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Dealing With Embarrassing Body Changes

What teen guys should know about body odor, sweat, acne, and other body changes.

Slow-to-Grow Muscles

A lot of guys are eager to get ripped – or at least develop some muscle definition – and are embarrassed when they can’t.

The most important message for you to hear is ‘be patient.’ Muscles need to be ready to grow. That doesn’t happen until later in puberty, when the body starts to produce sufficient amounts of the hormone testosterone.

In the meantime, lifting weights will help you build strength; it just won’t help you build muscle before your body is ready.

“You may get stronger but not any more defined if you are not at the point at which you will develop,” D’Angelo says.

If you do work out with weights, be careful and focus on doing lots of repetitions of lighter weights rather than trying to lift the heaviest amount possible, D’Angelo says. Otherwise, you risk overlifting, which can damage your growth plates.

Growth plates are areas of tissue at the end of your long bones – which include your leg and arm bones – that determine the final length and shape of your bones. They are the weakest part of your growing skeleton, and injuries to them can sometimes have a permanent – and bad – impact on your growth.

Get some guidance from a trainer or coach to make sure your technique is correct. No sense doing all that lifting the wrong way.

Boy Breasts

During puberty, some guys experience breast growth. This, too, is normal! It’s called gynecomastia, and it happens when the body converts of some of the male hormone testosterone into the female hormone estrogen.

Usually, it amounts to no more than half an inch of growth around the nipples, but in some boys it might be more pronounced.

D’Angelo says that most boys will have to live with it for a year or two before things settle down to normal size. That may sound like a long time, but the important thing to know is that nothing is wrong with you.

Inconvenient Erections

Is there anything more embarrassing than getting caught with your penis standing at attention when walking down a crowded school hallway? Sure, getting caught in gym class. Rest assured that all your guy friends are also getting involuntary erections at awkward moments, no matter how much they're pointing and laughing when it happens to you.

Erections can happen anywhere and anytime and for any or no reason. It is an unfortunate but completely normal part of puberty. 

And for guys worrying about what a sudden erection in the locker room might mean, the answer is: It means nothing. “It has nothing to do with erotic thoughts,” D’Angelo says.

Body Hair Where You Don't Want It

When puberty kicks in, hair begins to sprout up in all sorts of places. Facial hair announces to the world that you’re that much closer to manhood, and guys often take pride in the fact that they now have to shave.

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