What Causes Early Puberty in Girls?

The causes of early adrenal puberty and early gonadal puberty are different.

Early adrenal puberty: Sometimes, early adrenal puberty is normal. Other times, a problem with the adrenal glands can cause your daughter to have early adrenal puberty.

Early gonadal puberty: There are 2 types of early gonadal puberty, which have different causes. These are:

  • Gonadotropin dependent puberty
    This type of puberty is caused by the pituitary gland making the hormones FSH and LH, which stimulate the ovaries to make estrogen. This can be caused by tumors, radiation or trauma in the central nervous system or can be idiopathic. This means we have not found a cause of the early gonadal puberty.
  • Gonadotropin independent puberty
    This type of puberty is caused by the ovaries working on their own or exposure to medication or products with hormones in them.

What are the Differences Among Sex, Gender Expression and Gender Identity?

Sex, gender expression and gender identity might sound similar, but they are actually very different terms.

  • Sex refers to the biology (chromosomes [DNA], genitalia and hormones) that a person is born with.
  • Gender identity refers to how a person identifies, such as male, female, transgender or a number of other terms.
  • Gender expression refers to how a person expresses their gender through their appearance (clothing, hair, makeup, etc.), behavior, names, etc.

The language around gender changes all the time. If you are not sure what to call someone, just ask! Gender was once referred to as binary, or simply male and female. This is not true anymore. Gender is a spectrum and there are many terms a person can use to refer to their gender. Gender is also a lifelong process of self-discovery and expression.

At MGHfC, we welcome patients of all genders and sexes. If you have questions about gender and/or sex and how it relates to your child’s pubertal development, ask the care team.

Learn More

Rev. 1/2015
MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.