As transitioning into early adulthood begins, children go through the physical changes of the sexual maturing process- puberty. The stages of puberty are known as the Tanner stages and were created by professor Dr. James M. Tanner, a British pediatrician. Not everyone experiences the changes of puberty the same. The way one grows and develops can be completely different from the way their peers develop. The Tanner stages outline a general guide on the development of secondary sex characteristics.
Proper Growth Stages During Puberty: Tanner Stage One
Tanner stage 1 is the prepubescent stage with no observable sexual development. The brain’s hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The pituitary gland then produces puberty hormones called luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to prepare the body for changes.
Proper Growth Stages During Puberty: Tanner Stage Two
Tanner stage 2 highlights the beginning of physical change and development. Changes such a dark pubic hairs or adult body odor become noticeable in both sexes. Between the ages of 8 to 10, sexual development in girls begin with a growth spurt in height and the development of breasts. Although boys don’t reach a growth spurt at this age, the growth of testicles, along with the thinning and redness of the scrotum become apparent.
Proper Growth Stages During Puberty: Tanner Stage Three
At Tanner stage 3, physical changes become more apparent. Females continue breast development and expand peripherally beyond the areola with more elevation. About 20% of girls will experience vaginal discharge and the onset of menstruation. For boys, a growth spurt in height, the lengthening of the penis, continued growth of testicles and scrotum, and ejaculation are milestones of this stage. Boys may become fertile during this stage of puberty.
Proper Growth Stages During Puberty: Tanner Stage Four
During Tanner stage 4, the peak of growth spurts typically end for females at this stage. However, the female development of breasts and areolas continues. About 56% of females experience the onset of menstruation during this stage. For males, the penis, testicles, and scrotum continue to grow in length and circumference. Production of sperm begins and the male voice deepens.
Proper Growth Stages During Puberty: Tanner Stage Five
(Age 12 1/2-18)
At this last stage, the female breasts and genitalia reach their mature adult size and appearance. The male growth spurt in height begins to slow, however facial hair starts to emerge. At this stage, the male genitalia has also reached adult size and appearance. On average, the time from the onset to completion of puberty is roughly four years for females and three years for males.
If you are concerned that your child is not growing at the same rate as their peers, it is possible they may have a growth disorder - problems that prevent them from reaching normal height, weight, or sexual maturity.