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.
If my urine and semen come out from the same hole, does my semen contain urine too? No. It’s true that both urine and semen come out through the urethra opening. But the urethra is a tube with two branches, one that goes to the bladder and one that goes to the vas deferens. When the penis releases semen, a valve blocks the branch to the bladder so urine doesn’t escape too.
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.