Why is everyone talking about second puberty and what actually is it?

·2-min read
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images

If you've been on Twitter at all in the last few days, for even like, a minute, you'll have noticed the increasing conversation around 'second puberty.' The term first started trending on the social media platform last week, and mentions of second puberty have been growing ever since.

Naturally, the internet has been collectively losing their minds over the idea. Which is understandable, considering how rough the first puberty was. "YO WHAT THE F**K IS SECOND PUBERTY," said one panicked Twitter user, while another added "This second puberty is whooping my ass." Someone else tweeted: "'What part of adult life surprised you most?' Second puberty."

But, amidst all the talk (read: chaos) on Twitter about this so-called second puberty, people seem to have forgotten everything they learned in Year 7 science class. And let me tell you, second puberty is absolutely not on the curriculum.

"It is not scientifically correct that women or men go through a 'second puberty'," explains Dr. Helen O'Neill, founder and CEO of Hertility Health. "Second puberty is a slang term to refer to physical and psychological changes during different stages of life post-adolescence," she adds, "They [the changes] aren’t restricted to the 20s, and people may continue experiencing them till later on in life, such as during the transition to menopause."

Dr Verity Biggs, a GP specialising in women's health agrees. "There is only one puberty in our teens, so the idea of a second puberty is not scientifically correct," she points out. Dr Biggs explains that for girls, teenage puberty is about "readying our bodies for womanhood, and ultimately, reproduction." During this time our hormones change, causing our hair and breasts to develop, our hips to widen and our period to begin.

Photo credit: Ashley Armitage / Refinery29 for Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ashley Armitage / Refinery29 for Getty Images - Getty Images

As for what we can expect during what Twitter has defined as second puberty, Dr O'Neill says there's a "range of physical, emotional and societal changes." According to Dr O'Neill, these changes include mood fluctuations (due to our menstrual cycles) and changes to our appearance (like our weight and skin). "You cannot stop these changes from happening, they are a normal part of ageing," she highlights.

"Men experience similar changes," the Hertility Health founder adds, "but these might be less pronounced because they do not experience such drastic changes in hormone levels."

While there's no scientific evidence to back up the idea of a second puberty, Dr O'Neill points out that "for someone transitioning, second puberty could be referring to changes they experience during their gender affirming journey, either due to hormonal therapy, surgery or a combination of both."

So, there we have it. Second puberty panic averted.

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