Signs of Puberty in Boys

image001There isn’t a precise age when puberty begins in boys, different bodies develop differently. While some boys will begin puberty earlier at the age of 9, others will start developing much later at 14 years. In other words, puberty begins when the body is ready for the developments. There are various signs of puberty in boys, with the most obvious being voice changes, hair growth and generally the body becoming larger and more masculine. Read on to learn about all the changes and how you can deal with it.

Signs of Puberty in Boys

Most boys begin puberty between the ages of 10 and 12 years. Some of the early changes that occur include: testicle growth, penis growth and the growth of pubic hair around the testicles and penis. These changes don’t just occur at once, they could go on until the age of 20 and there are various stages of puberty that boys undergo.

1. First Signs of Puberty in Boys

The first signs of puberty that boys experience are growth of pubic hair and testicle growth. The testicles grow to about 4 millimeters during the onset of puberty and at full sexual maturity, they measure at 25 millimeters. Boys develop differently from girls and the duration to reach full sexual maturity from puberty differs amongst different boys. While some boys can reach full sexual maturity in as little as two and a half years, other boys may take much longer duration – up to 6 years. Normally, boys who start puberty early reach full sexual maturity much earlier. According to a study conducted by Herman-Giddens, a team of doctors from the U.S, the average age that boys reach full sexual maturity is 15 years old. Close to a third will mature earlier by two years and it’s not always those who begun puberty earlier that are going to be the first to mature fully.

2. Physical Changes

A lot of changes occur during puberty and most are physical.

  • Growth spurts. To begin with, boys begin to have a growth spurts and their bodies start to develop quite fast. The boy’s height by the end of puberty will depend on various factors, a major one being genetics and the general height of other family members.
  • Growing pains. Most boys endure growing pains in their legs and arms and this can be an uncomfortable period. This is mainly because the bones grow at a much faster rate than the muscles.
  • Breast changes. Some boys will experience some swelling in the breast area, particularly under the nipples and this could begin to appear like breasts developing. However, this is simply fatty tissue and it is a temporary development.

This development is as a result of the hormonal changes going through the body and it is known as gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is quite common and it actually occurs in every two out of three boys. This development could go on for about two to three years.

  • Sweat and smell. Many boys in puberty ask "Will I smell?" Well this is just normal. You will also begin to sweat under the arms, with the sweat having a different smell. You may need to use deodorant or take a shower to rid the smell.
  • Voice change and facial hair. You voice becomes deeper and it may crack sometimes. This is because you are changing your voice to a full grown male. Additionally. You will also notice hair growing on your face.
  • Acne. You will also notice some acne breakout on your face.

3. Emotional Changes

During puberty boys begin to experience more sexual urges and thoughts. This is when a deeper attraction to girls or other boys occur. Most people develop their first crush at this stage and have more intense feelings. It’s also a period filled with mood swings and while one minute one may feel elated, this could easily change into a sad mood the next minute.

4. Special Note on Sexual Development 

  • Erections. Erections begin to occur at puberty and this happens when the penis is filled up with blood, thus hardening. The penis becomes much bigger and you will notice it as it stands out from the rest of the body. Boys will have more erections at puberty and they should not be worried about this either, as it is perfectly normal. Erections can occur at any time of the day, multiple times or you could have none at all. This will mostly depend on your sexual maturity, age, level of physical activity and the amount of sleep you get every day.
  • Wet dream. Boys will begin to experience what is referred to as a wet dream or nocturnal emissions. This is much different from peeing on your bed and it occurs when semen is discharged from the penis during an erection. This is known as ejaculation and it occurs a lot in puberty while asleep.
  • Is it normal? Wet dreams occur when the body begins to produce more testosterone and this change can be likened to how girls begin getting their periods. It is a sign that the boy is growing up and the body is preparing for manhood, meaning the boy can become a father. Semen holds sperms, which as you may already know are responsible for fertilization and the conception of a baby.
  • How to Deal with It? Some boys will feel guilty or embarrassed about experiencing wet dreams, but they should not. It is uncontrollable and a normal experience that affects not some but all boys at the puberty stage. If your experience problems or pain in your testicles or penis, it is important to seek medical attention.

    Signs of Puberty in Boys—Age by Age

    Ages and Stages


    Tanner Stage 1: Age 9 - 11

    Height growth by 5 – 6cm (2-2.4 inches)

    Tanner Stage 2: Age 12 years

    Increase in the size of the testicles, growth of pubic hairs and decreasing body fat. Height growth of 5 – 6 cm a year.

    Tanner Stage 3: Age 13 years

    Penis and testicle growth, thicker pubic hair, minor breast swelling, wet dreams, voice changes and muscle growth.

    Tanner Stage 4: Age 14 years

    Penis and testicle growth, darkening of the scrotum, adult-like pubic hair development, underarm hair, permanent voice change and acne development.

    Tanner Stage 5: Age 15 years and up

    More developed genitals, spread of pubic hair into the inner thighs, growth of facial hair and decreased body growth except for muscle growth at 17 years. Full maturity between the ages of 18 and 19 years.

Watch a video to learn what causes the changes in boys during puberty:

How to Deal With Puberty in Boys

Most teens will find that stress management tactics such as making music, writing, acting and other forms of art help them cope with their moods. Finding a creative or physical activity can help you manage the changes and mood swings brought about by hormones during puberty. Changing moods are normal and it is important to share your feelings, especially when you feel as though you cannot control them.

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