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Puberty for boys

8-minute read

Key facts

  • Puberty is a stage of development that coincides with your teenage years, when you will experience rapid physical growth
  • You may also notice changes to the way you interact with others, and how you understand yourself
  • At different times you will feel frustrated, excited and embarrassed by your changing body — this is all normal
  • Parents looking to support their child should try to maintain open communication and stay positive — this is a new and challenging experience for everyone

On this page

This page contains information about physical changes in girls during puberty. Go here if you are looking for information about physical changes in girls or emotional changes that teenagers often experience.

When does puberty begin?

Puberty is the time when your body develops and goes through rapid growth. Your body’s reproductive system matures, and so too will other body organs and systems. Your brain also goes through changes at this time that affect your emotions and behaviours.

Puberty happens because of natural substances in your body called hormones. For boys, puberty begins around 11 to 13 years of age, and will last for several years. The most important thing to remember is that everyone is different, and you will start puberty at the right time for your body, which may be different from other boys in your school.

How will my body change?

When you go through puberty, your body matures as you grow into adulthood. It may even seem as though some changes happen overnight, but in fact, growth and development usually take place over several years.

There are a few different changes to be prepared for.

Growth spurt

You will notice that you grow taller and that your hands, feet, chest and shoulders also broaden. Some parts may grow faster than others, so if you feel clumsy or out of proportion, don’t worry, the rest of your body will catch up soon. Often, boys will go through a growth spurt towards the end of their teen years, and you might grow between 10cm and 30cm between the ages of 18 to 20 years. If you notice some growth in your breasts, don’t be alarmed. This is a temporary part of puberty that will most likely go away by itself. If you are concerned, contact your doctor.

Body hair

Hair will begin to grow in your armpits and around your pubic area. It will first be thin and straight but will become thicker and curlier as you get older. The hair on your arms and legs also gets thicker and darker, and new hair appears on your chin and upper lip. At some point, you may decide to shave the hair on your face. Every man is different, and some will grow more hair than others; look around and notice how all men look different from each other, so don’t be worried if you do too.

Genitals

During puberty, your testicles (also known as testes or ‘balls’) will produce more of a hormone called testosterone. The increase in testosterone triggers other changes in your body, including an increase in the size of your testicles and penis. It's normal for one testicle to grow faster or hang lower than the other — this is nothing to worry about.

Sperm production

Once your testes go through puberty they will begin to produce more testosterone, which triggers sperm production. You will start getting erections and ejaculating; this is when your body releases the sperm from your penis. While this usually happens when you feel sexually excited, you may find that during puberty it seems to happen for no reason at all. This is common, and usually people don’t notice. You may also wake up to find that you have had an ejaculation while you were sleeping. This is known as a ‘wet dream’ and is also normal.

Voice

During puberty your vocal cords grow and your larynx (also known as your Adam’s apple) gets bigger. This causes your voice to ‘break’ and sound squeaky. Once this has happened, your voice will sound deeper — more like a man’s voice.

Other body systems

Your brain, bones, organs and other body systems also grow through puberty. Your brain will continue to develop, bringing changes to your behaviour. You may see a change in your problem-solving and decision-making skills — for example, your ability to control your impulses and make good choices.

Your body organs, including your limbs, will grow bigger and stronger, your lung capacity will increase, and your bones and muscles will get stronger and thicker.

You will also go through a number of emotional changes. Learn more about emotional changes that occur during puberty.

Eating healthily and staying fit are always important, but particularly as you take on more independence and form new habits in this stage of your life. Learn more about creating healthy habits.

What physical challenges will I face during puberty?

Voice breaking

It takes time for your larynx to grow, and you will have a squeaky voice for some time. However, once your voice cords and larynx have finished growing, you will have a deeper voice and you will sound more like your older male friends and family.

Timing

It’s normal for puberty to begin anywhere between the ages of 9 and 14 years old. Everyone is different and there is no way to know exactly when you will start to notice the signs of puberty. Hormonal changes start before physical changes and these can’t be seen from the outside, so it’s easy to think that puberty hasn’t started for you because you haven’t yet seen the physical changes.

Strength

As your muscles grow and strengthen and you grow taller, you may notice that you are more physical than you were before puberty. You might be stronger than you realise, so be careful not to underestimate your own strength.

Skin changes

You may develop pimples or acne, a skin condition that is common during and after puberty because of the hormonal changes occurring at this time. People with acne have spots or bumps on the skin of the face, neck, shoulders, upper back or chest. There are lots of different ways to manage acne. Maintaining personal hygiene is always important, but especially during puberty since your body is changing.

How do my relationships with others change?

Emotional changes go hand-in-hand with physical changes. These emotional changes help you prepare for adult life, relationships, sex and marriage. You may feel that you want greater independence from your parents and prefer to spend time with friends. You may develop a romantic relationship with someone or choose to spend more time with friends of another gender.

It is quite normal to suddenly have strong feelings or have crushes for certain people. You can decide whether to keep these feelings to yourself, talk with a friend or family member, or to tell the person directly. Sometimes your feelings towards someone else — or their feelings towards you — won’t be shared, and this can leave you or them feeling sad or rejected. You may want to talk to an older person whom you trust about how you feel.

You may also not have these feelings, or you may prefer to spend time with friends and family, and this is completely normal too. Read more about healthy relationships.

As a parent, how can I stay connected to my teen?

It can be difficult to parent someone who is going through puberty and you may find that your previous parenting methods are no longer effective. Maintaining good communication with your teen and making them feel supported is very important.

While you should accept and encourage your child to take steps towards more independence, it’s OK to have rules and expectations. Increasing independence comes with more responsibility, and communicating clear limits or placing conditions on new activities or behaviours will help keep them safe.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Resources and support

Professional support and resources are available to support you, including the following:

Resources for teens

  • Call Youth Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for support if you feel affected by anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts.
  • Visit Headspace to access group chats, online communities, and 1:1 direct support.
  • Call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or visit their website for free, confidential online and phone counselling and support.
  • Contact Reachout for online mental health information and advice across a range of topics, including relationships, stress and bullying.

Resources for parents

  • Parentline in your state or territory provides counselling and support for parents and carers.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2021


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