Font Size


Puberty Overview

Adolescence is characterized by profound changes in several areas. The maturation of intellectual thought, substantial psychosocial development, and a series of physical changes that reflect neurological and endocrinological processes are intertwined in the process summarized as puberty.

The cognitive changes that become obvious during puberty continue on into young adulthood. Observations by specialists point out that the acquisition of operational thought (ability to think abstractly) is able to be correlated to physical changes in the prefrontal cortex of the brain -- that region in the front of the brain responsible for judgment, impulse control, delayed gratification, and interpretation of subtle visual facial signals necessary for mature social interaction.

The most obvious physical changes during puberty reflect the influence of powerful hormones. The attainment of adult secondary sexual characteristics (breast maturation, testicular and penile maturation, and pubertal hair), body composition changes, and attainment of fertility are all easily noticed. Less obvious but equally important are changes in cardiovascular function, muscle bulk and strength, and bone density.

This article is designed to provide an overview of the events of puberty, both biological and psychological. In addition, common issues and problems that occur during this period of life will be briefly reviewed. Abnormalities of pubertal development, including premature puberty and delay of the onset of puberty, are reviewed in other articles.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2014

Must Read Articles Related to Puberty

Acne Acne is a red skin rash caused by several factors, including hormones and bacteria. Treatment involves washing skin with a mild cleanser once or twice daily, ap...learn more >>
Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual Pain Menstrual cramps are either classified as primary dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) in which there is no anatomical cause for the pain. Secondary dysmenorrhea...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Puberty:

Puberty - Patient Experience

Did you or your child experience pitfalls during puberty? Please describe your experience.

Medical Dictionary