JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Androgen therapy for delayed male puberty

Geoffrey R Ambler
Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity 2009, 16 (3): 232-9
19396985

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Delayed puberty in men is a commonly presenting problem to paediatricians and an understanding of the available evidence on cause, treatments and outcomes is important to guide practice.

RECENT FINDINGS: Understanding of the regulation of the onset of puberty is gradually unfolding, although the genetic factors that dictate the timing of puberty in individuals and families remain poorly elucidated. Mutations and polymorphisms in candidate genes are being actively studied and it is likely that there is significant overlap between traditional diagnostic categories. Also, environmental endocrine disruptors may interact with the genetic regulation of puberty. Delayed puberty may not always be a benign condition, with increased risks of failing to achieve target height, adverse psychological and educational consequences, delayed sexual and psychosocial integration into society and effects on skeletal proportions and bone mass reported. Appropriate evaluation and follow-up is needed to guide clinical practice, particularly to distinguish constitutional delay in growth and puberty from that associated with other medical disease or permanent disorders.

SUMMARY: In milder cases of delayed puberty, treatment is often not required; however, considerable evidence exists for the efficacy and safety of short courses of low-dose testosterone therapy for appropriately selected individuals. This treatment is associated with high levels of patient satisfaction. There is not yet sufficient evidence for the routine use of other therapies (e.g. growth hormone, aromatase inhibitors) for constitutional delay in growth and puberty and better characterization of cause may lead to more targeted individual therapy.

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