By Miriam Aliberti —
Grace is having a pool party tonight and Lexi wants to be in on the fun, but she dreads having everyone see her in a bikini. Most of her friends have their period already and are starting to fill out on top, but there’s no sign of this happening for Lexi. Everyone else’s body is changing, but Lexi feels she still looks like a little kid. She’s beginning to wonder if something is wrong.
Puberty is the time when a girl’s body changes into an adult. Hormones such as estrogen cause body shape changes, breast development, pubic hair growth, and menstruation. Generally, girls will go into puberty by the age of 13 though sometimes it will happen at a later age. Delayed puberty can happen for lots of reasons including genetics, over-activity from a sport, glandular problems, chromosomal disorders, medical issues, medications, eating disorders, or malnutrition. Sometimes, there is no reason at all except that someone is a late bloomer. Maybe their mom or aunt developed late too. You probably have noticed that some of your friends matured very early and some matured much later. Puberty begins within a wide range of ages, and often with a little patience, will happen all on its own with no treatment or intervention.
If you’re worried that your body is not going into puberty normally, a doctor can usually help. Your doctor can complete a physical exam and ask questions to determine if there might be a physical reason for the delay. If there is a possibility of a medical concern, your doctor can complete tests to understand the reason for the problem and most of the time, treatment is effective in getting a patient back on track.
The doctor will review your growth pattern, and may order blood work to determine chromosomal, pituitary, or thyroid problems. He or she may do a test to check your bone age and see if your bones are maturing properly.
It can be frustrating to have delayed puberty and feel like you are being left behind. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have concerns that this is happening to you.
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