This sticky briefly discusses the changes a boy's body and mind goes through during puberty. Puberty can be a difficult period during growing up and if you need any advice regarding puberty then please start a thread in the Body and Mind
forum or Private Support and Advice
Puberty is the process where a child's body changes physically into an adult's that is capable of reproduction. Boys usually start noticing changes at 12 and puberty is usually complete by the age of 17 or 18. A boy's body goes through six main physical changes.
Testicle size, function and fertility
This is the first stage of puberty and grow from about 2 - 3cm for about 6 years. After the boy's testicles have grown for about one year, the shaft will become longer and thicker until it reaches adult proportions. The testes produce both sperm and hormones. On average, sperm begins to be produced from the age of 13 but full fertility often doesn't occur until 14 - 16. Also, the scrotum becomes longer and hangs lower as the size of the testicles increase. This is to make room for the increase in size and also because sperm is very sensitive to temperature and so needs to be away from the warm body.
Pubic hair often begins to grow shortly after the genitals begin to get larger. The hair begins to grow on the lower abdomen and at the base of the penis. Hair also begins to grow on the upper thighs and up the abdomen in a line to the belly-button 12 - 24 years later.
Facial and body hair
From anywhere between a few months and a few years after the appearance of pubic hair, body and facial hair begins to develop. The usual order of growth is underarm, perineum (area between the scrotum and anus), upper lip, sideburns, chest and finally, chin and neck. There is a great difference between when hair begins to grow and how much hair each male has. Men tend to have much more hair as well as much thicker and darker hair than women. Facial hair becomes thicker and darker late into puberty and can continue to develop up to 10 years after after finishing puberty.
During puberty, the voice box grows in both boys and girls. In boys, the voice box grows much more and his voice will become lower by about one octave. When this happens, it is referred to as your voice "breaking" and usually lasts for about 6 weeks. When a voice is breaking, occasionally it will squeak during speech. This is because your brain has not learnt to control the vocal folds now they are bigger. Most boys will have a full adult voice by the age of 15 and before facial hair develops.
At the end of puberty, most boys will have heavier bones and about twice as much muscle. Not all areas grow at the same rate however. Shoulders tend to grow wider and many boys develop a larger jaw. It if often noticed that this growth can happen very quickly and is often referred to as a growth spurt and boys can grow up to an inch in height every month during this period.
Body odour and acne
The high hormone levels in the body during puberty is responsible for increased body odour and oily skin. This oil is what leads to spots and acne. This usually calms down at the end of puberty but adults can have sudden bursts of acne. In boys, this is usually the only noticeable physical change during puberty (when he is dressed) and so can be embarrassing. There are many products available from pharmacies or your doctor that can treat spots, acne and body odour.
The hormones that prepare the body for adulthood have a big effect on the brain and when they are at such high levels, it is difficult to control. Boys often find themselves attracted to girls and are keen to explore their sexuality with others as well as express themselves sexually. This is totally normal and there is no need to worry if you find yourself "horny" a lot. There is no need to be ashamed of the thoughts and feelings you are having because if you don't want to, you don't have to tell anyone.
Dealing with puberty
For boys, puberty is easier than for girls and often they do not need to ask their parents for help etc. If you are embarrassed about the changes your body is going through then the easiest way is to not tell anybody and keep yourself as clean and as hygienic as possible. No one has to know about the hair around your genitals or how you are attracted to are to someone. The only noticeable things are spots and your voice breaking. By washing regularly and keeping yourself as clean as possible, your skin will not be as oily and your body odour will be controllable with antiperspirant. When your voice breaks, it can be embarrassing when you squeak a little as you talk but it will only last for 6 weeks or so and after it will be gone for good.
Remember that everyone goes through puberty so you're not the only person going through changes. If you need to ask people about something, then don't be ashamed to. Just approach someone you can trust and ask them at a suitable time. Adults (teachers, parents etc.) will probably understand what you're going through and that you're confused about it and will be able to explain things and make you feel more comfortable with yourself. Puberty doesn't last forever and once you're done, you'll be a man.