Delayed Puberty: What Is It?
When a child’s body begins to transition into an adult’s, it’s known as puberty. Between the ages of 8 and 14, most females start to experience these changes. Between the ages of 9 and 15, they begin in boys. As a result of this vast range of ages, children may develop years ahead or behind their peers. The late-onset of puberty is called delayed puberty.
Puberty can strike at any time in a child’s life and may do so without any noticeable physical changes. It’s a medical term for this. Doctors might help many kids with delayed puberty in order to catch up with their peers.
Is there any way to tell if a child is entering puberty?
Signs of puberty in girls include:
- breast growth
- fast growth of pubic or underarm hair (a growth spurt)
- curvy body form with broad hips
- menstruation begins at this point (periods)
There are many signs in boys, such as:
- pubic, underarm, or facial hair growth enlargement of the testicle
- rapid development in height (a growth spurt)
- a more muscular frame and larger shoulders
Males and females experience these changes as a result of the increased production of sex hormones testosterone (in boys) and estrogen (in girls).
Delayed puberty: What happens?
In boys, delayed puberty can be characterized by:
- By age 14, the testicles and penis have not yet begun to expand.
- Modest stature compared to their contemporaries, who are currently growing faster in the genital area
Signs of late puberty in girls are:
- commencing menstruation by the age of 16
- there is no breast growth by the age of 14
Delays in puberty are caused by what?
In boys, delayed puberty is more prevalent and can be caused by a variety of factors.
The Story of Your Ancestors
Typically, a family’s growth and development are characterized by delayed puberty. Many children are born later than normal because of a child’s family history of being born later than average. No therapy is normally required for this type of delay, known as constitutional. In time, these “late bloomers” will mature just like their contemporaries, although at a slower pace.
Some medical conditions can delay puberty:
Puberty may occur later in life for some children and adolescents suffering from long-term ailments such as cystic fibrosis, kidney failure, or even asthma. As a result, their bodies may have a difficult time growing and developing. Delaying puberty is less likely if these disorders are treated and controlled properly.
Being malnourished — not eating enough food or not obtaining good nutrients — can make someone mature later than peers who consume a healthy, balanced diet. Food insecurity, compulsive eating, and excessive physical activity can lead to this.
Those who suffer from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, for example, frequently drop so much weight that their bodies are unable to properly develop as a result. A high amount of physical activity may delay a girl’s development since it keeps her slim. Before puberty or menstruation, a girl’s body must have a certain amount of fat.
Puberty can be delayed by issues with hormone production caused by the pituitary or thyroid glands.
Delays in the onset of puberty can manifest in a variety of ways.
In the adolescent years, if a child hasn’t displayed any signs of puberty, doctors will:
Perform a test.
Take a look at the child’s medical history, and see whether any members of the child’s family have experienced the same thing.
Inquire as to whether or not the child is taking any medications. Find out if there are any patterns in the growth chart that indicate a problem.
They might also be:
- Order blood tests to rule out thyroid, pituitary, chromosomal, or other issues.
- Bone age testing can be ordered to see if the bones are maturing normally.
- Parents are often referred to a pediatric endocrinologist or another specialist for additional testing or treatment if a doctor discovers a problem. Pediatric endocrinologists treat children and adolescents with growth difficulties.
In what ways is delayed puberty dealt with?
Frequently, the doctor will be unable to uncover any physical cause for the symptoms. Most children who experience delayed puberty will eventually catch up to their peers who are developing at a more normal pace.
Some late bloomers have a hard time waiting for puberty changes to begin. Doctors may prescribe hormone therapy:
- Treatment with testosterone (often a monthly injection for 4–6 months) may be given to boys to help them transition into puberty.
- Low dosages of estrogens may be given to girls between the ages of 4 and 6 to initiate breast growth.
- In most cases, the teen’s natural hormones complete puberty after treatment is completed. Doctors may recommend a long-term sex hormone replacement plan if they don’t respond to treatment.
Can parents be of assistance?
Watching friends grow and develop can be difficult for youngsters and teens who aren’t experiencing the same thing. In school, they may face taunts or be unable to participate in sports they enjoy. Their self-esteem and body image can be affected.
Accepting your body, liking it, and taking care of it is the first step toward a good body image. To enhance a child’s self-esteem:
- Get them involved in things they’ll like and be able to master.
- Help them obtain a good night’s sleep and eat a nutritious meal.
- Make sure your adolescent is physically active on a daily basis.
- Reassure them that their growth and development are normal for them and that they will eventually catch up with their peers.
- Be a positive role model for your own self-perception as well. By modeling positive body image and self-care behaviors, children learn how to do the same for themselves.
A late start to puberty isn’t a permanent concern for your youngster; they’ll catch up eventually. However, seeking a therapist or counselor to chat with can help your child if he or she is depressed or experiencing difficulties at school or other areas.
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