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Roles of Hormones at Puberty
Puberty refers to the period at which growing boys and girls undergo sexual maturation. Generally, this process starts at the age of 12 among girls, and 14 among their male counterparts (Stoppler, 2015). Though the occurrence of this process involves a series of physical or biological transformations among the adolescents, the process also have a great effect on the emotional and psychosocial development of these individuals.
The initiation of puberty and the role that hormones play during this period
The ignition of puberty among boys and girls cannot be anticipated since this process is influenced by a myriad of factors such as diet, genetic factors, gender, hormones, among others. however, hormones contributes greatly to the initiation of this process. For example, leptin hormone, produced by adipocytes (fat cells), is believed to have great influence to the activity of hypothalamus (part of the barin that releases Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH)). The release of this hormone (GnRH) stimulates the pituitary gland to release Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) AND Leutinizing Hormone (LH) (Stoppler, 2015). The secretion of these two hormones marks the onset of puberty among the adolescents. The two hormones, together with other hormones contributes to the onset of menstruation, growth of pubic hair, enlargement of breasts and increase of body fats among the girls, and enlargement of testicles and penis, growth of pubic hair, deepening of voice, increase of muscles, and growth of beads among the boys.
Menstrual cycle and the role of hormones involved
Menstrual cycle refers to a complex cycle that takes place in the reproductive system of women. On average, this cycle takes 28 days, and involves a series of four main phases, the menstruation, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases. The menstruation phase involves the elimination of menstrual blood (menses) from the uterus to the vaginal opening. The menses is made up of endometrial cells, blood, and mucus, and lasts for a period of 3-7 days. This phase marks the start of the menstrual cycle, and occurs due to low levels of progesterone, which results after the withering and dying of corpus luteum. This phase is followed by the Follicular phase. During this phase, the GnRH that is released by the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone. FSH stimulates the two ovaries to produce 5-20 follicles. Each follicle contains an immature egg, but only a single follicle matures into an egg (ovum). The growth of follicles stimulates the production of estrogen hormone, which contributes to the proliferation of the endometrium, as a preparation for possible pregnancy. This phase commences when menstruation starts, and ends with ovulation (Better Health Channel, 2015).
The ovulation phase involves the release of the ovum from the ovary to the uterus through the fallopian tube (ovulation). Nevertheless, this process is triggered by high levels of luteinizing hormone, which is released when pituitary glands are stimulated by the increased concentration of estrogen hormone. This phase lasts for 24 hours. in the luteal phase, the follicle that ruptured after releasing the ovum in the ovary changes to corpus luteum, and starts to release progesterone and estrogen hormones. These two hormones propagate the thickening of the endometrium, waiting for the fertilized ovum to stick. If implantation occurs, it results in the production of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) hormone that maintains the corpus luteum (Better Health Channel, 2015). If implantation does not occur, the corpus luteum withers and finally dies.
Comparison between hormones relevant to the menstrual cycle and menopause
Both menstrual cycle and menopause are controlled by estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing and the follicle-stimulating hormones. However, during menstrual cycle, all these hormones are released in a balanced manner while in menopause; these hormones are not balanced (Coney & Lucidi, 2014).
In most cases, menopause occurs at the age of 41-50 years. A woman`s body undergoes various changes in preparation to this condition. For example, a woman starts to experience irregular menstruation, mood swings, loss of bone density, changes in libido, vaginal and skin dryness, and redistribution of fats from the thighs and hips to the abdominal area, among others (Coney & Lucidi, 2014).
Though tanner staging has been used to predict the time when girls and boys should expect changes as a result of puberty, the modern generation is maturing faster than before. This is due to the fact that these girls and boys are taking numerous diets that promotes faster developments, especially those foods that are genetically modified (GMOs). Therefore, it is becoming hard nowadays to predict the time when puberty would start among the modern generation.
Better Health Channel, (2015). Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle. Retrieved from, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/menstrual_cycle
Coney, P., and Lucidi, R., (2014). Menopause. Retrieved from, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/264088-overview
Stoppler, M., (2015). Puberty. Retrieved from, http://www.medicinenet.com/puberty/article.htm