My symptoms of puberty are out of order

Last updated on November 26, 2020



I am having a lot of questions about my puberty. First of all, the Tanner Stage calculator puts me at about 3.5, and the description says I should be in the middle of my growth spurt. This does not make any sense because I have not grown rapidly at all. I started stage 2 at about 12 years old, and I have grown 2 inches a year since then. I was 5’6 at 12, 5’8 at 13, and 5’10 at 14. Currently, I’m 14.5 and almost 5’11, and at that rate, I’ll be about 6’0 when I turn 15, which follows the same rate again. There was no growth spurt or rapid growth in that period, so I am confused about why I am in tanner stage 3 with no growth spurt.

Also, my symptoms are out of order. According to the site, my voice should be cracking around now, but instead, my voice cracked immediately once I turned 12 and I’ve had a consistently deep voice since then with no voice cracks. This led me to think that maybe I was an early bloomer, but there are no signs of early blooming other than that. I just got my armpit hairs a few months ago, there are few fine beard hairs coming in, etc. Everything else seems fine but I don’t know what happened with my voice.

Both my parents were late bloomers, but only in height. My dad, for example, was a premature baby, so his puberty came later. He started at 12, as the average, but completed all the symptoms from 13-14. (Deep voice, mustache, beard hairs, etc.) He was basically a man in terms of symptoms, but he finished puberty at about 20-21. The rest of the years from 14-21 was purely height growth. My mom, however, was just a late bloomer, she started at 13 and finished at 18-19. I started at 12, and my voice deepened already, but nothing else out of the ordinary has happened.

I feel like the calculator measures me incorrectly because my symptoms and order of symptoms do not fit the descriptions of each Tanner stage. I have not had a growth spurt yet, ever, yet I am in Tanner stage 3.5. I am most confused about this particular aspect. Can you explain to me why this is? I also tried the height calculators listed on the site, but they list me at 6’2-6’3, implying I am only to grow 4-5 more inches from now. My dad also mentioned that he never had a growth spurt, and he only grew a steady rate every year until he was in his 20’s. I thought this might happen to me, but I read somewhere that puberty only lasts 2-5 years, meaning since I started at around 11-12, I should finish at 16-17. This does not make sense to me because shouldn’t I be a late bloomer like my parents and finish at an older age, like 18-20? 

All in all, to summarize my confusion, I am wondering why my symptoms don’t fit the description of the Tanner stages, how long am I likely to grow, and why is my puberty a bit irregular to the average, ex: my voice breaking at 12 years, but no evidence of precocious puberty.

If possible, please help me with my confusions, thank you very much!


Every system designed to measure development uses a sample of people to determine what ordinarily occurs, even though we know there are exceptions to the usual growth order.

Consider that each system in your body changes in a particular sequence, but exactly when those sequence of changes are triggered may vary between individuals. For example, I knew one boy whose first indication that he was maturing was that he started developing hair on his back. For most boys, this doesn’t even start until after stage 5 is reached. But in everything else his growth was typical.

The calculator tries to overcome these variances by asking about several systems of changes and then takes a weighted average to get the estimate.

From your description, I would guess that you are in stage 3, but that is only a guess since I can’t double-check your answers.

Not everyone experiences a dramatic spurt in growth during stage 3. For some, the growth is a bit more than in childhood, which typically is 1-2 inches a year. Often those who have less dramatic growth end up staying in stage 3 longer than the typical two years.

Therefore, I can’t predict how long you will stay in stage 3. The typical length of development for boys is 6 to 8 years. But this assumes you accurately notice when you reached puberty.


I totally understand. Thank you so so much for taking the time to reply!