What does puberty look like in boys?

Indicators include growth of testicles and penis, as well as body hair, deepening voice, and muscle development.

Adolescence is more than a period in your life when you have incredibly strange conversations with your nervous parents. It's also the period when both your body and your brain change, making you stronger, taller, hairier and able to reproduce, in addition to more perceptive and philosophical. This period of change between childhood and adulthood is called puberty, and it is the process of growth and sexual maturation that, for males, happens generally between the ages of 9 and 18.

It is no small feat. The capacity of the body to suddenly "come alive" and at the same time advance on many different fronts is nothing short of remarkable. Bones that have already been growing at an amazing rate reveal that they have just been getting ready for the real show. Glands that have been mostly dormant now produce hormones that tell different parts of the body to act. The mind that was once preoccupied with such things as how to catch a bullfrog or build a better kite now finds it can probe life for meaning, look for romantic relationships, and to plot and plan a course in life.

Of course, change has a price for young men: bones hurt, faces erupt in acne, fear and anxiety arrive with the onset of sexuality and expectations. Voices change, depression may occur and there often seem to be more questions than answers. Many boys start puberty early, while others don't experience it until they are older, and it progresses at different rates for everyone. This difference may cause embarrassment, anxiety and bullying, and maybe all three at once if you have an erection while being stuffed into a locker by a stronger boy.

While puberty begins and ends at different times for different individuals, usually beginning around the age of 10, though it may start as early as age 9 or as late as age 12, puberty always begins with the onset of a substance called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in the male's body. The release of GnRH is controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, the same section of the brain that controls your temperature and your sleep cycle, in addition to your senses of hunger and thirst.

Puberty has many stages occurring at varying rates and affecting each boy differently. Growing up from a boy to a man is not an easy task.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.