Sexual Development

Sexual development is affected by a myriad of biological and psychosocial factors. Biological influencers begin in utero with genetic and hormonal factors, the latter extending through puberty, adolescence, adulthood, and aging. Psychosocial factors vary widely across nations, cultures, religions, and eras. As a result, sexual behaviors, attitudes, and practices during development differ greatly across peoples and times. This entry focuses on sexual development in more sexually open societies, yet tries to show contrasts with sexually closed societies, so the diversity of experiences related to sexual development can be better understood.

Prenatal Development

Chromosomal XX or XY determines whether fetal gonadal development is male (testes) or female (ovaries), a process typically completed by the 7th week of gestation; females typically have two of the same kind of ...

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