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Puberty - Physical Maturity, Male Puberty, Female Puberty, Related Topics

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Puberty is the period of sexual maturity when sexual organs mature and secondary sexual characteristics develop. Puberty is also the second major growth period of life—the first being infancy. A number of hormones under the control of the hypothalamus, pituitary, ovaries, and testes regulate this period of sexual growth, which begins for most boys and girls between the ages of nine and 15. The initial obvious sign of female puberty is the beginning of breast development, whereas the initial obvious sign in males is testicular enlargement. Since early signs of female puberty are more noticeable, it is sometimes assumed that female puberty precedes male puberty by quite a bit. However, males usually start puberty just a few months after females, on average. In males, puberty is marked by testicle and penile enlargement, larynx enlargement, pubic hair growth, and considerable growth in body height and weight. In females, puberty is marked by hip and breast development, uterine development, pubic hair growth, menstruation, and increases in body height and weight. Because of the extensive growth that occurs at this time, a balanced, nutritious diet with sufficient calories is important for optimal growth. Although puberty was originally used to classify the initial phase of early fertility, the term is also used to include the development and growth which culminates in fertility. In this sense, puberty usually lasts two to five years and is accompanied by the psychological and emotional characteristics called adolescence.


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