The timing of pubertal onset may be a fundamental marker of male reproductive health and can influence general health and risk of disease in adulthood, a new study has found. Pubertal onset marks the transition period between childhood and adulthood during which adult reproductive capacity is attained.
The age at pubertal onset varies considerably from 9 to 14 years and depends on individual genetic variations, epigenetic modifications, lifestyle and environmental factors. The findings showed that men who had early or late onset of puberty than their peers had a poorer semen quality and smaller testicles at the age 19 years.
Also, such men were found to be shorter, had a higher body mass index (BMI) and were often smokers. Delayed puberty has been associated with psychosocial problems, as well as, a risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Further, chances of sexually transmitted diseases were also found higher compared to men who had a normal pubertal onset.
“Understanding the implications of the timing of puberty for your future reproductive health is important, as we speculate that puberty timing influences general health and risk of disease later in life,” said Anders Juul, Professor, University of Copenhagen in Denmark. For the study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, the researchers examined 1068 Danish men at the age of 19. They were asked to complete a questionnaire including detailed information on whether pubertal changes occurred before, at the same time or later than among their peers.