It is true that each young woman matures at a different rate, but if your child has not gotten her menstrual cycle by the age of 15, it could be due to delayed puberty. Another common sign may include undeveloped breasts by the age of 12 or more severe symptoms such as a lack of bone maturity. 

If you are worried about your daughter’s health and you are looking for comprehensive information on delayed puberty in females, you are in the right place. In this article, you will learn about the common causes of delayed puberty in girls, the risk factors, signs and symptoms to look out for, the diagnosis process, and treatment methods. 

Besides educating yourself on this topic, it is also crucial to seek out the help of a trained professional at a reliable clinic such as Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Care in South Miami.

With that in mind, here are the facts on delayed puberty. Keep reading.

What Is Delayed Puberty?

Simply put, delayed puberty refers to puberty that occurs later in a child’s life. For instance, if the physical signs of sexual maturity do not happen by the age of 12 in females or age 14 in males, the child may be dealing with late maturation.

But what is puberty? In short, besides undergoing numerous changes, it is when the body begins to produce sex hormones. If and when the bodily processes do begin, delayed maturation could prevent them from progressing properly.

Whenever in doubt, seek out the help of a professional. Choose a healthcare provider with experience that you can trust. If you are in the area or you are looking for the best experts available, book an appointment at Obstetrics and Gynecology in South Miami, Florida.

The Causes of Delayed Puberty in Females

School Psychologist Talking to Child With Behavior Issues.

There are various reasons why your child may be experiencing late maturation. However, most often, the exact cause is unknown. For instance, sometimes late maturation runs in a person’s family.

These are the most common causes of delayed puberty in females:

  • Genetic disorder
  • Chromosomal complications
  • Tumors of the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland
  • Chronic illness
  • Hypopituitarism or an underactive pituitary gland
  • Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid
  • Excessive exercise
  • Anorexia or a serious lack of eating (and other eating disorders such as bulimia)
  • Complete androgen insensitivity syndrome or the body’s inability to utilize androgen hormones
  • Abnormal development of the patient’s reproductive system
  • A low percentage of body fat
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Celiac sprue
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Turner syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD
  • Some autoimmune diseases, such as Addison’s disease
  • Chemotherapy or radiation cancer treatment (may cause ovary damage)

Some of these potential causes of late maturation are mild, while others are more severe. That said, sometimes, the girl’s sexual maturation may begin later than usual without any underlying cause. Often, the child will enter puberty and develop normally. Again, whenever in doubt, consult with your healthcare provider.

Late Puberty Risk Factors

Both girls and boys can be at risk of delayed puberty. Nevertheless, the risk is increased if the child has any of the following:

  • An eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Congenital syndrome
  • Chronic medical illness
  • Siblings or parents with late maturation

Symptoms of Late Puberty in Girls

The main symptoms of this condition include a lack of secondary sexual characteristics. In girls, the signs include:

  • No menstrual cycle by the age of 15
  • Five or more years between her first menstrual cycle and her first breast growth
  • Lack of breast growth by the age of 12
  • Lack of pubic hair
  • Lack of bone maturity
  • Slow growth rate and height that is shorter than average
  • Inhibited uterine development

On the flip side, signs of late maturation in boys can include:

  • Lack of pubic hair by the age of 15
  • Five or more years to full adult genital growth
  • Lack of testicular enlargement by the age of 14

These common signs of late maturation should be addressed like other health-related conditions. Ensure your daughter sees a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis.

How is Late Maturation Diagnosed?

If you notice your daughter displaying the mentioned signs and symptoms of this condition, consult a professional for diagnosis. Besides a physical exam and a complete history of the child’s health, the diagnosis for late puberty in girls might include:

  • X-ray: With radiation, the expert will create images of the child’s tissue within the body. The test can be performed on the wrist or on the left hand, and it can estimate the bone age of the child. The bone age of patients experiencing precocious puberty (when the body enters puberty prematurely) will be older than their calendar age. In girls, the change happens before the age of eight.
  • Blood tests: The doctor will check for chromosomal complications and chronic disorders and check the hormone levels for potential causes of delayed puberty. For instance, the child may be anemic or diabetic.
  • MRI: Similar to an X-ray, this test creates a detailed image of the child’s tissue within their body.
  • CT scan: This test utilizes a computer and X-rays to produce clear images of the child’s body. The test results can show muscles, organs, fat, and bones. 

How is Late Maturation Treated?

The treatment method for this condition will depend on the root cause of the complications. The chances of puberty proceeding normally are high after the underlying causes are adequately addressed. However, if the causes of late maturation are genetic (or inherited), no action is required. In most cases, the child will eventually begin puberty and begin the transition later than usual.

Nevertheless, if the cause of the late maturation is a low body fat percentage (due to excessive exercise or an eating disorder such as anorexia), the treatment will focus on getting the child to a healthy weight via a higher calorie intake and decreased exercise. However, in the case of an eating disorder, this treatment may be challenging.

In some situations, the expert will suggest hormone therapy. This may help stimulate the development of larger breasts or widened hips. Although rare, some patients may require surgery to correct anatomical problems.


Does Late Puberty in Girls Cause Complications?

Doctor Explaining Diagnosis to Her Female Patient at Hospital

Some adolescents may experience stress and embarrassment. Overall, maturing late can cause significant academic, social, and emotional stress that can wreck a child’s self-esteem. 

How Can I Help My Child?

In most cases, an adolescent girl who is a “late bloomer” will develop normally with time, and parents should not worry about future complications. However, in some cases, hormone therapy may be required. If you are a parent or a caretaker of a late bloomer, make sure to provide adequate emotional support. In more severe cases, it may also be a good idea to consult with a psychologist. 

We also recommend focusing on the child’s inner characteristics and qualities and trying to put less emphasis on outward appearance. Most importantly, provide your child with unconditional love, emotional support, and encouragement.

When Should I Contact a Doctor?

If your child has not gotten her first menstrual cycle by the age of 16 or has not yet developed breasts by the age of 13, you might need to call a healthcare professional for expert advice. If you are feeling concerned and do not know how to help your child, consult with a trained professional at a reputable clinic. Although, in most cases, children will eventually enter puberty, it is essential to get expert guidance.

If you are on the lookout for the best professionals, we are here to help. Book an appointment with us today and put a smile on your child’s face.