MECHANISMS OF SEXUAL MATURITY
The period of puberty is a transitional phase between childhood and sexual maturity associated with certain physical and mental changes in a child’s body. During this period a dynamic change of the external and internal genital organs takes place. It is the moment for the development of secondary sexual characteristics and the establishment of sexual identity. The timing of puberty depends on a variety of genetic factors and external conditions: race and ethnicity, environment, geographical location, and even dietary patterns. Every one of these factors is significant in the formation of the reproductive system.
Experts have noted recently that puberty starts earlier than ever in children, between the ages of 8 to 13 years for girls and from 9 to 14 years for boys.
MAIN SYMPTOMS OF SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT FUNCTIONAL DISORDER
At an early stage of puberty (within the permissible age range during normal development) sex hormones trigger a rapid restructuring of the body. Depending on the child’s gender, female or male hormones are activated, and start managing the formation and functioning of sex organs. The body’s structure and the functioning of several organs change. Sweat and sebaceous glands become more active, leading to increased hair growth. Circulatory and endocrine systems also run faster, affecting especially the formation of adipose tissue.
Age-related changes in external sexual signs should begin in a timely manner. Normally, the mammary glands begin to be formed in girls at the age of 13, while boys see the enlargement of testicles and penis. Growth of facial hair and pubic hair alone is not enough proof of normal hormonal development.
The lack of development of external sexual signs by this age indicates a delay in sexual development as well as a hormonal impairment. Premature puberty may also require consultation with a specialist and certain corrections. The reasons for delayed or premature sexual development can lie in a disruption of the hormonal and central nervous systems, malnutrition, environmental and ecological situations, chronic diseases, developmental disorders during the embryonic phase in addition to genetic and hereditary factors.
If left untreated, delayed or advanced puberty and growth disorders may lead to depression, behavioural problems, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, short stature, disproportionate development and fragility of bones, susceptibility to frequent fractures and future infertility.