i’m too embarrassed to see my doctor

Dear Suzie, i am a teenager at the age of 16 and i haven’t started to develop at all yet!!!! i am flat chested and have not started my period yet!!!!! i have booked an appointment with my doctor, but when she asked me to take off my underwear i ran out of the room. it was bad enough showing her my flat chest!!!!! i know it is impossible to develop when your body is not ready yet!! i really want to see a doctor, but what if they ask me to take of my underwear? i will die of embarrisment! any ideas to help me show my bosoms and vegina to the doctor???? thanks a lot!!!

Puberty can begin anytime between the ages of 9 and 14 and end anytime between 14 and 18. Periods and breast development aren’t the first aspects of what can be a gradual change that take several years. Before your breasts stand out or your periods start you would gain some weight on your hips and face and grow some fuzzy hair on your genitals. So the first ting I’d like to do is reassure you – it sounds as if you’re perfectly normal. You’re not unusual, just a little bit of a late starter.

When you begin puberty can have a lot to do with your family history. If your mother and her mother, sisters and aunts and your father’s female relatives were early you might be too. And if they were late starters you would be likely to be late as well.

How well you eat has a lot to do with it too – if you’re not eating enough that might be holding off your development. And if you had a bad time with your health when you were young or are very stressed or unhappy now that could also have held you back.

It does sound as if talking with your parents or carers, and your doctor, would help. It may be that all you need is some reassurance and some tips on healthy eating, or someone to talk to if there’s anything worrying you that needs sorting out.

This time, start off by telling your doctor you find this very difficult and embarrassing and that if an examination is needed you might like to think that over. It could help, for instance, if you took a friend or relative you trusted with you, and if the doctor was a woman.

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling shy. Persuade yourself, however, that if you are going to get some answers you do need to face up to asking those questions. Sometimes we have to put up with a few moments discomfort and embarrassment to get rid of weeks, months, of worry. Put like that, it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

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