Is Having a ‘Second Puberty’ a Real Thing? An Ob-Gyn Explains
For many of us, puberty wasn’t especially fun: The acne, emotional roller coasters, and general awkwardness of being 13 years old all pretty much sucked. Obviously, I’m glad that’s in the past… or I was, until I got really nervous when I saw people talk about having a “second puberty” on TikTok.If you haven’t seen these videos pop up on your feed, they largely consist of women in their mid to late 20s talking about physiological changes, like weight fluctuation and adult acne, that remind them of going through puberty. (These posts outline a different phenomenon than when trans people describe going through a “second puberty” after starting a medical transition, especially one including hormone replacement therapy.)As one user wrote in a short video: “Any other ~27~ year old girlies feel like you’re going through a second puberty!? Like my hair won’t grow anymore and my pimples came back… also I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been? It’s all good, just curious wtf is up with my body and hope to recognize myself again soon.” Another user lamented that she’d finally found pants that fit her body well before being hit by what she called her second puberty.These tales of big changes affecting people in their 20s made me wonder: What could be going on with people’s bodies during this time that might make them feel 13 again? For answers, SELF spoke with Alyssa Dweck, MD, FACOG, a New York–based gynecologist.Right off the bat: Dr. Dweck says there’s no such thing as a second puberty—we’re only going to suffer through that once, thank god. But your body is going to naturally change as you get older, and a number of things can mess with your hormones in your 20s and 30s, which might cause puberty-esque symptoms. Before we dive into a series of circumstances that might or might not apply to you, a few quick reminders: There’s truly no way to tell what’s going on with your body without talking to a doctor; this isn’t an exhaustive list of every single thing that could cause puberty-like symptoms; and self-diagnosing is always a bad idea. That said, below you’ll find the most common culprits behind second puberty. (Which is, again, blessedly not a real thing.)Hormonal shiftsOne thing about the concept of second puberty that does ring true: Your body can surprise you through the years. It would be great if your body would just settle down into a normal rhythm permanently, but, unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. “My guess is some of the people relaying their experiences [on TikTok] are going through hormonal shifts,” Dr. Dweck says, adding, “People go through hormonal shifts during various life changes,” like during puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and for a host of other reasons.For example, the pelvic area may continue to widen up until the age of 30 (and perhaps get smaller after 40) for some people, research suggests. This is “likely linked” to the age at which a person is most fertile, which is influenced by hormonal fluctuations, the researchers note. Changes in breast size and shape shouldn’t necessarily cause panic either, as SELF previously reported. A number of factors can affect how your boobs look and feel, including your fitness routine, weight, and age.