The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Hi,

This question is about my son who just turned 11. He started puberty young. He started getting hair under his arms and a mustache from ages 9 to 10. He went to an endocrinologist. They did a CAT scan and he didn't have any tumors or anything wrong with his brain. The doctor said if he goes through puberty too fast he can stop growing, which I understand. He had high testosterone levels.

I was suppose to see another endocrinologist when we moved to get his blood work done again, but we did not have health insurance. I didn't get to take him and he kept saying he didn't want a shot to slow down puberty. He hates shots.

A year later I took him for a physical. It was his first time with this doctor. I finally got health insurance for him. This doctor checked his pubic area and everything. He told my son he may only have a year left of growth because he seems to be in stage 4 of puberty. He said he may grow only one more inch. He's only 11 and is 5'2" and 98 pounds.

I just have a really hard time believing he will only grow another inch. The doctor shouldn't have said that right to my son. My son cried all the way home. But the doctor doesn't know for sure how much more he will grow. I have a lot of tall people in my family an my son has a lot of European blood, so I don't know if that's why he started puberty early. He got a x-ray of his hand again to see if he has any room for growth like any growth plates left.

I want to get him that shot. He has long arms, long legs, and a size 9 1/2 foot, so I just find it hard to believe he will only be 5'3" and stop growing at 12. If he stops growing height-wise does that mean his penis and everything will stop growing?

I don't get the whole puberty growth stuff, so if you can please give me any information, I'd appreciate it. My son is crushed, so I hope there is hope he can grow at least a few more inches. I mean he grew like 8 or 9 inches in one year and then another few inches so in another year. Who knows how much he will grow. I just feel really bad for my son and I'm very upset with that doctor for saying that in front of my son and pretty much ruined his day. Then he said, "Oh well he still has more time with puberty because his pubic hair isn't to his groin yet or not going up his belly. I guess that's the last stage.

Please help.


Answer

I can't second guess your doctor. I haven't seen your son and you didn't mention what the result of his bone age test came back as. You state that the doctor says he is in stage 4, but your description of his pubic and body hair is that of stage 3.

What your son has is called precocious puberty. Boys are not supposed to show external signs of puberty until they reach the age of 9. Each stage of development is supposed to last about two years, so either he started developing at the age of 5 or he is going through the stages quickly.

Your doctor did the right thing in trying to rule out serious or common causes of this problem, yet there are many unknown causes, to the idea was to slow not his hormones so his body could develop at a normal pace. You chose not to do this. Unfortunately you can't go back in time and reverse your decisions.

The biggest problem is that there are areas on the bones where growth takes place. They are called growth plates. When a boy reaches stage 4 of development, those growth plates start to close down. When he reaches stage 5, they are completely closed. Once growth plates close they cannot be reopened.

The growth of the bones and other internal things, such as hormone levels are considered to be the primary characteristics of growth, but those are hard to see. There are other changes that are external, which are referred to as secondary characteristics. These are things like pubic, body, and facial hair; penis size and shape; scrotum; etc. These things are not connected to each other, but they develop during the same time period. Thus, knowing the amount of development in the secondary characteristics gives a strong hint as to where a boy is in his primary characteristics.

I know it was upsetting to your son to hear that he won't be a large man, but it is his future and the doctor was right not to hide this from him. The doctor could not help telling him on your son's birthday; after all, you are the one who chose to bring him in on his birthday.