Diagnosis of late puberty

Horm Res. 1999;51 Suppl 3:95-100. doi: 10.1159/000053168.


Late puberty is defined as the lack of pubertal development at two standard deviations above the mean age for the general population of the geographical area. In practical terms, this is a chronological age of 14 years for males (testicular volume <4 ml) and 13 years for girls (lack of thelarche). The goal of the assessment is to determine whether the delay or lack of development is due to a lag in normal pubertal maturation or represents an abnormality that must be investigated. Etiologies of pubertal delay and pubertal failure include: a) Constitutional delay of puberty (healthy patients with a clinical history of delayed growth and development; b) Hypogonadotropic states (congenital abnormalities, tumours, endocrinopathies); c) Hypergonadotropic states (chromosomal alterations, syndromes, genetic disorders, radiotherapy/chemotherapy); d) Secondary to chronic illness (organic abnormalities, oncological diseases, malnutrition, eating disorders and endocrinopathies). Diagnostic evaluation must include: a detailed physical examination, including auxological parameters (height and bone maturation), personal and familial antecedents, measurements of general hematological and biochemical parameters, gonadotropins, prolactin, thyroid hormones, sex steroids, growth hormone and growth factors. When necessary, an MRI must be performed. A karyotype is indicated in girls with delayed puberty and short stature and in boys who have small testes and hypergonadotropism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Height
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Puberty, Delayed / diagnosis*
  • Puberty, Delayed / etiology
  • Puberty, Delayed / genetics
  • Testis / pathology