Puberty is the process in which a human child’s body matures into an adult capable of sexual reproduction. It is initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the ovaries in females and testes in males, also known as the gonads. In response to these signals, the gonads produce the hormones required for the physiological transformation of the human body, including changes to the sex organs and the stimulation of sexual desire in people (i.e., the libido).
The physical growth (i.e., increased height and weight) of the human body accelerates during puberty and completes once an adult body has been fully developed. Prior to puberty, boys and girls are distinguished by their primary sex organs, namely the penis and vagina, respectively. Following puberty, these differences are further highlighted with secondary sexual characteristics. For men, this includes:
The onset of puberty varies between genders and individuals. Girls typically start going through puberty beginning around the ages 10-11 and complete it around the ages of 16-17. Boys tend to start puberty later than girls (around the ages of 11-12), but end around the same age (i.e., 16-17). Again, once a human person completes puberty, they are physically an adult. This includes the desire to have sexual relations, along with the ability to reproduce sexually.
Nuts & Bolts: Puberty
To learn more about, please visit our series of posts about male reproduction and contraception:
Libido - sexual desire.
Pubic Hair - body hair that is found in the genital area of adolescent and adult humans.
Sexual reproduction - the production of new living organisms by combining genetic information from two individuals of different types (sexes). In most higher organisms, one sex (male) produces a small motile gamete which travels to fuse with a larger stationary gamete produced by the other (female).
For additional terminology related to male contraception and the male reproductive system, please visit our glossary:
Kail, RV; Cavanaugh JC (2010). Human Development: A Lifespan View (5th ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-495-60037-4.
D. C. Phillips (2014). Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy. Sage Publications. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-1-4833-6475-9.
Schuiling (2016). Women's Gynecologic Health. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-284-12501-6.
Buck Louis GM, Gray LE, Marcus M, Ojeda SR, Pescovitz OH, Witchel SF, Sippell W, Abbott DH, Soto A, Tyl RW, Bourguignon JP, Skakkebaek NE, Swan SH, Golub MS, Wabitsch M, Toppari J, Euling SY; Gray Jr; Marcus; Ojeda; Pescovitz; Witchel; Sippell; Abbott; Soto; Tyl; Bourguignon; Skakkebaek; Swan; Golub; Wabitsch; Toppari; Euling (February 2008). "Environmental factors and puberty timing: expert panel research needs". Pediatrics. 121 Suppl 3 (Supplement 3): S192–207. doi:10.1542/peds.1813E.
The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, C. T. Onions ed. Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 720.
"Puberty and adolescence". University of Maryland. Archived from the original on 2013-09-24.
Garn, SM. Physical growth and development. In: Friedman SB, Fisher M, Schonberg SK., editors. Comprehensive Adolescent Health Care. St Louis: Quality Medical Publishing; 1992. Retrieved on 2009-02-20 Abbassi V (1998). "Growth and normal puberty". Pediatrics. 102 (2 Pt 3): 507–513. PMID 9685454.
Essential Reproduction, M Johnson, Blackwell Publishers, 6th Rev Ed edition (29 Jun 2007)
Taga, Keiko A. (3 May 2006). "A Longitudinal Investigation of Associations Between Boys' Pubertal Timing and Adult Behavioral Health and Well-Being". Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 35 (3): 380–390. doi:10.1007/s10964-006-9039-4.
"Puberty: Adolescent Male | Johns Hopkins Medicine". Hopkinsmedicine.org.
For additional publications related to male contraception and the male reproductive system, please visit our publications page: