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I am 16 Years old and have recently started puberty at a late age (showing begining signs). I am wondering If I should see a doctor about starting at such a late age to see if I am maturing properly, and i am wondering whether or not Hormone therapy is used to initiate puberty or to help those who started puberty late.

Thanks

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Okay, so first off there is no need to worry as a teenager. Puberty for males typically occurs from ages 12 to 21. Most men will keep growing until the age of 21. There are exceptions however, there is a thing called precocious (early) puberty where puberty can begin as early as age 9. There is also a condition called Constitutional Growth Delay (Late Bloomers), in which puberty is offset by 2 to 5 years. This can be extrapolated to mean that some boys may not start puberty until 14 to 17 years old. These individuals are would not be fully grown until 23 or 26 years old. . People with Constitutional Growth Delay usually have a first-degree relative that also had it.  Like most things biological, genetics are a big factor. The age of onset of puberty will depend on the age which your parents went through puberty. The pattern will not follow exactly and you could vary a little bit behind or ahead of your parent.

Genetics play a big part, but your “environment” also plays a part. In digression, it has been shown that even the environment of a grandfather could affect the genetics of the grandson; this is because of epigenetic changes. Studies where able to show that grandfathers who experienced famine or periods of starvation had grandsons that were more slender and who required less food intake. Back to the point, environmental factors that affect puberty usually affect certain parts of a chemical pathway that mediates puberty. Growth Hormone (GH) is a big factor in puberty and cause bone growth, soft tissue growth, reduction of fatty acids in adipose tissue (reduced fat) and protein synthesis. Testosterone also increases the effects that GH has on tissues. GH levels are increased by Sleep, Exercise, Physical Stress, Puberty and Fasting. Diet is also another major factor for growth and development. In cases with poor nutrition puberty is often delayed. The goal of a malnourished body is survival, not developing sexual characteristics. Race and heredity is also another important factor.  Scientific research shows that penis size varies from race to race and from geographical region to region. We will not cover the individual aspects of every race, but let’s just say that research and stereotypes seem to correlate in the same way.

As for penis size, the average length of an American adult penis when erect is 5.6 inches in length and 4.8 inches in circumference. Those measurement vary from + or – 1 in., meaning that about 98% of the population falls somewhere in the range of 4.6 inches to 6.6 inches when erect. Flaccid (soft or limp) size is varies to several factors and is not the best way to measure up. Temperature, excitement/arousal, brain-induced nervous system tone and emotions can all affect flacid size. Some research use stretched penis length for its measurements which measures from the pubic ramus (the bone that one can feel just above the base of the penis) to the end of the glans penis (the tip), these are the same perimeters for measuring an erect penis. There are other things that affect length, one of which is the percentage of body fat one has. For overweight and obese people an average of .5 inches are gained for every 10 pounds of fat lost.

On another note, the average vagina is only 4.5 inches from the external opening to the cervix. Therefore the average size of the penis, even on the lower end, is more than adequate to fill the space. Surveys also show that women report that there is an ideal size and that larger is not necessarily better. Only so much will go in without causing trauma.

As for determining where you are in the process of puberty there are several ways to guess about where you are. The start of puberty usually starts with the development of body hair. Pubic hair and armpit hair are usually the first to appear. Next is usually a dramatic increase in the size of the testicles. As the process continues you will see more secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair and thickening and darkening body hair. Usually towards the end of puberty and penile growth the pubic hair will have expands out to where the thighs meet the grown. In 80% of the population pubic hair will grow on the thighs and up onto the abdomen (treasure trail or happy trail). This is a good sign that puberty is mostly completed. For the most part puberty in men is mostly done by age 18, however there will be some growth, usually in height, until about 21. Some secondary characteristics will progress until death as part of the aging process. For more information on staging of puberty try googling Tanner’s Development Staging or Sexual Maturity Rating.

Hope this helps answer any question you guys are having. If not, I’ll try to answer any questions. If you still have any concerns I would talk about them with you doctor. Certain things can lead to not going through puberty, but 16 is not too far out of the normal for too much concern.

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