I’m still growing at 20. When will I finish?

Last updated on October 5, 2020



I am 20 years old but I am quite concerned because I have not completed puberty. I took your Tanner stage test, and I was recorded at a 3.8. I am a very late bloomer. I first noticed the signs of puberty at the age of 17. I cannot shave or grow facial hair. The only hair I have is upper lip hair. My voice still cracks, I cannot build muscle and I feel very awkward because my legs and arms are disproportionate to my torso. Is my torso still going to grow? Will my shoulders get wider? Will I grow hair from the pubic region to my stomach, and my voice get deeper? Will I grow hair on my upper thighs? Will I get acne? Will my Adam’s apple become bigger? Will I get more armpit hair?

I noticed these physical changes occur in stage 4. I just started to grow a few axillary hairs roughly about 6 months ago. In the last 6 months, my foot size has also gone from an 8 to a 9. In the past year, I have grown from 174 cm to a 181cm. This depresses me severely because all my peers have surpassed me and wherever I go people think I am 15 years old.

I just want to know how long it will take for me to finish puberty? A recent bone age test said the bones in my wrist were 18, but I have done some research and a lot of doctors say the bones in your spine and shoulders stop growing at a bone age of 20. My arm span is 188cm and my height is 181 cm.

Thank you very much for your help and your time.


There are several inconsistencies in your question that makes it difficult for me to answer. A bone age test is based on an x-ray of the bones in a hand and wrist, not the wrist bones only. Depending on the method used, the most common bone age test gives results with a maximum answer of 16. Even if you had an unusual test, an answer of 18 would most definitely state that you are no longer growing; yet, you said your foot size has changed and you have rapidly increased in height over the last year.

Having the first signs of puberty at 17 is unusually late. Your doctor should have been doing all sorts of tests to find out why long before this point. Most recommendations call for tests if there are no signs and the boy is past 14. There are males who don’t finish puberty until in their twenties.

Since you are not following a normal progression, it would be impossible for me to predict your future growth. Typically each stage of development takes about 2 years. Since you first noticed signs at the age of 17, reaching the start of stage 4 at age 20 is basically following this pattern so far.

The bones in the spine, and in the rest of the body are not controlled by physical age. Yes, the majority of men are fully developed before age 20, but there are always exceptions, and you are one of those exceptions.

Being depressed is not reasonable. You are growing and making progress. Be content with that because you will eventually catch up with your peers. But likely you will always look younger than your physical age — something you will enjoy when you are in your forties.