SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS
Secondary sexual characteristics are characteristics that
are sex related but are not directly connected with the physiology of reproduction. The
body image depends a good deal on the secondary sexual characteristics. Statistically, men
tend to be heavier with more muscle mass and physical strength than women although there
are some women heavier, more muscular and stronger than some men. Darwin did not limit his
discussion of sex differences in variability to obviously secondary sexual
Of humans he suggested that "the numerous
measurements of various other races with respect to stature, the circumference of the neck
and chest, and the length of the back-bone and arms, which were carefully made, nearly all
showed that the males differed much more from each other than did the females." He
also discussed studies in which various abnormalities, such as supernumerary digits,
occurred more frequently in men, noting that the data might be biased if women were more
likely to conceal such effects.
Darwin wrote of the frequent and extraordinary amount of
variability presented by secondary sexual characters of males and he concluded from his
studies of domesticated animals that "the male is more liable to vary than the
female." He reasoned that "all these contingencies are highly favorable for
Human female breasts are secondary sexual characteristics
that evolved to attract mates. D. Morris The Naked Ape.
An imbalance of maternal hormonal levels and some
chemicals may alter the secondary sexual characteristics of fetuses.
Ellis, H. 1894. Man and woman: A study of human secondary
sexual characteristics. Walter Scott, London.
The Psychological Significance of
Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Nine- to Eleven-Year-Old Girls. -
Brooks-Gunn, J.; Warren, Michelle P. - Child Development, v59 n4 p1061-69 Aug
Abstract: Studied the onset of puberty in girls aged nine to eleven as represented by
breast, pubic hair growth, and height. Breast growth, but not pubic hair growth was
associated with a positive body image, positive peer relationships, and superior
adjustment. Height was linked to superior adjustment and rating of career as important.
Beyond Gender-Specific Intervention: Theory-driven Praxis - by Laurie
Some of the biological or physiological characterizations utilized to differentiate among
"sexes" are sometimes called secondary sexual characteristics.
Sexual maturation in Turkish girls - Neyzi, Olcay; Alp, Hülya;
Onset of secondary sexual characteristics and of menarche in the highest socioeconomic
class were early as compared to other population groups.
Sexual precocity in girls. An association with sexual abuse?
Herman-Giddens ME, Sandler AD, Friedman NE. - Child Protection Team, Duke University
Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710.
The development of secondary sexual characteristics before 8 years of age in girls is
uncommon and little is known of its epidemiology. We speculate on possible associations
between early development of secondary sexual characteristics and sexual abuse. The data
suggest that further research explore this possible association.
A study of developmental order of secondary sexual characteristics in Beijing
girls. (Article in Chinese) - Li JJ., Haidian Health and Epidemic Prevention
Station, Beijing. - Zhonghua Yu Fang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 1991 Jan;25(1):23-5.
A six-year (1980-1986) study of the developmental status of the secondary sexual
characteristics was made among 937 girls in Beijing. The mean age of the first appearance
of the secondary sexual characteristics was measured. The individual variation was very
Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Boys
Estimates From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 1988-1994
Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, PA, MPH, DrPH; Lily Wang, MS; Gary Koch, PhD
Background Descriptive data on pubertal stages for a representative population of racially
and ethnically diverse boys in the United States have not been published to our knowledge.