Puberty and Boys

What is puberty?

Between the ages of 10 and 14 most boys and girls begin to notice changes taking places to their bodies. These changes which take place over a number of years also include emotional changes and are sometimes referred to as puberty.


Puberty starts when extra amounts of chemicals called hormones start to be produced in the body.

The changes take place in all boys and girls but they will start at different times. Generally the changes start later for boys than girls. In some people they start before the age of 10. Other people will only start to change after the age of 14. The changes also take place at a different rate in different people. In some people all the changes take place in 2 years. In other people they can take as long as 4 years.

Puberty starts when extra amounts of chemicals called hormones start to be produced in the body. These hormones guide the changes that take place in the body. As well as causing physical changes these hormones also cause emotional changes to occur.

What are the physical changes that take place in boys?

A boy’s voice gets deeper, his muscles develop and his chest gets broader. Hair starts to grow under his arms, and on his legs and face. In due course he will need to start shaving.

During this time his penis and testicles will also grow bigger and longer. Hair, often called pubic hair, will also start to grow at the base of his penis. He will start to have erections and he may have wet dreams.

What is an erection?

An erection is when a boy’s penis hardens and lengthens. Most erections are not straight, and tend to either have a curvy bend upwards or to either side. Many boys worry that their penis is smaller than other boys’, but most penises are around the same size when erect.

What is a wet dream?

A wet dream is when some semen (the sticky liquid that sperm is part of) comes out from a boy’s penis while he is asleep. A boy may remember he had a sexual dream. Or he may just notice a wet patch on his pyjamas or on the sheets when he wakes up.

It is a good idea for a boy to wash his testicles and penis, particularly behind his foreskin if he has one, after he has had a wet dream. Because a boy may develop an infection around his penis and testicles if they are not cleaned regularly, it’s a good idea to wash them daily.

What does it mean for a boy’s voice to break?

This is just a way of saying that a boy’s voice will get deeper. Sometimes it can happen very quickly, perhaps even overnight. Other boys may have a time when their voice is higher at one moment and then lower even a minute later. All boys’ voices will eventually settle down and sound deeper (lower pitch).

How often does a boy need to shave?

When a boy first has hair on his face, it is usually just a small amount on his upper lip and chin. This can be removed by shaving it off with a razor. Razors can be bought in most supermarkets and chemists. Using shaving foam or gel before a boy shaves will help reduce any irritation caused to his skin by shaving. At first a boy probably won’t need to shave very often. But eventually a boy will probably need to shave every day as this hair starts to grow back quickly.

What can a boy do if…

He get spots?

Almost everybody has spots at some time during their life. Most young people get spots around puberty. Washing your face more often with mild unperfumed or antiseptic soap and warm water may help. Some people find that not eating certain foods such as chips and chocolate can help. Other people say this won’t help because it is the higher level of hormones in the body that is causing the spots to occur. For some people drinking lots of water can be very effective in helping prevent spots.

It is important to try not to pick at, or squeeze, the spots as this can cause them to become infected. It may help to use some special anti-acne cream or lotion, which you can buy from chemists. If you get very bad spots, it might be acne which your doctor can help with by giving you pills or special creams.

He has mood swings?

Boys and girls may experience sudden changes in feelings during puberty. Feelings can swing backwards and forwards, and you may feel like laughing at one moment and crying the next. Sudden mood changes are partly caused by the increasing amount of hormones in the body.

Talking to a friend or someone you trust can help to relieve your feelings. Mood changes are only temporary, and will settle down with time.

He gets an erection when he doesn’t want to?

He can try sitting down and concentrating on something else.

He is not having wet dreams?

This is nothing to worry about as not every boy has wet dreams.

Someone says he smells?

As boys and girls’ bodies develop during puberty so too do their sweat glands. These glands are to help control the body’s temperature and result in more sweat being produced. The best way to reduce the risk of smelling is to wash and change your clothes regularly and perhaps use anti-perspirant deodorant on especially smelly areas, e.g. under your arms.

He is being bullied because of his size?

If a boy is being bullied because of his size or for any other reason, then he should talk to an adult.

He is unhappy about the way he looks?

The physical changes that occur during puberty can cause considerable worry for young people. Some people become worried because they are growing or changing faster or slower than their friends.

Height and weight are the two things that can particularly worry young people. But try and think about things you like about yourself and the way you look. Also remember that your body is changing and will keep changing.