Puberty is the last part of childhood during which boys and girls become sexually mature. They develop adult sexual characteristics and become able to have babies. Boys develop facial and body hair, deep voice, and larger testicles. Girls develop breasts and pubic hair. Puberty usually starts between ages 8 to 13 for girls and ages 10 to 14 for boys.
Delayed puberty is when puberty starts later than expected. Puberty is delayed when it starts after age 13 for girls and after age 14 for boys.
Delayed puberty can be normal if a lot of people in your family also started puberty late
Sometimes delayed puberty is caused by health problems or because the child had radiation or chemotherapy treatments
A sign of delayed puberty in boys is no testicle growth by age 14
Signs of delayed puberty in girls include no breast development by age 13 or no period by age 16
Treatment depends on what's causing the delayed puberty—doctors may have your child take hormones
Delayed puberty can be a normal difference that runs in families. Most of the time, healthy children with delayed puberty will have a late growth spurt and eventually catch up to other children their age.
Sometimes delayed puberty is caused by another health problem such as:
Girls who diet and exercise too much often have delayed puberty.
Delayed puberty is more common in boys. Boys with delayed puberty usually:
Girls with delayed puberty usually have:
Children may be teased or bullied if they have delayed puberty. This usually happens more to boys.
Doctors diagnose delayed puberty based on your child's sexual development.
To see why puberty is delayed, doctors ask about your child's eating habits. They'll also do tests:
X-rays of your child's bones
Hormone level tests
Sometimes, genetic testing
Sometimes, MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer records changes in the magnetic field around your body. The computer then uses... read more to make sure there's no brain or pituitary gland problem
Doctors will treat any health problems that are keeping puberty from starting.
Children who are naturally late to develop usually don't need any treatment. If delayed puberty is causing a lot of stress or continues for a long time, doctors may prescribe sex hormones. The sex hormones will start puberty and help your child develop physically and sexually.
Genetic disorders can't be cured, but taking sex hormones can help with physical development.