Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by glands and have specific target organs.
In this lesson, you will learn about hormones that stimulate changes to your body during puberty.
Puberty is the timeframe when secondary sexual characteristics develop – in other words, when a boy matures physically to a man, and a girl to a woman.
In males, your testes secrete a hormone called testosterone, also known as the male hormone. Testosterone stimulates a wide variety of physiological changes, including increased body hair (especially on your face and in your armpits), more muscle mass, and your voice deepening. As well, testosterone also stimulates sperm cell production in your testes.
In females, the hormone responsible for physical changes during puberty is oestrogen, also known as the female hormone. It is secreted by your ovaries and is responsible for some body hair growth, widening of the hips, and development of breasts. Oestrogen also plays an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle, as described in more detail in another lesson. It thickens the uterus lining in anticipation of ovulation, which is the release of a mature egg from an ovary. In addition, oestrogen stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete the luteinising hormone, which is directly responsible for ovulation. Progesterone is another hormone secreted by your ovaries, and works to maintain the uterus lining thickened by oestrogen. This continues to occur even during pregnancy, so to support the growing foetus. In conclusion, the development of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty is stimulated by testosterone in males, and oestrogen in females. Oestrogen and progesterone are important hormones in regulating the menstrual cycle in females.
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