Puberty Changes In Boys: What To Expect

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

For most boys, puberty is an exciting yet confusing time. Their bodies change as their hormones race, creating new feelings and anxiety. Usually beginning between the ages of 9 and 14, puberty in boys leads to a number of changes in appearance, sexual development and emotions.

Changes In Appearance

When boys begin puberty, their bodies start to go through a number of physical changes that affect their appearance. Several areas of the body begin to change, including:

  • Muscles: Boys start developing more muscle during puberty.
  • Shoulders: Boys’ shoulders become broader during puberty as well.
  • Height: Boys grow in height quickly during puberty, often in response to growth spurts. Girls often start growing earlier, so it’s not uncommon for boys to be shorter than girls for a while before hitting their growth spurt.
  • Acne: Many boys develop acne during puberty. Fortunately, there are lots of over-the-counter products which are available for the treatment of acne.
  • Breasts: Some boys experience slight breast development during puberty, known as gynecomastia. This is usually temporary and disappears. If it doesn’t go away, see a doctor to rule out possible health complications.

Sexual Development

In addition to obvious physical changes, boys also experience extensive sexual development during puberty. Boys who are going through puberty will notice that their penis will grow in length and girth. Meanwhile, their testicles will also increase in size. It’s not uncommon for one testicle to grow faster or to hang lower than the other.

Boys will also begin to have erections more often during puberty. This is when the penis hardens and lengthens, and it usually occurs in response to sexual thoughts or physical stimulation. However, boys going through puberty sometimes get erections with no stimulation at all, including when they are asleep. This may result in a wet dream, which occurs when a boy ejaculates during sleep. Wet dreams are common among boys going through puberty.

Many boys also begin to masturbate more often during puberty as a way to process their increased sex drive in a safe and controlled manner. It’s important for boys at this age to understand that if they do act on their sexual impulses, they can potentially father a child.

Hair Growth

During puberty, boys begin growing more hair on their body in a variety of areas. Hair begins to grow on the face above the lips, on the cheeks and on the chin. Eventually, boys may need to start shaving once the hair starts getting dense and thick enough. Boys will also discover that hair grows in the armpits (underarm hair) and around the genitals (pubic hair) during puberty. Pubic hair tends to become coarser and thicker over time.

Boys may also notice that they sweat more once they’ve started puberty. This results in an increase in their body odor as well, so most boys begin wearing deodorant around this time.

Voice Changes

Another part of puberty is for a boy’s voice to deepen. This doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it usually happens slowly over a period of time. This might cause the voice to “break” or “crack” while a boy is talking. This simply means that the voice goes up or down in pitch as he talks. However, this is only temporary and eventually his voice will deepen permanently.

Emotional Changes

One of the most difficult parts of puberty for many boys is the emotional changes that they go through. These changes often occur as a response to the increase in hormones in a boy’s body and how his body is processing those changes. One common effect is that boys often go through mood swings during puberty. They may be feeling happy and jovial one moment and then very angry the next. Boys are much more prone to becoming upset or angry as a result of their increased emotional sensitivity during this time. Some boys also act more impulsively during puberty.

Feelings of anxiety or confusion are also common among boys who are going through puberty. This anxiety may have to do with the fact that they feel uncomfortable about their changing appearance. Others may feel anxious about the fact that they are starting puberty before or after most of their peers. Boys should be informed that puberty can start at very different ages and progress at different rates. However, if a boy has not started puberty by age 15, he should see a doctor to rule out possible health complications.

In addition, boys will also experience an increase in their sex drive once they hit puberty. This results in a number of responses, from developing romantic feelings for someone to having sexual thoughts or impulses.

Bottom Line

Boys go through a lot of confusing and startling changes during puberty. Though it’s a natural part of growing up, it helps if boys have someone they can talk to about their new feelings and appearance. Check your local health clinics or ask your doctor if you want to learn more about puberty in boys or find support resources for a boy going through these changes.


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