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. Some boys put on weight just before the growth spurt starts.
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. You may also 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. This causes spots, or acne.
If you get spots, use a skin cleanser to make your skin less greasy. Don’t use ordinary soap. It dries your skin out, so the skin reacts by producing more oil – leading to 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.
It all depends on your genes. Some people are hairier than others. And don’t worry if you can’t see any new hair growing yet. For some boys, it starts when they’re 11, but others don't start growing hair until they're 15 or 16.
Around the age of 14, many boys have a growth spurt. This means you get taller, and your chest an shoulders 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 on 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 grow
Your penis and testicles grow during puberty. First, your testicles get bigger, then your penis. Your penis gets thicker and then grows 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
Sometime between the ages of 11 and 16, you'll probably 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 – when 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.
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.
The changes in your body can make you feel insecure. You may worry about whether you look attractive or whether other people like you. It can take time to get used to your new body. Don’t worry – it’s all part of becoming an adult!
Your voice breaks
Around 14, your voice ‘breaks’. This means your voice gets deeper. 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. Soon 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.
How do I know when I’ve started puberty?
It depends. The most common first signs of puberty are weight gain around the belly followed by a growth spurt and your testicles starting to grow.
Compared to other kids, why am I so much taller or shorter?
Not all boys grow at the same rate or at the same time. So, some boys may start their growth spurt early and others start their growth spurt late. Genes, diet, and even stress can influence your growth spurt.
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.