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The Guy's Guide to Dealing With Late Puberty

Why you can relax, even if you haven't started puberty yet.
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By Eric Metcalf, MPH
WebMD Feature

It can be tough to start puberty way after other guys you know. They're already growing, their voices are changing. And you might be stuck with this:

  • Teased at school for being short
  • People think you're younger than you are
  • Have trouble keeping up with bigger, stronger guys in PE or sports
  • Feel left behind or embarrassed by being a "late bloomer"

Here's the good news: Your body will catch up. And there's a lot you can do to stay happy, fit, and interesting until your body starts its growth spurt.

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What’s Taking So Long?

Most of the time, there is NOTHING wrong with boys who start puberty late, says Erica Eugster, MD, an Indianapolis doctor who treats hormone issues in kids and teens. Here's what she wants you to know:

  • It might run in your family. Most of the time, if a guy is a late bloomer, his mom or dad was, too (or maybe they both were). Ask your parents if they remember when it happened. Chances are, they can relate.
  • Your body might not be that late. Most guys hit puberty sometime from ages 9-14 -- the average age is 12. Puberty is only late if you’re 14 years old and aren’t showing any signs.
  • You might be overlooking something. You know your voice will get deeper, you'll get hair in your armpits and groin, and you'll grow taller. But the first thing that changes is that your testicles start growing. Tucked away under your penis, your testicles grow so they can make testosterone, a hormone that triggers the other body changes. But it can be hard to notice that they’ve grown. So you might be in puberty but you just aren't seeing the outward signs yet.
  • You'll probably catch up. Your height will probably end up normal for your family whether you go through puberty early, on average, or late. In fact, when your friends and classmates have stopped growing, you’ll probably keep going. “A lot of guys are going to pass their friends by because they’ll continue to grow,” Eugster says.

Until your body finally gets going, here’s how to not feel left behind in the meantime.

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