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puberty(pyo͞o`bərtē), period during which the onset of sexual maturity occurs. It usually takes place between the ages of 10 and 15 in both sexes but sometimes occurs as early as 7 or 8 years of age in females. The pituitary glandpituitary gland,
small oval endocrine gland that lies at the base of the brain. It is sometimes called the master gland of the body because all the other endocrine glands depend on its secretions for stimulation (see endocrine system).
..... Click the link for more information. secretes hormones that stimulate enlargement and development of the sex organs, which thus become capable of reproduction. The appearance of secondary sex characteristics also occurs during puberty. In females the reproductive cycle of ovulation and menstruationmenstruation,
periodic flow of blood and cells from the lining of the uterus in humans and most other primates, occurring about every 28 days in women. Menstruation commences at puberty (usually between age 10 and 17).
..... Click the link for more information. begins, pubic hair appears, and development of the breasts and other body contours takes place. Physical changes in males include production and discharge of semen, appearance of facial and body hair, and deepening of the voice. Skin difficulties, such as acneacne,
common inflammatory disease of the hair follicles and sebaceous glands characterized by blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, nodules and, in the more severe forms, by cysts and scarring. The lesions appear on the face, neck, back, chest, and arms.
..... Click the link for more information. , may affect both sexes. Puberty, a transition period coinciding with adolescenceadolescence,
time of life from onset of puberty to full adulthood. The exact period of adolescence, which varies from person to person, falls approximately between the ages 12 and 20 and encompasses both physiological and psychological changes.
..... Click the link for more information. , involves both physiological and psychological adjustments. It is often marked by emotional stress arising as the adolescent relinquishes childhood behavior patterns and adopts those of an adult.
the period in an animal’s development during which, as a result of profound internal changes, it attains sexual maturity, or the ability to reproduce.
In man, puberty is marked by accelerated growth of some parts of the skeleton followed by establishment of the body’s definitive proportions, the formation of secondary sex characteristics and final development of the sexual organs. An important feature of puberty is the release from the body of products of the external and internal secretions of the sexual glands. In girls this leads to the onset of the menstrual cycle, and in boys to the ability to ejaculate, usually at first in the form of noctural emissions.
During puberty there is a restructuring of hormonal regulation and of physical and mental development. The latter includes sexual awareness, that is, the awareness that the individual belongs to a specific sex and the ability to regulate sexual behavior in accordance with society’s moral and ethical standards. Several stages may be distinguished in the growth of sexual awareness: elementary and nonsensual notions of sexual differences, platonic love, the awakening of specifically sexual feelings associated with the genital area, and mature sexual awareness, which is the harmonious correlation of all its components.
The onset and tempo of puberty are determined by the interaction of inherent physical factors and environmental influences. The age of the onset of puberty varies widely within the following limits, with allowance made for the processes of acceleration. In girls puberty occurs between eight and 17 years of age, and in boys between ten and 20. Unfavorable living conditions and such factors as poor diet or disease are reflected in disharmonic, retarded, and occasionally accelerated physical, mental, and sexual development.
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Lebedinskaia, K. S. Psikhicheskie narusheniia u detei s patologiei tempa polovogo sozrevaniia. Moscow, 1969.
Sal’nikova, G. P. Fizicheskoe razvitie shkol’nikov. Moscow, 1968.
Solov’eva, V. S. “Uroven’ polovogo sozrevaniia kak odin iz pokazatelei biologicheskogo vozrasta organizma podrostka i aspekty ego primeneniia.” In Host i razvitie rebenka. Moscow, 1973. Pages 152–88.
Donovan, B. T., and J. J. van der Werff ten Bosch. Fiziologiia polovogo razvitiia. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from English.)
Tanner, J. M. Growth at Adolescence, 2nd ed. Oxford, 1962.
G. S. VASIL’CHENKO