Later at puberty, estrogen feminizes a young woman, giving her adult sexual characteristics.An imbalance of maternal hormonal levels and some chemicals (or drugs) may alter the secondary sexual characteristics of fetuses.

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Alchemists constructed the symbol from a circle (representing spirit) above an equilateral cross (representing matter).

Womanhood is the period in a female's life after she has passed through childhood and adolescence, generally around age 18.

It is a popular misconception that the term "woman" is etymologically connected to "womb".

"Womb" is actually from the Old English word wambe meaning "stomach" (modern German retains the colloquial term "Wampe" from Middle High German for "potbelly").

A fetus usually develops into a male if it is exposed to a significant amount of testosterone (typically because the fetus has a Y chromosome from the father).

Otherwise, the fetus usually develops into a female, typically when the fetus has an X chromosome from the father, but also when the father contributed neither an X nor Y chromosome.

Most women have the karyotype 46, XX, but around one in a thousand will be 47, XXX, and one in 2500 will be 45, X.

This contrasts with the typical male karotype of 46, XY; thus, the X and Y chromosomes are known as female and male, respectively.

In some cases, even if a child had XX chromosomes, if they were born with a penis, they were raised as a male.

There are also transgender and transsexual women, who were assigned as male at birth, but identify as women; there are varying social, legal, and individual definitions with regard to these issues (see trans woman).

Mann or monn had a gender-neutral meaning of "human", corresponding to Modern English "person" or "someone"; however, subsequent to the Norman Conquest, man began to be used more in reference to "male human", and by the late 13th century had begun to eclipse usage of the older term wēr.