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What Is Second Puberty, When Does It Come, and How Do You Get Ready for It?

Contrary to popular belief, second puberty is a real thing. It comes unannounced and brings challenging physical and emotional symptoms. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen during your 20s; it can also happen in your 30s or 40s.
A woman going through a second puberty

Second puberty in your 20s 

Your 20s can be an overwhelming time. You’re trying to navigate through your first job, internship, rent, and car payments. That’s why it’s easy to overlook the physical changes your body is going through. These changes are known as your second puberty. 

You will start to notice things like:

  • Lines and marks: You might notice lines and marks on your body. Make sure to drink plenty of water and consult with your doctor about treatment if the lines or marks make you uncomfortable.
  • Weight: You might notice changes in your weight. Your doctor can tell you what a healthy weight for you is and help you make any diet or exercise changes necessary to achieve it. 
  • Loss of bone and muscle: The loss of bone and muscle begins in your second puberty. This process slows down your metabolism and can cause weight gain. You can increase your exercise, focusing on weight training, to help combat this process.  
  • Cramps: Hormones undergo major changes during your 20s, and these changes can cause excruciatingly painful cramps.
  • Acne: During your second puberty, you might notice that you have more acne than usual. The American Academy of Dermatology found that 45 percent of women between the ages of 21 and 26 experience adult acne. It happens due to a change in hormones, stress, smoking, and/or poor eating habits.

Second puberty in your 30s 

Acne, painful cramps, and slower metabolism are all part of second puberty in your 20s. But your 30s can also bring some surprising physical and mental changes. 

This is what you should expect during your second puberty in your 30s: 

  • Fertility: Your fertility will start to drop during your second puberty. Fertility declines more rapidly after 35. 
  • Period: Your period might become problematic during your second puberty. You might notice unusual bleeding. Fibroids or leiomyoma and endometriosis are also more common at this age. They can cause pain and heavy bleeding. See your doctor to discuss treatment options. 
  • Mental health: Your 30s can be very stressful. You might be juggling multiple responsibilities in your family, social life, and at work. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your mental health.

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Second puberty in your 40s

Irregular menstrual cycles? Hot flashes? Change in weight? These are all symptoms of second puberty in your 40s. 

Your body is going through major changes during your 40s and the beginning of your 50s.  Somewhere around this age, you’ll begin menopause. As you age, you might also experience weight gain, hot flashes, and achy joints and muscles.

A woman experiencing a hot flash - one of the symptoms of a second puberty in her 40s

This is what you can expect:

  • Menopause: Most women stop having periods somewhere between ages 45 and 55. Menopause is sometimes thought to be a calmer phase of life. One study discovered that mood scores steadily improve with age.
  • Period: You’ll experience an irregular menstrual cycle as you approach menopause. It should stop completely within about four years. 
  • Hot flashes: 75 percent of women experience hot flashes during menopause. They can happen during the day or at night. Avoid alcohol, spicy food, and hot temperatures to help alleviate hot flashes. 
  • Bone density: Reduced levels of estrogen can lower the amount of calcium in your bones, leading to osteoporosis. 
  • Weight gain: Your second puberty can also contribute to weight gain. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise frequently to keep your weight under control.
  • Lower sex drive: Your hormone levels start to decline as you get older. You might experience a reduced sex drive and vaginal dryness. Talk to your doctor if either becomes worrisome. 

Second puberty in transgender people

When people discuss gender transition, they often talk about physical changes. But hormonal gender transition can also be like going through a second puberty. 

This is what transgender women can expect during their transition: 

  • Breast development: You’ll notice that your breasts are developing. Development can take anywhere from a couple years to a decade. 
  • Skin changes: Your skin will become softer and more susceptible to irritation. It will also become slightly lighter in color because of a decrease in melanin.
  • Hair loss: You may see slower growth of your body hair. You’ll also experience a reduction in the density and coverage of your body hair. 
  • Fat changes: Your body will start to accumulate fat in a different pattern. You might gain fat in the hips, thighs, buttocks, pubis, upper arms, and breasts.
  • Mood changes: You might also experience mood changes during the second puberty of your gender transition. If the mood changes become overwhelming and/or you think you might be depressed, make sure to talk to your doctor.
  • Sexual changes: Many transgender women report a significant reduction in libido.

How to prepare for second puberty 

Here are some things you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle and feel beautiful in your own body during your second puberty:

  • Healthy diet: A healthy diet should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and starches, good fats, and lean proteins. Eating healthy can prevent weight gain and osteoporosis and improve your mood and gut health. You’ll experience improved mental health, stronger muscles and bones, and healthy skin. 
  • Plenty of exercise: Getting plenty of exercise is essential if you want to prepare for your second puberty. This might include jogging, dancing, pilates, or swimming. 
  • Think about pregnancy: A 21-year old woman has greater chances of staying pregnant than a woman in her 30s or 40s. Year by year, fertility starts to drop once you’re 30. 
  • Skin renewal: Doctors can prescribe retinoid creams and emollients to treat damaged skin. 
  • Hair care: You can use over-the-counter treatments to stimulate hair growth.
  • Restful sleep: Stick to a regular schedule of bedtimes and wake times. Avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine before going to sleep. 
  • Multivitamins: Talk to your doctor about whether you should take multivitamins. They can provide your body with any essential nutrients you might be missing.

The human body constantly goes through changes that sometimes confuse us and catch us off guard. One of those changes is second puberty. It can happen in your 20s, 30s, or your 40s. Knowing what to expect can help make your second puberty much easier. Your doctor can also help alleviate your concerns and treat any problems.

https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/hormonal-factors-key-to-understanding-acne-in-women

https://expectingscience.com/2015/02/27/7-things-to-know-about-fertility-in-your-late-30s/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4834516/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27922940

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2856641/

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/gynecological_health/introduction_to_menopause_85,P01535

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menopause-weight-gain/art-20046058?pg=2

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10091-menopause--osteoporosis

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