Sexual maturity

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Sexual maturity is the capability of an organism to reproduce. It may be considered synonymous with adulthood, [1] but, in humans, puberty encompasses the process of sexual maturation and adulthood is based on cultural definitions. [1] [2]

Organism Any individual living physical entity

In biology, an organism is any individual entity that propagates the properties of life. It is a synonym for "life form".

Reproduction Biological process by which new organisms are generated from one or more parent organisms

Reproduction is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offspring" – are produced from their "parents". Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all known life; each individual organism exists as the result of reproduction. There are two forms of reproduction: asexual and sexual.

Synonym Words or phrases having the same meaning

A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another lexeme in the same language. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. For example, the words begin, start, commence, and initiate are all synonyms of one another. Words are typically synonymous in one particular sense: for example, long and extended in the context long time or extended time are synonymous, but long cannot be used in the phrase extended family. Synonyms with exactly the same meaning share a seme or denotational sememe, whereas those with inexactly similar meanings share a broader denotational or connotational sememe and thus overlap within a semantic field. The former are sometimes called cognitive synonyms and the latter, near-synonyms, plesionyms or poecilonyms.

Most multicellular organisms are unable to sexually reproduce at birth (or germination), and depending on the species, it may be days, weeks, or years until their bodies are able to do so. Also, certain cues may cause the organism to become sexually mature. They may be external, such as drought, or internal, such as percentage of body fat (such internal cues are not to be confused with hormones which directly produce sexual maturity).

Sexual maturity is brought about by a maturing of the reproductive organs and the production of gametes. It may also be accompanied by a growth spurt or other physical changes which distinguish the immature organism from its adult form. These are termed secondary sex characteristics, and often represent an increase in sexual dimorphism. For example, before puberty, human children have flat chests, but adult females have generally larger breasts than adult males. However, there are exceptions such as obesity and hormone imbalances such as gynecomastia.

Gamete haploid cell that fuses with another haploid cell during fertilization (conception) in organisms that sexually reproduce

A gamete is a haploid cell that fuses with another haploid cell during fertilization in organisms that sexually reproduce. In species that produce two morphologically distinct types of gametes, and in which each individual produces only one type, a female is any individual that produces the larger type of gamete—called an ovum— and a male produces the smaller tadpole-like type—called a sperm. In short a gamete is an egg cell or a sperm. This is an example of anisogamy or heterogamy, the condition in which females and males produce gametes of different sizes. In contrast, isogamy is the state of gametes from both sexes being the same size and shape, and given arbitrary designators for mating type. The name gamete was introduced by the Austrian biologist Gregor Mendel. Gametes carry half the genetic information of an individual, one ploidy of each type, and are created through meiosis.

Secondary sex characteristic Features that occur in an organism at sexual maturity

Secondary sex characteristics are features that appear during puberty in humans, and at sexual maturity in other animals. These are particularly evident in the sexually dimorphic phenotypic traits that distinguish the sexes of a species, but unlike the sex organs, are not directly part of the reproductive system. They are believed to be the product of sexual selection for traits which display fitness, giving an individual an advantage over its rivals in courtship and aggressive interactions. They are distinguished from the primary sex characteristics, the sex organs, which are directly necessary for sexual reproduction to occur.

Sexual dimorphism condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs

Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs. The condition occurs in many animals and some plants. Differences may include secondary sex characteristics, size, weight, color, markings, and may also include behavioral and cognitive differences. These differences may be subtle or exaggerated, and may be subjected to sexual selection. The opposite of dimorphism is monomorphism.

After sexual maturity is achieved, it is possible for some organisms to become infertile, or even to change their sex. Some organisms are hermaphrodites and may or may not be able to produce viable offspring. Also, while in many organisms sexual maturity is strongly linked to age, many other factors are involved, and it is possible for some to display most or all of the characteristics of the adult form without being sexually mature. Conversely it is also possible for the "immature" form of an organism to reproduce. This is called progenesis, in which sexual development occurs faster than other physiological development (in contrast, the term neoteny refers to when non-sexual development is slowed – but the result is the same, the retention of juvenile characteristics into adulthood).

Sex change is a process by which a person or animal changes sex – that is, by which female sexual characteristics are substituted for male ones or vice versa. Sex change may occur naturally, as in the case of the sequential hermaphroditism observed in some species. Most commonly, however, the term is used for sex reassignment therapy, including sex reassignment surgery, carried out on humans. It is also sometimes used for the medical procedures applied to intersex people. The term may also be applied to the broader process of changing gender role, including but not necessarily limited to medical procedures.

Hermaphrodite organism with both male and female reproductive organs

In biology, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has complete or partial reproductive organs and produces gametes normally associated with both male and female sexes. Many taxonomic groups of animals do not have separate sexes. In these groups, hermaphroditism is a normal condition, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which either partner can act as the "female" or "male." For example, the great majority of tunicates, pulmonate snails, opisthobranch snails, earthworms and slugs are hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditism is also found in some fish species and to a lesser degree in other vertebrates. Most plants are also hermaphrodites.

Neoteny, also called juvenilization, is the delaying or slowing of the physiological development of an organism, typically an animal. Neoteny is found in modern humans. In progenesis, sexual development is accelerated.

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Gender dysphoria (GD) is the distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. People who experience gender dysphoria are typically transgender. The diagnostic label gender identity disorder (GID) was used by the DSM until it was renamed gender dysphoria in 2013 with the release of the DSM-5. The diagnosis was renamed to remove the stigma associated with the term disorder.

Adolescence transitional stage of physical and psychological development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood

Adolescence is a transitional stage of physical and psychological development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to legal adulthood. Adolescence is usually associated with the teenage years, but its physical, psychological or cultural expressions may begin earlier and end later. For example, puberty now typically begins during preadolescence, particularly in females. Physical growth and cognitive development can extend into the early twenties. Thus, age provides only a rough marker of adolescence, and scholars have found it difficult to agree upon a precise definition of adolescence.

Human development is the process of growth to maturity. The process begins with fertilization, where an egg released from the ovary of a female is penetrated by a sperm cell from a male. The resulting zygote develops through mitosis and cell differentiation, and the resulting embryo then implants in the uterus, where the embryo continues development through a fetal stage until birth. Further growth and development continues after birth, and includes both physical and psychological development, influenced by genetic, hormonal, environmental and other factors. This continues throughout life: through childhood and adolescence into adulthood.

Biologically, a child is a human being between the stages of birth and puberty, or between the developmental period of infancy and puberty. The legal definition of child generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority.

Biologically, an adult is a human or other organism that has reached sexual maturity. In human context, the term adult additionally has meanings associated with social and legal concepts. In contrast to a "minor", a legal adult is a person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible. The typical age of attaining legal adulthood is 18, although definition may vary by legal rights and country.

Maturity may refer to:

Sex reassignment therapy is the medical aspect of gender transitioning, that is, modifying one's characteristics to better suit one's gender identity. It can consist of hormone therapy to modify secondary sex characteristics, sex reassignment surgery to alter primary sex characteristics, and other procedures altering appearance, including permanent hair removal for trans women.

Sexual differentiation the development of sexual characteristics in humans

Sexual differentiation is the process of development of the differences between males and females from an undifferentiated zygote. As male and female individuals develop from zygotes into fetuses, into infants, children, adolescents, and eventually into adults, sex and gender differences at many levels develop: genes, chromosomes, gonads, hormones, anatomy, and psyche.

In medicine, precocious puberty is puberty occurring at an unusually early age. In most cases, the process is normal in every aspect except the unusually early age and simply represents a variation of normal development. In a minority of children with precocious puberty, the early development is triggered by a disease such as a tumor or injury of the brain. Even when there is no disease, unusually early puberty can have adverse effects on social behavior and psychological development, can reduce adult height potential, and may shift some lifelong health risks. Central precocious puberty can be treated by suppressing the pituitary hormones that induce sex steroid production. The opposite condition is delayed puberty.

Delayed puberty is when a person lacks or has incomplete development of specific sexual characteristics past the usual age of onset of puberty. The person may have no physical or hormonal signs that puberty has begun. In the United States, girls are considered to have delayed puberty if they lack breast development by age 13 or have not started menstruating by age 16. Boys are considered to have delayed puberty if they lack enlargement of the testicles by age 14. Delayed puberty affects about 2% of adolescents.

Virilization biological development of male sex characteristics

Virilization or masculinization is the biological development of sex differences, changes that make a male body different from a female body. Most of the changes of virilization are produced by androgens. Virilization is most commonly used in three medical and biology of gender contexts: prenatal sexual differentiation, the postnatal changes of normal male puberty, and excessive androgen effects in females. It is also the intended result of Androgen replacement therapy in males suffering from delayed puberty and low testosterone, as well as transgender men desiring body changes as part of their gender transition.

Thelarche The beginning of development of the breasts in the female.

Thelarche is the onset of secondary breast development, which often represents the beginning of pubertal development. The initial growth of breasts occurs during fetal development in both males and females. Thelarche is the stage at which male and female breasts become distinct due to variance in hormone levels; however, some males have a condition in which they develop breasts, a term called gynecomastia. Thelarche, also known as breast budding, typically occurs between the ages of 8 and 13 years with significant variation between individuals. The cause of this variation is a question central to countless research projects, yet it is generally accepted that race, genetics, exercise, and body mass each influence the age of thelarche. Puberty is considered delayed if breast development does not start before age 13 or if a female has not had her first period (menarche) within 3 years of thelarche. Ordinarily, females experience menarche about 2 years after thelarche has begun. Complete breast development, from thelarche to adult breasts, takes between 2 and 4 years. If secondary breast development occurs before the age of 7 or 8 years, the individual may be experiencing either premature thelarche or precocious puberty.

Reproductive biology includes both sexual and asexual reproduction.

Human reproductive system Organs involved in reproduction.

The human reproductive system usually involves internal fertilization by sexual intercourse. In this process, the male inserts his penis into the female's vagina and ejaculates semen, which contains sperm. A small proportion of the sperm pass through the cervix into the uterus, and then into the Fallopian tubes for fertilization of the ovum. Only one sperm is required to fertilize the ovum. Upon successful fertilization, the fertilized ovum, or zygote, travels out of the Fallopian tube and into the uterus, where it implants in the uterine wall. This marks the beginning of gestation, better known as pregnancy, which continues for around nine months as the foetus develops. When the foetus has developed to a certain point, pregnancy is concluded with childbirth, involving labor. During labor, the muscles of the uterus contract and the cervix dilates over the course of hours, and the baby passes out of the vagina. Human infants are nearly helpless and require high levels of parental care. Infants rely on their caregivers for comfort, cleanliness, and food. Food may be provided by breastfeeding or formula feeding.

Juvenile (organism) individual organism that has not yet reached its adult form, sexual maturity, size;if transition from juvenile to fully mature is a more prolonged process (puberty for example), then juveniles during this transformation are sometimes called subadults

A juvenile is an individual organism that has not yet reached its adult form, sexual maturity or size. Juveniles sometimes look very different from the adult form, particularly in colour. In many organisms the juvenile has a different name from the adult.

Man Male adult human

A man is a male human. The term man is usually reserved for an adult male, with the term boy being the usual term for a male child or adolescent. However, the term man is also sometimes used to identify a male human, regardless of age, as in phrases such as "men's basketball".

Age of maturity may refer to:

Puberty is the process of physical changes through which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads: the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a boy. In response to the signals, the gonads produce hormones that stimulate libido and the growth, function, and transformation of the brain, bones, muscle, blood, skin, hair, breasts, and sex organs. Physical growth—height and weight—accelerates in the first half of puberty and is completed when an adult body has been developed. Until the maturation of their reproductive capabilities, the pre-pubertal physical differences between boys and girls are the external sex organs.


  1. 1 2 Thomas Edward McNamara (2004). Evolution, Culture, and Consciousness: The Discovery of the Preconscious Mind. University Press of America. p. 262–263. ISBN   076182765X.
  2. Joseph S. Sanfilippo, Eduardo Lara-Torre, D. Keith Edmonds, Claire Templeman (2008). Clinical Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. CRC Press. p. 34. ISBN   978-0203091784. The definition of puberty alone can encompass the process of sexual maturation, but a more expansive approach is to think of puberty in combination with the term adolescence. This differentiation prompts the practitioner to consider the psychological, behavioral, and social changes of the adolescent who is experiencing pubertal development.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)