Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is the definition of puberty?


Puberty is the developmental process by which fully competent adult reproductive capacity is established. It is characterized by marked neuroendocrine and physiologic changes in the reproductive system, culminating in mature secondary sexual characteristics and, in girls, the ability to ovulate and menstruate. Significant increases in somatic growth as well as dramatic psychosocial changes also characterize puberty. Of note, changes in growth and psychosocial development do not always parallel the reproductive changes, and this can lead to misunderstanding regarding an individual’s “maturity.”

Reference: Morris W (ed): American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.  Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1978.

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