Boy, 13, worries about not showing signs of puberty


February 02, 1993|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,Contributing Writers

Q: It's really getting embarrassing for me to take a shower at school. Although I'll be 13 next month, I haven't started to develop physically and a lot of guys tease me.

My doctor says I'm OK -- just slow to get started. Is there anything wrong?

A: We understand your concern about your physical maturation. Many young people worry when their own development doesn't match that of their friends. One of the mysteries of life is why puberty (the change from a child's body to an adult's) doesn't happen at the same time for everyone. Studies show that at age 13, approximately 10 percent of males still have not entered puberty. We hope this fact will help reassure you somewhat.

Although it's not a hard and fast rule, boys who develop late tend to have relatives who also developed more slowly than their peers. You may want to check with your parents about this.

If your growth until this point has been normal, (your doctor's records can verify this) and you otherwise feel well, have plenty of energy and a good appetite, chances are you're normal.

By age 14, only 2 percent to 3 percent of boys have failed to enter puberty. We also suggest that you check back with your doctor in six to nine months. He may be able to detect the start of puberty (by measuring the size of your testicles) before you notice growth of pubic hair.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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