Late Puberty 101

Starting puberty later than all of your friends can seriously suck

Yet again, the conversation had turned to periods and bras. My friends, sprawled around me in my bedroom, jumped to share their stories of blood and cramps, how to tackle these new griping pains and which bra was the most comfortable. My lips remained sealed; this wasn’t a discussion I could join.

I was a flat-chested 16 year old who hadn’t started her period. No-one else seemed concerned. My friends constantly said that I was lucky and I should make the most of pre-puberty freedom. But that didn’t stop the panicky thoughts: was there something wrong with me?

No, as it turned out. Apart from the spectacular timing of my first period – slap-bang in the middle of my statistics exam – absolutely nothing was wrong.

What exactly is ‘delayed puberty’?

Delayed puberty happens to both boys and girls.


For boys, it means there are no signs of testicular development by the age of 14.

For girls, it means their breasts haven’t developed by the age of 13, and/or their periods haven’t started by the age of 15.

There are several conditions that can cause a delay in puberty, including:

  • Chronic illness
  • Malnutrition
  • Stress
  • Excessive exercising
  • Anorexia

However, 90% of young people who experience delayed puberty are perfectly healthy – they simply have a slower physical development rate. These people typically have shorter or slimmer builds, and/or a family history of delayed puberty. If you are genuinely concerned, or think you might have an underlying condition that is causing delayed puberty, speak to your GP.

Bodies develop at different rates. Your body will grow in its own time, and if that means taking time out from your statistics exam, then so be it!

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