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South African Journal of Child Health

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Evaluation of sexual maturity among adolescent male sickle cell anaemia patients: The usefulness of testicular volume estimation

UO Uchendu, ARC Nwokocha, AN Ikefuna, IJ Emodi, CN Onwasigwe

Abstract


Background. The use of Tanner stages (i.e. sexual maturity rating (SMR)) in evaluating sexual maturity has gained widespread acceptance. Tanner staging assesses pubic hair growth and increase in genital size, the latter factor being best reflected by increase in testicle size. Testicular volume increases are thought to be the most sensitive clinical indication of onset and progress of puberty. It has been suggested that the initial stage of sexual development may be missed if testicular volume is not assessed. We explored the usefulness of testicular volume (TV) for assessing sexual maturity among adolescent male sickle cell anaemia (SCA) patients. Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional case-control study evaluating sexual maturation of male patients with sickle cell anaemia and those with the HbAA genotype. Tanner staging and testicular volume assessment were both used as models for evaluating stages of sexual maturation among SCA patients and their normal counterparts matched for age and socioeconomic status. Results. SCA patients showed delayed onset and completion of sexual maturation. TV of subjects was smaller than those of controls but, when related to stages of sexual maturity, there was no statistically significant difference between the groups. The correlation coefficients between various stages of sexual maturity and TV suggest strong associations. Conclusion. The increase in testicular volume was found to be a good predictor of onset and progression of sexual maturity in both SCA subjects and their healthy controls.



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