Healthy living

Puberty – things that change for boys

Your body changes in puberty to become the way it will be when you are an adult.

You might gain some weight, just as you have done every year since you were a baby. You will also find changes happening to your body hair, your genitals and your breasts. All of it is perfectly normal.

Download the Boys & Puberty booklet (PDF 1KB).

(p.s. If you want to know what girls go through, have a look at puberty – things that change for girls.)

Voice

During puberty your Adam’s apple (larynx) gets bigger and your voice begins to ‘break’.

Your vocal cords grow quickly. As it is breaking, your voice will sometimes go squeaky when you are talking, but once it has finished breaking, you will have the deeper voice of a man.

Breasts

About one-third of boys will experience some sort of minor breast development during puberty.

This is normal and usually nothing to worry about. You may notice swelling or lumps under your nipples. Your nipples may also feel tender when clothing rubs against them. Wearing a cover such as a bandaid might help with this.

The swelling usually lasts around 4 to 6 months, but it may continue for longer. See a doctor if this is worrying you.

Body hair

Hair will start to grow under your arms and around the pubic area. This hair will be fine and straight at first, and will become thicker and curlier as you get older. You may also find more hair growing on your legs and arms. Hair will also appear on your chin and upper lip. Everyone has different amounts of hair, with some men being quite hairy and others less so. The full range is normal.

When should I shave?

Your facial hair will be fine and downy at first but will become more bristly as you grow older. You will probably not need to shave much at first; this will become more regular in your later teenage years.

When you begin to shave is a matter of choice. You might like to talk your decision over with a parent or a trusted adult before you begin. You may also like some shaving lessons from someone who has done it before! Avoid sharing razors with other people as it can pass on blood-borne viruses.

Genitals (sex organs)

One area of our bodies that we tend to focus much of our attention on is our genitals. The penis is an important part of your body that will change during puberty. Penises vary in size and appearance, but when an adult penis is erect they are mostly a similar size. So there is no need to worry if you think your penis looks a little smaller than or different to other people’s.

Male reproductive system diagram Male reproductive system diagram side view

Diagram 1 and 2: Male reproductive system (front on and side view)

The penis

How do I look after my foreskin?

Sometimes the foreskin – a fold of skin which covers the tip of the penis (glans) – is removed surgically at birth. This operation is known as circumcision. Doctors rarely recommend circumcision, but for some boys it is performed due to cultural and religious beliefs. In previous generations, circumcision was common, but now only about 10% of boys born in Australia are circumcised each year. Sometimes boys are circumcised for medical reasons, but this is not common. Regardless, the penis works the same way with or without a foreskin.

For those with a foreskin, it is very important to keep the area beneath the foreskin clean. The foreskin should be pushed back daily and the glans gently washed.

Why does my penis go hard?

One physical sign of sexual feelings for boys is when they get an erection.

When the penis is stimulated, or a boy becomes sexually aroused, it grows from being small, limp and soft to larger, erect and hard. The penis does not contain any bones and is not made of muscle. It becomes erect because the tissue inside it fills with blood under pressure.

Penises vary in size and appearance. There is a large natural variation, but when they are erect, they are mostly a similar size.

A thick whitish fluid is produced by the seminal vesicle and the prostate gland. This mixes with the sperm to form semen. At the peak of sexual excitement – when a male ’reaches climax’, ‘comes’ or has an orgasm – semen is pumped out of the end of the erect penis. This is called ejaculation. The milky fluid or ejaculate (‘come’, ‘cum’) contains 200 to 500 million sperm. During sexual excitement, but before orgasm or ejaculation, a small amount of clear fluid may be released from the penis. The clear fluid is called ‘pre-cum’ and can also carry live, active sperm

What happens to my urine when I ejaculate?

Semen passes from the testicles through the spermatic cord before being ejaculated through the urethra – the same tube that urine passes through. It is impossible for urine and semen to become mixed because the flow of urine is automatically stopped when your penis is erect.

What is a wet dream?

During puberty, you can become sexually excited or aroused quite easily. Ejaculations can happen while you are asleep. These are called nocturnal emissions, or ‘wet dreams’. Wet dreams are completely normal. They are your body’s way of getting rid of a build-up of semen in your body.

When you wake up after a wet dream, your sheets or pyjamas may feel slightly sticky. Sometimes you may remember the good feeling you had in the night, or you may remember nothing at all.

The testes

During puberty, there is a change in your testicles (testes).

With help from the male hormone testosterone, the testicles begin to produce sperm. Sperm are tadpole-shaped and their ‘tails’ help them move. This movement of sperm is important for reproduction. Sperm are so tiny that they can only be seen under a microscope.

The testicles need to be kept cool for the sperm to develop normally. This is why they hang outside the body in a sac (bag) called the scrotum. It is quite normal for one testicle (testis) to be larger or to hang lower than the other. At birth, some boys may have experienced what is called ‘undescended testicles’ where one or both testicles fail to move down into the scrotum. This is usually corrected after birth.

However, even testicles that have moved down into the scrotum will sometimes pull back up into the body, for instance in cold water, or during sex. This is quite normal. They will eventually move back into place on their own. Any concerns you have about differences in the testicles can be talked over with a doctor.

Why should I check my testicles?

Once you reach puberty, it is a good idea to regularly check the size and shape of your testicles. A good time to do this is in the shower.

The purpose of this check is to get to know the size, shape and texture of your testicles. It is perfectly normal for one of your testicles to be bigger than the other. But if you notice any changes in your testicles, especially an unusual lump, you must see a doctor. One of the most common cancers for men between the ages of 15 and 30 is cancer of the testes.

Sexual feelings

As your body changes during the course of adolescence, you may notice changes in how you feel physically and emotionally. These feelings help to prepare us for adult life, relationships, marriage, having sex and making babies.

It is quite normal to suddenly experience strong feelings, or crushes, for certain people, of the same or opposite sex. These feelings may remain private, or you may choose to confide in a friend, or express your feelings to the person directly.

Bear in mind that speaking your feelings aloud can put you in a vulnerable space. If your feelings are not returned by the other person, you may feel exposed and rejected. Or, if they are reciprocated, you may find yourself in an exciting new friendship or relationship.

It’s also completely normal to not have these feelings at this stage.

What if someone gets a crush on me?

You may find that someone feels strongly about you but that you don’t return these feelings. Try to treat this person with respect and kindness. Be honest and clear about your feelings.

Where to get help


Last reviewed: 07-12-2018
Acknowledgements

Public Health


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.