What will happen to the man that puberty forgot?
August 3, 2005 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Has puberty passed me by?

I'm a 23 year old male who still physically resembles a 16 year old in many ways. My chin and chest are baby-soft, my nipples underdeveloped. My pubic hair is pretty fine, not the wiry MAN version most people have. And although everything down below seems to be in good working order, I can't help feeling a little cheated.

So what is this - low testosterone? Lack of patience? I'm interested to hear if there are other Peter Pans reading this with similar experiences, and whether things changed for them.
posted by anonymous to Science & Nature (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Guys' nipples don't really ever do anything.
posted by delmoi at 10:23 AM on August 3, 2005

(I mean, they don't change when you go through puberty)
posted by delmoi at 10:23 AM on August 3, 2005

Maybe you're XXY!
posted by trevyn at 10:24 AM on August 3, 2005

If you don't have to shave regularly consider yourself lucky.
posted by jmgorman at 10:27 AM on August 3, 2005

You could also start hititng the gym, lifting weights, etc. A friend of mine once lost an arm wrestling match to Asian girl who never worked out. Now he's pretty buff.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 AM on August 3, 2005

Anne Fausto-Sterling wrote a good article in The Sciences magazine a while back about ambiguous sexuality. We pretend there are only two sexes, but in fact, sexuality is a continuum. Be yourself.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2005

Some men do have low testosterone. It's easy to get checked, maybe you should consider it. Then there are shots (I think) to correct the problem.
posted by OmieWise at 10:40 AM on August 3, 2005

You could talk to your doctor (or make an appointment with a different one you'll never see again ;) ), they've seen plenty of bodies. It's probably just late development but it's worth checking out.
posted by abcde at 11:00 AM on August 3, 2005

May be your just a "late bloomer". I have a friend who seems to be about 5 - 10 years behind the rest of our group maturing physically. For example, while the rest of us reached our max height by the time we were 18 or so he kept growing until he was 25. When we were younger he was always the smallest but now is one of the taller fellows. Now that we are in our early 40's it's become an advantage to him. While the rest of us are starting to deal with weird eyebrow and ear hairs he still looks like he 30.
posted by Carbolic at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2005

Definitely see your doctor. There could be a medical reason for the symptoms you describe, or it could be a normal variant.
posted by cahlers at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2005

Maybe you just age slowly. I myself became totally sexual early, but wasn't quick about my face hair, nor do I have a lot of body hair, even now. Yet maturity has treated me kindly, I look better as a middle-aged man than I did in my youth. I wasn't a cute boy, but became a handsome man. They are two distinct looks.

If you have pubic hair and are having sex (even if alone) daily (or more) than you're rather normal in that sense. If you can, dig in to old family photos for pictures of your grandfathers at your age, for comparison.

From what I've heard, if you go to get your testosterone checked, you'll be subjected to some questions designed with the notion that anyone who worries about such things is having a psychological issue, so don't be insulted or surprised. (Although perhaps that has changed since viagra came around).
posted by Goofyy at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2005

Shots, and creams.
posted by kindall at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2005

(I mean, they don't change when you go through puberty)

Slight derail:

When my fiancee was 16 & 17, his nipples/areola became hard, red and painful, and felt like they had "lumps" in them. He was extremely self-conscious about it and found ways to avoid ever taking off a shirt in front of others. He finally discussed it with his father, a physician, who assured him it wasn't that unusual--it was due to "surges" of hormonal fluctuations he was experiencing, and would go away soon. And it did. As my fiancee got older, he learned it wasn't too uncommon.

posted by jenleigh at 11:02 AM on August 3, 2005

I also vote for seeing your doctor. Sounds like a testosterone problem with the possibility of XXY genetics though you don't really list the big symptoms of Klinefelter's syndrome. Might just be that you have a problem producing testosterone which is easy enough to fix.
Weapons- what that article talks about is was well covered in my college classes. I wouldn't say there's so much a continuum of sexes as there are genetic & hence enzymatic defects which cause fairly specific varients.
posted by jmd82 at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2005

Asking why is fine and good, but the real question as we all know is "How will this help me get laid? Metrosexuals everywhere are spending thousands of dollars to look smooth and hairless like you. Get thee a cheap set of weights and a spray tan; confidence is way sexier than gnarly pubic hair.
posted by junkbox at 11:49 AM on August 3, 2005

Total derail ... but related.

I just came across this article at MSNBC about a new book -- "Why Do Men Have Nipples? -- Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini."

The explanation:
"While only females have mammary glands, we all start out in a similar way in the embryo, the authors explain. The embryo follows a female template until about six weeks, when the male sex chromosome kicks in.

Men, however, have already developed nipples."
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on August 3, 2005

I think the nipple thing people are describing are the calcium build-ups behind the nipple that makes it feel like a little disk is behind there. I never got it, but a lot of people get it before puberty and during the early stages.

And there are things that can be done to speed puberty along. You really need to see the doctor as others state. It could be horribly benign or something all together.

Working out will not resolve the issues. If you notice women who work out don't get buff and ripped, nor do they start growing hair. They don't have the testerone producing organs that men have and are severly limited in their ability to become huge. If you have a testerone deficiency or something relating to it I doubt that working would "kick it in", if anything it'd just piss you off as you work out and don't experience muscle hypertrophy.

A few hormone shots will hopefully be all you need if you're indeed low, you'll be on the juice so expect hair everywhere, 2 hours of sleep, and the sex drive of a silverback gorilla on ecstasy.
posted by geoff. at 12:16 PM on August 3, 2005

My boyfriend has a gluten intolerance and was underdeveloped through his college years. Once he stopped eating gluten foods, his body grew again. I am not a doctor, but you might ask your doctor about your diet affecting your hormone balance and levels.
posted by Rothko at 12:52 PM on August 3, 2005

I couldn't recommend more strongly that you go to your doctor. Things out-of-the-ordinary when it comes to sexual development always require at least a reasonable workup; the prime movers of sexual development are your gonads, and if something's not occurring like it should, it could signify an underlying problem with said gonads. And the reason for the strong recommendation is that gonadal dysfunction can often be the first sign of an underlying disorder that leaves said gonads susceptible to malignancy.

(Example: two entirely unrelated teenage girls came into our clinic in the same week last year, both referred to us because of issues related to development of secondary sex characteristics. Both turned out to have XY chromosomes, not XX; both turned out to have underlying genetic issues that left them unable to respond to testosterone in such a fundamental way that their development followed the standard female pathway until puberty; both turned out to have malignancy in their primitive gonads. One had metastases by the time we met her, the other didn't.)
posted by delfuego at 1:45 PM on August 3, 2005

I didn't really grow any chest hair until I was over 30, and didn't have to shave every day until 26 or so. And I was rail-thin till I was 24 or so.

Although I would have liked to look more manly, it didn't cramp my style romantically much - I didn't get to date the serious arm candy but I've always liked smart girls anyway.

And now I'm almost 40, and while over the past ten years my friends who used to be buff are all getting chubby and grey-haired, I've finally been getting naturally muscular while staying relatively slender and youthful-looking. So, yes, you may have below-average testosterone, but patience might also be repaid.
posted by nicwolff at 2:41 PM on August 3, 2005

I too was a slow maturer, but not quite as pronounced as anonymous. I just turned 27 and only just now has exercise actually helped me gain muscle mass (I used to lift in HS and college and I just got more pronounced, no weight gain). I have a couple of friends who didn't get their growth spurt until their last year of HS and now they're huge (one buff, one "barrel chested").

I'm of Asian descent so there's the lack of chest/back/butt hair.

If you're worried about it, go make an appointment with your doctor. otoh, is your diet *extremely* soy-rich (phytoestrogens)?

What is this nipple thing you people speak of? I've played with many (female) breasts and very few of them had that "hard round disc" phenomenon that geoff. mentions, and mainly just on breasts that I'm pretty sure were surgically augmented.

/has small soft nipples that don't do much of anything
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:18 PM on August 3, 2005

I myself became totally sexual early, but wasn't quick about my face hair, nor do I have a lot of body hair, even now. Yet maturity has treated me kindly, I look better as a middle-aged man than I did in my youth.


Even now, as I head rapidly to 40, I have... ooh, lookit that, too many to bother counting. Er, then, back when I was under 30, I had perhaps a half-dozen nipple hairs. Didn't get 5-o'clock shadow then, now I do. Had a 32" waist for the better part of twenty years, now it's surged to 34" this past year. Weighed 115lbs soaking wet as a teen, 125lbs as a young man, and have just topped 150lbs this past year, much to my distress.

OTOH, my face has finally filled out some, and I think I look better than ever. Less likely to blow away in a strong wind.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on August 3, 2005

I have low testosterone. (My doctor, an amusing fellow, said my testosterone levels were perfectly normal. "For an eighty year old man!" Ba-dump-bump!) Downside: I have no sex drive worth mentioning. Upside: the hair on my head is as thick as a mink's pelt.
posted by SPrintF at 8:08 PM on August 3, 2005

I have friends that are Asian, Native American, and even British that haven't ever developed "manly" hair on their chests, etc. Even though I am a lesbian, I think that guys without all the body hair are attractive and I will bet that many of my straight cohort believe the same.

Eventually, you will probably have hair growing out of your ears, and all that "attractive" stuff. In the meantime, I would enjoy your so-called misfortune and sow your wild oats.
posted by kamikazegopher at 9:00 PM on August 3, 2005

Carbolic, junkbox, and five fresh fish had some good stuff. As I too head towards 40, I look at a lot of late bloom as a 2nd puberty of sorts. I am happy to be growing slow. A favorite birthday joke is still "all I want for my birthday is chest hair".
Start working out now, get your body used to it. Lots of reps will not bulk you up, but on down the line you will be glad you did it. Enjoy!
posted by buzzman at 12:43 AM on August 4, 2005

This het prefers less hairy guys. Daniel Day-Lewis with scalp and without facial hair--drool!

See the doctor and get everything checked out, but if everything's working the way it should, I think you'll be okay.
posted by brujita at 5:01 AM on August 4, 2005

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