The Facts about Puberty (for Guys)

From the WebMD Archives

"I'm getting hair in places I've never had hair before ... My voice is changing ... I think I've grown another inch overnight." This happens to every guy (and girl - but differently). It's the time when you physically stop being a boy and begin to transform into a man. It's when hormones in your body take over and cause things to change, grow, and develop. It's called puberty. Technically speaking, puberty is your body's way of transforming you into an adult, all for the sake of reproduction.

Starting at around age 13 or 14, you undergo a number of changes. Your ears, hands, and feet grow larger. You get taller and bulkier. Your shoulders broaden and your muscles get stronger. Your penis and testicles (balls) increase in size, as do your breasts (just temporarily, so chill!). Also, during this time, the testes will begin to produce a hormone called testosterone as well as produce sperm.

Your voice will begin to deepen, and you will begin to grow hair on your face and under your arms, as well as pubic hair.

Of course, no one can predict just when this will happen. It happens gradually over a period of time. Sometimes the transformation from a boy to man can take up to four years. Some males continue growing as late as age 21!

Here are some questions and answers about male puberty:

Q. I woke up and I can't talk in my normal voice. I try to sing, and I croak. When I talk, I sound like a rooster! I'm so embarrassed.

A. You can thank the androgens in your body for that. Androgens are hormones that control your male characteristics. They increase the size of your larynx (or voice box). Your larynx and the folds around it will thicken, and increase the lower tones or frequencies of your voice. While this is happening, you may experience periods of voice "cracking." The good news is that it's just a matter of time before you finally adjust to your lower voice -- although you may have a challenge singing for a while.

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Q. All of my friends in PE class have pubic hair and their voices are changing. When is that going to happen to me?

A. Soon enough! Puberty does not begin at the same time for everyone. Puberty can begin as early as 10 for some guys, and as late as 14 for others. Many factors determine when your body will start changing. They include genetics (if dad was late to reach puberty, you might be late), physical health, environmental factors, and nutrition.

Q. I woke up and my penis was hard, and there was a wet spot where I was sleeping, but I didn't wet the bed. Is this normal?

A. What you experienced is very normal. During puberty, most males go through times where they wake up with an erection. In fact, ejaculation (the release of semen through the penis) may be the first sign that you are going through puberty. The wet spot might have been because of a process called "nocturnal emission." When your body goes into REM sleep, your penis becomes erect. You may have a sexually arousing dream, called a "wet dream." Remember, puberty is all about preparing your body for reproduction. These sexual dreams are quite normal.

Q. I'm beginning to grow facial hair. When should I begin shaving?

A. Your face is now in constant change - and yes, the androgens are once again hard at work - adding their hormonal content to your facial hair. One of the first places guys begin to grow hair is under the arms and above the upper lip. Talk to your father or a man you trust to show you how to shave, or contact your local health professional.

Q. I noticed that I'm beginning to smell. Is it time for me to start wearing deodorant?

A. Probably so. The androgens in your body react in the blood and change the levels of your body odor (often referred to as "B.O."). Underarm deodorant should help with that. Also, be sure to wash yourself thoroughly under your arms and in your private area.

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Q. I'm beginning to break out and pimples are forming all over. What can I do?

A. Androgens are to blame for the changes in the oil (sebum) content of your skin. Acne and pimples are common for males going through puberty. If you want to control acne, there are many options available over the counter or by prescription. If your acne is troublesome or severe, talk with your doctor or a dermatologist about prevention and treatment.

Puberty can be both an exciting and awkward time for teens. Emotions are stirred all around as your body adjusts to each of these changes. Hormones are now a driving force in your being.

Sexual activity begins to be a factor in your life now, and it is important that you know all of the facts. Talk with your parents or a health professional if you have any questions. The more you know about your body, the more control you have over yourself.

WebMD Feature

Sources

SOURCES: Wikipedia web site: "Puberty." American Social Health Association's Iwannaknow.org website: "Puberty." American Academy of Pediatrics web site.

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