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The earliest women whose names are known through archaeology include: In terms of biology, the female sex organs are involved in the reproductive system, whereas the secondary sex characteristics are involved in nurturing children or, in some cultures, attracting a mate.

The ovaries, in addition to their regulatory function producing hormones, produce female gametes called eggs which, when fertilized by male gametes (sperm), form new genetic individuals.

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").

For instance, intersex individuals, who have mixed physical and/or genetic features, may use other criteria in making a clear determination.

In mature women, the breast is generally more prominent than in most other mammals; this prominence, not necessary for milk production, is probably at least partially the result of sexual selection.

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.

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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