Sexual maturation refers to a stage during growth when a living organism has the ability to reproduce. People tend to equate sexual maturity to adulthood though the two are different things but share similar characteristics. It is brought about by the maturity of reproductive organs and is accompanied by the growth and development of some physical organs that distinguish between young form and the mature organism. Sexual maturation is essentially the stage at which a boy or a girl achieves the level of maturity. Puberty in girls occur much earlier than in boys with girls sexual maturation occurring between the age of ten to fourteen years while in boys it takes place between the ages of twelve to sixteen years. Africans and African Americans in general start their puberty earlier than the other races at about the age of nine. (Himes 2002)
The female is most affected by pubertal maturation more than the male is. This in essence says that the effect of sexual maturation is different among boys and girls. One defining factor in early sexual maturation among boys and girls is the tendency to have overweight youths across the section. The age of entering puberty is reduced from an average of fifteen to an average of eleven, but that has not changed much in terms of psychological and intellectual maturity. Physical changes that occur in the body do not necessarily translate to psychological and intellectual changes. This has been a major focus of recent studies, especially in early sexual maturation and its connection to psychological and intellectual studies. (Himes 2002) Girls with early sexual maturation are, for instance, seen to be at a greater danger to develop problems than their younger peers. One clear problem that maturity issues has raised to all concerned is the disparity of girl’s growth viz a viz boy’s growth. Whereas the girl’s maturity age has tremendously gone down, the boy’s remain more or less unchanged. This in a way has resulted in a situation whereby the man’s age in a relationship has tremendously gone down or become inconsequential at the same time.(Himes 1999) It is nowadays commonplace to find a senior woman dating a younger fellow simply out of the fact that the young fellow can afford that or vice versa. Girls essentially mature earlier than boys, and this has been a defining factor in both boy’s and girl’s life. This difference or distinction in the rate of maturity of boys and girls has translated in behavioral differences between the girls and the boys. Girls develop sexual reproductive systems earlier than their counterparts, and this prompts them to seek relationships with men well beyond their age. This means that boys aged fifteen years are likely to have younger girlfriends aged thirteen or lesser years.
Early sexual maturation is also associated with obesity or weight issues. This is especially so with girls and not boys who have a low waist at baseline. Research has shown that those who mature early have a tendency to have a higher body mass index. This means that they are more likely to be overweight or obese either during their adolescence or adulthood. The general increase in weight raises other challenges, such as the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. (Himes 1999)
The effects of early sexual maturation are evident to all age groups, including parents and peers as well. It is evident among teenagers since their behavior and physical characteristics reveal their true nature.
Himes, JH (2002).Application of maturational variables in public health and epidemiology. Gordon: London. pp. 107–112.
Himes, JH. (1999) Growth reference data for adolescents: maturation-related misclassification and its accommodation. Human Growth in Context Smith-Gordon: London. pp. 95–100.