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Puberty in Boys

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 1, 2023.

What is puberty?

Puberty is a major change that happens in your body. It is a time when you grow very fast and your body changes into an adult body. Puberty usually starts between ages 10 to 14 in boys, but it may start earlier or later. You may not go through puberty at the same time or in the same way as friends your age do. Puberty usually ends by about age 15 or 16 in boys.

What will happen to my body during puberty?

  • Hair growth is usually one of the first signs of puberty. Hair will grow in your pubic area (the area between your legs) and armpits. At first, it may be scattered and light-colored. As you continue through puberty, your armpit and pubic hair becomes darker, thicker, and curly. Later in puberty, you may grow hair on your chest, back, and legs. You will also grow hair on your face, so you may need to start shaving. Facial hair may start growing on your upper lip first and then grow down the sides of your face and chin.
  • Face and skin changes include oily skin and acne (pimples). Acne affects nearly every teenager and many young adults. You may get acne on your back, chest, and neck. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to control acne. Keep your skin clean so that oil and dirt cannot build up and make your acne worse:
    • Wash your face 2 times a day with a mild soap that does not have perfume. Do not rub your skin hard with a wash cloth, because it may irritate your skin and make your acne worse. Ask your healthcare provider for directions on how to clean your skin if you have body acne.
    • Wash off sweat, especially after you exercise.
  • Growth spurts may cause you to grow 4 or more inches taller in a year. Some boys have one big growth spurt. Others have several smaller growth spurts. Your feet and hands will grow longer and wider. Your feet and hands may grow faster or finish growing before you see other puberty changes. Your arms and legs may grow longer and faster, causing your chest and waist to look short. Over time, your body will even out.
  • Changes in body shape include a broader chest and more muscles. You may become stronger, more coordinated, and muscular during puberty. Your penis and testicles may increase in size. Your breasts may have some swelling, and they may feel tender. This is normal. The swelling and tenderness will go away by the time puberty is over. You may gain 30 or more pounds during puberty. If you feel you are gaining too much weight, talk to a healthcare provider. Some weight gain during puberty is needed for normal growth. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly to help you stay at the right weight for your size.
  • Voice changes mean your voice may start to crack or sound different. This happens as your larynx (voice box) and your vocal cords grow. When they are finished growing, you will have a lower, deeper adult voice.
  • Body odor is caused by changes in your hormones. Since your skin glands are growing, you may find that you sweat more. To get rid of or help prevent body odor, take a bath or shower every day. Use deodorant on your armpits every day. Wear clean clothes that do not have the smell of body odor on them.

What are some other changes that I will go through during puberty?

  • Erections may be unexpected. Erections are caused by blood flowing quickly into your penis. Erections may happen because you have sexual thoughts, but they may happen for no reason. You will also wake up with erections. This is a normal part of puberty that happens to all boys.
  • Nocturnal emissions (wet dreams) happen at night while you are sleeping. You get an erection and ejaculate without realizing it. Ejaculation is when semen rushes out of your penis. When this happens, you will wake up with wet clothing and a wet bed. Even though this may surprise or embarrass you, wet dreams are very normal. You cannot control wet dreams. They will decrease as you go through puberty and should stop by the time puberty is over.

How will I feel during puberty?

  • You may have many thoughts and emotions. You may feel confused or awkward. You may get upset or mad at friends or family very easily. You may be moody without understanding why. This is caused by changes in hormones, and it is normal. If you are very sad all the time for more than 1 week, talk to someone. You may be depressed and need help. Talk to a parent, friend, teacher, counselor, youth leader, or your healthcare provider. Many adults care about your feelings and may be able to help you.
  • You may feel more tired and hungry. Puberty is a time of very fast growth. You may feel like you cannot eat or sleep enough. You need 9 or more hours of sleep each night. Eat healthy foods from all of the food groups. These include grains (whole-wheat bread, pasta, or rice), fruits, vegetables, dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese), meat, and fish. Healthy foods may help you feel good and have more energy. Limit the amount of junk foods you eat, such as chips, sweets, and fast food. These foods are not healthy, because they are high in fat, sugar, and salt. They are also higher in calories and may cause you to gain too much weight.
  • You may feel uncomfortable with your body. You may be embarrassed easily. You may sometimes feel unhappy or uncomfortable with the way you look. This may be true especially if you have friends who are developing slower or faster than you. Remember that not everybody goes through puberty at the same time or in the same way.
  • You may have changes in relationships. Your relationship with your family members may change. You may want to spend most of your time with friends instead of family members. You may feel like your parents do not know what you are going through during puberty. This is normal. It may be helpful to tell your parents how you are feeling so you can talk about it.

Care Agreement

You have the right to learn about puberty and to help plan your care. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about the changes you are going through. You always have the right to refuse care.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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