The time in one's life when sexual maturity takes place is known as puberty. The physical changes that mark puberty typically begin in girls between ages 8 and 13 and in boys between ages 9 and 14.
Precocious puberty is a condition that occurs when sexual maturity begins earlier than normal. Precocious (meaning prematurely developed) puberty begins before age 8 for girls and before age 9 for boys.
Children affected by precocious puberty may experience problems such as1:
Delayed puberty is the term for a condition in which the body's timing for sexual maturity is later than the normal range of ages.
Many children with delayed puberty will eventually go through an otherwise normal puberty, just at a late age. Other children have a long-lasting condition known as hypogonadism (pronounced HI-poe-GO-nad-iz-uhm) in which the sex glands (the testes in men and the ovaries in women) produce few or no hormones. For example, hypogonadism can occur in girls with Turner syndrome or in individuals with hypogonadotropic (pronounced HI-po-GO-nah-doe-TROH-pik) hypogonadism, which occurs when the hypothalamus (pronounced HI-po-THAL-uh-muss) produces little to no gonadotropin-releasing hormone (pronounced goh-nad-uh-TROH-pin) (GnRH).
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