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Puberty (cont.)

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Psychological Issues

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

The highest incidence of STDs occurs in sexually active teens. Biological reasons for this epidemic include an earlier age of menarche coupled with the relative lack of maturation of the lining tissues of the cervix during the first one to two years following menarche. This immaturity makes infection with Chlamydia and human papillomavirus (HPV) more likely. Behavioral issues associated with the high rate of STDs in teens include an earlier age of first intercourse and a false perception of invincibility ("It won't happen to me").

Psychological issues

The attainment of puberty has been observed to coincide with many profound psychological changes. It is important to realize that the refinement of abstract thought (for example, ability to intellectually explore various possible behaviors and anticipate realistic consequences) takes place in late puberty and extends into young adulthood (18-25 years old). The incidence of depression also rises during the teen years -- more frequently in females than males. Some studies have indicated that boys tend to develop a stronger self-image as puberty advances; females are thought to have a more self-critical body-image perception during early and mid puberty. Racial background studies indicate this self-depreciating phenomenon is more likely in Caucasian vs. African-American females. Girls who start puberty earlier than their peers appear to have a more stressful entry into this time of their life and are noted to have a higher likelihood of disruptive behaviors and possibly suicide attempts. Boys who are "late bloomers" are more likely to have issues with internalization and suppression of their feelings and may develop a stronger emotional reliance on others.

Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; American Board of Pediatrics


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2014

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