Delayed or arrested puberty


  • In girls, normal puberty starts with breast development. In boys, normal puberty starts with testicular enlargement.

  • Puberty is complete in girls after periods start. Puberty in boys is complete once the voice has broken and shaving is established.

  • Timing of puberty is strongly influenced by family history, i.e. a girl is likely to have delayed puberty if her mother had delayed puberty, and a boy is likely to have delayed puberty if his father had delayed puberty.

  • The timing and duration of puberty varies greatly between individuals. It can be difficult for teenagers if they feel they are ahead or behind their peers, and this may sometimes worry them. Mostly, however, this is just natural variation.

  • Teenagers who have puberty problems due to a brain tumour will have other symptoms or signs. These should be looked for carefully.

There are medical definitions of early and delayed puberty, but if you (or a teenager in your care) meet these criteria, it does not necessarily mean that anything is wrong.

  • Delayed puberty in girls is said to be present if there are no signs of puberty by the age of 13, or no periods by age 16. Delayed puberty in boys is said to be present if there are no signs of puberty by age 14

  • Arrested (suspended) puberty is present if puberty started normally but then doesn't progress. In young females, this includes when periods start and then stop.

If you're a teenager and you're concerned about your symptoms, it's best to get them checked out by your doctor. You might think puberty can be an awkward subject to talk about, but your doctor should be understanding and keen to see how they can help.

For more information for health care professionals

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