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What Is Second Puberty? When It Occurs and How to Get Ready for It

Second puberty is a slang term that people use to describe changes that happen to the body at different ages. It’s not a real puberty as in the development of sexual maturity but rather a way to describe the various physical and emotional symptoms that can occur with age. This  can happen in your 20s, 30s, and 40s and throughout your life.

Second puberty in your 20s 

Your 20s can be a significant time. People in their 20s are often trying to navigate through their personal and social lives. That’s why it’s easy to overlook the physical changes the body is going through. Sometimes, these changes are called a second puberty. 

Some of these changes may include things like:

  • Psychological and emotional changes — Many people at this age start to live an independent life and might experience new challenges in their social and personal spheres. The adjustment period can take some time, and some symptoms of anxiety or depression may appear as a natural reaction to this new phase of life.
  • Bone mass and muscle strength peak — Changes in bone mass and muscle strength can appear in your 20s. Bone mass and strength tend to reach their maximum at this age. 
  • Weight — Some people notice changes in their weight in their 20s. You can consult with a health care provider to determine a healthy weight range for you. 
  • Stretch marks — Some people in their 20s notice lines and stretch marks, which is a natural part of growth. Make sure to drink plenty of water for the elasticity and health of your skin.
  • Acne — Some people notice that they have more acne than usual. The American Academy of Dermatology found that 45 percent of females between the ages of 21 and 26 experience adult acne. This happens due to changes in hormones, stress, smoking, alcohol use and/or poor eating habits. This can also occur as a result of medications such as hormonal birth control.

Second puberty in your 30s 

Emotional and psychological adjustments and the peak of physical capabilities are all part of a second puberty in your 20s. But your 30s can also bring some physical changes. 

Here are some changes that can be attributed to a second puberty in your 30s: 

  • Bone and muscle mass changes — Bone and muscle mass naturally begin to decrease in your 30s, resulting in bodily changes to one’s figure and shape.
  • Changes in skin and hair — Due to the loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles may start to become noticeable. During this period, some people also find their first gray hair. These changes are part of the body’s aging processes and are absolutely normal.  
  • Changes in metabolism — At this time, metabolism is usually slowing, which can cause some weight gain and additional changes in body shape.
  • Fertility Fertility will often start to decline during your 30s. This means that the chances of getting pregnant after 35 are lower than in your 20s but still greater than in your 40s.

Second puberty in your 40s

The body goes through major changes in your late 40s and the beginning of your 50s. Somewhere around this age, many people begin menopause, which is a natural aging process. With age sometimes comes weight gain, hot flashes, fatigue, and achy joints and muscles.

These are some of the signs of menopause:

  • Height — On average, people in their late 40s tend to lose one to two inches in height. Most of the loss occurs in the spine as the disks between vertebrae wear out and shrink.
  • Teeth — With proper dental care, teeth can last a lifetime. Nevertheless, teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures with age. Tooth decay, gum disease, and discoloration of teeth are also likely to occur with age.
  • Menopause — For most people, periods tend to stop at an average age of 52, but the age of natural menopause can vary widely, from 40 to 58 years. Menopause between 40 and 45 years of age is considered to be early. About five percent of females experience early menopause. People with health conditions such as cancer survivors or those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may experience menopause earlier. Menopause is sometimes thought to be a calmer phase of life. One study discovered that mood scores steadily improve with age.
  • Periods — Irregular menstrual cycles are common approaching menopause. Periods can become irregular and heavy. For most people, periods do not stop abruptly but taper off with either lighter bleeding or heavier bleeding. Menopause is said to be complete when one year has passed with no periods or spotting. Periods typically stop completely within about four years. 
  • Hot flashes — Seventy-five percent of people experience hot flashes during menopause. They can happen during the day or at night, but healthy habits can help alleviate them. 
  • More rapid bone loss — Reduced levels of estrogen can lower the amount of calcium in bones, so bone density decreases more quickly. That’s why it’s important to eat a balanced diet and to have bone density testing. 
  • Changes in sex drive — Some people find that their hormone levels start to decline with age, which can lead to a reduced sex drive and vaginal dryness. This can be alleviated with topical ointments or other treatments. Talk to your health care provider about options that are right for you. 

Some of the symptoms associated with the menopausal transition can be severe and can interfere with daily life. In such cases, hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed. Although it may be quite effective, such treatment has contraindications and side effects, and it must be taken in consultation with a health care provider. A health care provider can review the potential benefits and harms of hormone therapy based on your personal and family health history.

Second puberty in transgender people

Changes that occur in a second puberty for transgender people depend on gender affirming  surgical and hormonal treatments. Gender affirming hormone treatment can cause physical and emotional changes similar to traditional adolescent puberty. 

This is what some transgender women experience when receiving hormone therapy: 

  • Breast development — Breast development can take anywhere from a few years to a decade. 
  • Skin changes — Skin often becomes softer and more susceptible to irritation. It will also become slightly lighter in color because of a decrease in melanin.
  • Hair changes — Slower growth of body hair is also typical, as well as body hair that is sparser and less dense. 
  • Fat changes — The body will start to accumulate fat in a different pattern and different areas. Fat may start to accumulate more in the hips, thighs, buttocks, pubis, upper arms, and breasts.
  • Mood changes — Mood changes are also normal with any exogenous hormone treatment. Make sure to talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns.

Many transgender women are taking these hormones for the rest of their lives or at least for many years. These changes typically occur in the beginning of the treatment, but slowly become less pronounced over time.

If a transgender man receives hormone therapy, they might experience the following: 

  • Body changes — Muscle growth and body shape can change into a more masculine physique.
  • Skin changes — Skin can become thicker or more oily on hormone treatment. Acne is very common. Sometimes, stretch marks can also appear.
  • Hair growth — Increased hair growth on the face and body can be common. Hair loss on the head, or balding, may occur. Hair structure can also change under hormonal influence.
  • Voice — Testosterone treatment can make the voice sound different.
  • Menstruation — Periods will likely cease, but pregnancy can still be possible. It’s important for people on testosterone who wish to avoid pregnancy, to discuss birth control with a health care provider. People who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant would need to stop taking hormones.

How to prepare for second puberty 

Here are some things to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle during a second puberty:

  • Healthy diet — A healthy diet should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and starches, good fats, and lean proteins. Eating healthy can help maintain a balanced weight, prevent osteoporosis, and improve mood and gut health. A healthy diet can result in improved mental health, stronger muscles and bones, and healthy skin. 
  • Exercise — Getting plenty of exercise is essential when experiencing age associated changes. This might include walking, jogging, dancing, pilates, yoga, and swimming. Some people with osteopenia (“low bone density”) may benefit from weight bearing exercise.
  • Skin renewal — Health care providers can prescribe retinoid creams and emollients to treat damaged skin. 
  • Hair care — Over-the-counter treatments may help stimulate hair growth.
  • Restful sleep — Stick to a regular schedule of bedtimes and waking times. 
  • Multivitamins — Talk to your health care provider about whether you need to take multivitamins. They can provide the body with any essential nutrients that might be missing.

The human body constantly goes through changes that can be surprising. Sometimes these changes are known as a second puberty. It can happen in your 20s, 30s, and your 40s and throughout your lifetime. Knowing what to expect as the body ages can help make a second puberty much easier to manage.

“Adult Acne.” American Academy of Dermatology, www.aad.org/media/news-releases/hormonal-factors-key-to-understanding-acne-in-women.

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“Menopause, Perimenopause and Postmenopause.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10091-menopause--osteoporosis.

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