Sexual Maturity

Sexual maturity is the age or stage when an organism can reproduce. It is sometimes considered synonymous with adulthood, though the two are distinct. In humans, the process of sexually maturing is termed puberty.

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 breasts while adult males generally do not. However, there are exceptions such as obesity and hormone imbalances such as Gynecomastia.

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 to reproduce (see progenesis).

Other articles related to "sexual maturity, sexual":

Malagasy Giant Rat - Reproduction and Maturation
... The male Malagasy giant rat reaches sexual maturity within one year, but will not mate until they reach 1.5 to two years ... The female Malagasy giant rat reaches sexual maturity in two years ... with the family unit for one year before achieving sexual maturity and leaving to find their own burrow ...
Shortfin Mako Shark - Life History - Lifespan
... highly inaccurate estimations of lifespan and sexual maturity in shortfin makos from the North Atlantic ... Maximum age of 29 years in males (260 cm FL) Maximum age of 32 years in females (335 cm FL) 50% sexual maturity at 8 years in males (185 cm FL) 50% sexual ...
Pet Rabbits - Breeding
... be bred at almost any time after reaching sexual maturity ... Does of small breeds (Mini Rex, Polish) normally reach sexual maturity at 4 to 5 months, medium breeds (New Zealand, Rex) normally reach sexual maturity at 5 to 6 months, and large breeds (Flemish ...
Plateosaur - Palaeobiology - Growth, Metabolism and Life Span
... physiology, growth was initially rapid, continuing somewhat more slowly well beyond sexual maturity, but was determinate, i.e ... Mammals grow rapidly, but sexual maturity falls typically at the end of the rapid growth phase ... show a sauropod-like growth pattern, initially rapid, then slowing after sexual maturity, and almost, but not fully, stopping in old age ...

Famous quotes containing the word maturity:

    The time passes so quickly during these full and active middle years that most people arrive at the end of middle age and the beginning of later maturity with surprise and a sense of having finished the journey while they were still preparing to commence it.
    Robert Havighurst (20th century)