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In human physiology, the period of first becoming capable of reproducing sexually. Occurring at about age 12 in girls and age 14 in boys, puberty is characterized by the maturing of the genital organs, development of secondary sex characteristics, and, in girls, onset of menstruation. Both sexes experience a swift increase in body size and changes in body shape and composition. Puberty marks the beginning of adolescence.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on puberty, visit Britannica.com.