13 years old. The actual age is determined by one’s genetic makeup and heredity.
Regardless of when it happens, puberty causes the sex glands (ovaries in girls, testes in boys) and the adrenals in both sexes to manufacture and release into the blood large quantities of sex hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone flood the system, which causes rapid transformation of a child into a young woman or a young man.
Girls start developing a clearly feminine form, with the appearance of breasts, pubic and armpit hair, and a female hour-glass figure. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone become high enough, a girl will ovulate and get her first period. This flood of hormones causes mental and emotional changes as well. I am sure you are familiar with the rapid mood swings and short tempers teenagers can have. But most importantly, high levels of hormones are responsible for the glowing health and boundless energy that most teenagers enjoy. They can eat an incredible amount of junk food and not gain an ounce. They can go without much sleep for days. They hardly get sick and if they do, their recoveries are usually speedy and complete. They tend to have a positive and optimistic outlook on life.
The sex hormones have a stimulating effect on energy production, causing the cells to burn more fuel at a greater rate. This is why teenagers have such a high metabolic rate, which allows them to consume a lot of food, seemingly without any consequences. In general, high levels of sex hormones have nothing but positive effects on the health and well-being of kids going through puberty.
While estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are known as the sex hormones, they are not fully intended for the purposes of sex, especially since teens are not prepared emotionally and financially for handling reproductive responsibilities. As we grow, these hormones take on a vital role in the proper development and regulation of the body’s essential functions, especially in women.