Could I have stopped too early in my development?

Last updated on August 23, 2020


I am 16, and I think I may have a problem developing properly in the course of puberty. For all my life, I was average height. The doctor said I was always average height for my age or just  a slight amount lower. Now I am only about 5’6.5 and think that my puberty may have like stopped early or something. I believe this because looking at my past school pictures, I have not really changed since being about 15 years old. I have the same basic amount of facial hair shading on my upper lip (which is the only hair that can be seen in school pictures). I do have some other hair on me like light side burns on the right side of my face, and hair on my nipples and underarms, but I am not sure how much of this has changed recently. The only thing that I think that I can see any differently is in my naval hair, which is still very small. it’s just in the last 6 months, I think, that it is a little more visible. Now my dad does not really develop chest hair, but my mom’s side does, so I am not sure if I will get that when I am older. Maybe I should look for that as a sign that I am still developing.

The weird thing is, I think I started puberty on time, maybe even leaning a little on the early side. I was one of the first kids I noticed to start growing hair on my upper lip. And my friend who had the same amount of facial hair as me the whole time I’ve known him, now is able to grow a stubble on his chin. People always think that I am 15 years old, and mistake me as a freshman. It is kind of getting annoying.

In terms of pubic hair, I look like I have the full stage 4 pubic hair. Do I sound Like I am developing normally?

The growth calculators say that I will be in the 5’7/5’8 range, which I have no problem with, its just that I think that I may not reach it because my growth seems to be slowing down exponentially, so I am not sure If I will even get to it. So does it sound like something may be wrong with me in terms of having my puberty stop too early, and can this ever happen?

I see my family doctor regularly (not a pediatrician) and he has never pointed out something being wrong with me. Or could it be I am actually a kind of late bloomer, and just developed pubic hair quickly and now my growth will pick back up? I have seen a little bit of growth in the last six months (like maybe 1/2 of an inch at most, or 1/4 inch).

Thank you, and sorry this was so long it’s just I am kind of concerned and did not want to tell my parents because they would think I was a hypochondriac.


Since I can’t see you, I’m going by your description. It sounds like you are in stage 4 of development. So, yes, your growth rate is decreasing rapidly; that is what happens in stage 4.

Hair patterns for men tend to follow their paternal side, so you are more likely to have body and facial hair like your dad than like your mother’s father. Full facial and body hair doesn’t usually develop until after you reach stage 5 — when your growth in height has already stopped.

Late bloomer refers to a person who doesn’t start puberty until later in their teenage years, such as 16. Given that you’ve reached stage 4 at the age of 16, you likely started a little bit on the early side. For a 16-year-old to be mistaken for a 15-year-old is no big deal. It is hard to accurately pinpoint a teenager’s age anyway because there are so many variations in development.

It sounds like you are progressing in your development. The problem is that you are focusing on only some of the showy parts of the changes, such as hair development. If you pick any one part of your body and watch its development, it goes in spurts of changes followed by lulls. Those lulls don’t mean you’ve stopped growing. Your body has a limited supply of energy so one part develops while other parts rest. Then that part rests while another part develops some more. So while your skin isn’t producing as many hair follicles, you are growing in other ways in other parts. Some of those changes are inside, such as growing bigger organs to support your bigger body. They aren’t as easily seen, but it doesn’t mean you’ve stopped growing.

In stage 3 it was mostly your limbs that were going. That causes a quick and noticeable gain in height. During stage 4, it is mostly the trunk of your body that develops. You fill out as your organs and muscles develop. Your spine gets longer and your shoulders get wider. None of those things are easily seen other than you might notice that you’ve had to change shirt sizes in the last year or so.