Your body will begin to change on the outside. At the start, you may experience a growth spurt, which means you grow taller in a short period of time. Sometimes before that growth spurt, you might find you put on weight.
During puberty, your voice gets deeper; you become more muscular, and your shoulders get broader. Hair begins to grow on your face, under your arms, and between your legs. You begin to sweat more and have body odour. Also you may get spots, or acne.
All these changes are normal, and are caused by hormones. They can also be affected by your diet, and hereditary factors including your ethnic background.
In general, puberty ends by the age of 18 or 19, by then your body has matured into an adult body.
Changes on the outside
Skin and spots
For many boys, adolescence is a time when your skin begins to get oilier and produces more sweat. Sometimes this oil can block your skin pores and hair follicles causing spots, also called acne. If you get spots, use a skin cleanser to make your skin less greasy. Don’t use ordinary soap – it can dry your skin out and you may get even more spots.
During puberty, hair starts growing in different places.
You may grow a moustache or a beard. Hair also starts growing under your armpits, around your penis and anus, and on your testicles. Some boys may grow chest and back hair, while others may never grow any at all.
When you get hair and the amount of hair depends on your genes. Don’t worry if you can’t see any new hair growing yet. In some boys it starts when they’re 11 but with other boys it’s only when they’re 15.
Shoulders get wider
Around the age of 14, many boys have a growth spurt. This means you get taller and your shoulders and chest also get broader.
Girls start growing earlier than boys, usually when they’re about 12. Before you have a growth spurt, it’s common to put on some extra weight around your belly.
Many boys find they have swelling under their nipples, so they get enlarged or swollen breasts. This is normal. Some boys may experience tender or painful breasts. Also, one breast may be larger than the other.
Even though it’s common, many boys find it very embarrassing. Luckily it usually goes away within a year or two, once the changes of puberty have finished.
Penis and testicles
During puberty, your penis and testicles grow. First your testicles get bigger, then later your penis. Your penis first gets thicker, then longer. In most boys the penis has reached its full size by the time they’re 15.
During puberty you sweat more, especially under your arms. This means you’re likely to smell of sweat more. It’s perfectly normal.
Just wash every day and wear clean clothes. If you like you can also use deodorant.
Changes on the inside
Some time between the ages of about 11 and 16, you may have your first ejaculation. When this happens a clear or white sticky fluid called semen comes out of your penis.
Your first ejaculation can happen when you’re asleep during a wet dream - where you have a spontaneous ejaculation in your sleep. When you wake up, you find a wet patch in the bed. You haven’t peed in the bed, you’ve had your first ejaculation! You might also have your first ejaculation when you’re masturbating. Click to read more about masturbation.
Semen and sperm – what’s the difference?
Semen is the liquid that comes out when you ejaculate. It is a sticky white liquid that contains millions of tiny sperm cells. Each healthy sperm cell is able to fertilise an egg. Sperm can live for three to five days after ejaculation. Some sperm have lived up to eight days after ejaculation.
Laughing or crying
During puberty you can feel really happy one moment and gloomy the next. You start thinking more about everything – about yourself and about the world.
Because you’re body is changing a lot, you can feel insecure. You may worry about whether you look attractive or whether other people like you. You have to get used to your new body. Don’t worry, that’s all part of it!
Your voice breaks
Around 14, your voice ‘breaks’. This means your voice gets deeper. And it happens because your voice box, or larynx, and your vocal cords get bigger.
During this time, your voice may suddenly come out high and squeaky, and other times low and deep. Luckily this is only temporary. Over time, your voice becomes stable again.
During puberty, you often start fantasising more about a person you really like. This might be a girl or a boy. You also really want this person to like you. You may also feel excited or nervous inside when you see the person. And you might fall in love with them.
Thinking about sex
During puberty, you become curious about everything to do with sex. You think about sex more often. You may feel more excited or aroused in your body. Many boys like reading about sex, looking at pictures and talking about it with friends.
FAQs about puberty in boys
Let's admit that puberty is a difficult moment in our lives. Boys and girls nearing it have a lot of questions but are often ashamed to ask aloud. Here are blush-free answers to some frequently asked questions about puberty.
One of my testicles is lower than the other, is this normal?
Yes. This is completely normal. Usually, one testicle hangs lower than the other, and one may be slightly larger than the other. Healthy testicles feel like a smooth, firm egg. If you touch them gently, there should be no pain or discomfort. If you do feel pain, contact your doctor.
Sometimes I get an erection for no reason, is this normal?
Yes. It’s normal to have erections for no particular reason. These types of erections are also called spontaneous erections. You can get an erection while you’re eating dinner, riding a bike, watching TV, sleeping – in fact just about anywhere. It’s particularly likely to happen when you wake up in the morning. You can’t consciously control these kinds of erections.
During puberty, hormone levels in a boy’s body can go up and down. This can cause spontaneous erections. For some boys, it tends to happen less often when they become adults.
How do I stop spontaneous erections or unwanted erections?
If you find you’ve got an erection because something made you think of sex, you can try to think of something boring to make it go away! But unfortunately this won’t work for the type of spontaneous erections you can’t control. You can try wearing clothes that make your erections less noticeable.
I’m a 17-year-old boy, and one of my breasts is enlarged and painful to touch. What can I do?
During puberty, it is common for boys to have breast tissue grow under their nipples. When breasts become enlarged in boys or men, it’s called gynaecomastia. You can also find your nipples are tender and your breast area feels sore.
It is not a serious medical condition, and it tends to go away on its own, usually around the end of puberty, say 17 to 19 years old. But whether it’s common or not, for many boys it’s very embarrassing to have enlarged breasts.
If you still are experiencing painful or tender breasts after you are 18 or 19, you should ask a health care professional about treatment options.
Other causes of enlarged breasts:
Certain skin care products, such as lotions, soaps, and shampoos that use tea tree oil and lavender, may also cause gynaecomastia. Lavender and tea tree oil contain plant oestrogen, a hormone which can affect your body. If you stop using these products, the gynaecomastia usually goes away.
The side effects of HIV/AIDS treatment can also cause gynaecomastia.
My friend says he can ejaculate up to two teaspoons full of semen – is this normal?
No two boys or men are the same. The amount of semen you ejaculate depends on your genes. But it also depends how long ago you had you’re first ejaculation, and when you last ejaculated.
The amount of semen you ejaculate can range from 0.5 millilitres to 10 millilitres – in other words, between just a drop and two teaspoonfuls (a teaspoonful is 5 millilitres).
Is it okay to have unprotected sex with a woman while she's menstruating?
No. Sperm can normally live for three to five days in a woman's vagina and fertilise the egg if she ovulates right after her period. So, to prevent unwanted pregnancies, always use contraception when you have sex. Also use a condom as well to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Do you need a lot of sperm to get someone pregnant?
No. You may release millions of sperm in your semen, but it only takes one single, incredibly tiny sperm to fertilise an egg. So just the smallest drop of semen is enough.
Do I need to ejaculate every time after getting an erection to prevent ‘blue balls’?
No. Once puberty starts, guys produce millions of sperm each day. If sperm is not ejaculated, most of it gets reabsorbed and that’s OK.