Puberty: Adolescent Male
The teenage years are also called adolescence. During this time, the teenager will see the greatest amount of growth in height and weight. Adolescence is a time for growth spurts and puberty changes. An adolescent may grow several inches in several months followed by a period of very slow growth, then have another growth spurt. Changes with puberty may occur gradually or several signs may become visible at the same time.
There is a great amount of variation in the rate of changes that may occur. Some adolescents may experience these signs of maturity sooner or later than others. It is important to remember that these changes happen at different times for everyone. Being smaller or bigger than other girls or boys is normal as each child experiences puberty at his/her own time. The following are the average ages when puberty changes may occur:
- Growth increases between 12 to 16 years:
- weight: 15 to 65 pounds
- height: 4 to 12 inches
- Age of puberty: 9.5 to 14 years of age
Sexual and other physical maturation that occurs during puberty result from hormonal changes. As the child nears puberty, a gland in the brain called the pituitary gland increases the secretion of a hormone called follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This hormone then causes additional effects. In girls, FSH activates the ovaries to start producing estrogen. In boys, FSH causes sperm to develop.
In boys, it is difficult to know exactly when puberty is coming. There are changes that occur, but they occur gradually over a period of time rather than as a single event. While each male adolescent is different, the following are average ages when puberty changes may occur:
- beginning of puberty: 9.5 to 14 years of age
- first pubertal change: enlargement of the testicles
- penis enlargement: begins approximately one year after the testicles begin enlarging
- appearance of pubic hair: 13.5 years of age
- hair under the arms, on the face, voice change, and acne: 15 years of age
- nocturnal emissions (or wet dreams): 14 years of age
There are specific stages of development that boys go through when developing secondary sexual characteristics. The following is a brief overview of the changes that occur:
- In boys, the initial puberty change is the enlargement of the scrotum and testes. At this point, the penis does not enlarge.
- Then, as the testes and scrotum continue to enlarge, the penis enlarges mainly in length.
- Next, the penis will continue to enlarge in both size and length.
- Pubic hair development is similar for both girls and boys. The initial growth of hair produces long, soft hair that is only in a small area around the genitals.
- This hair then becomes darker and coarser as it continues to spread.
- The pubic hair eventually looks like adult hair, but in a smaller area. It may spread to the thighs and, sometimes, up the stomach.
The following are additional changes that may occur for the male as he experiences the changes of puberty:
- His body size will increase, with the feet, arms, legs, and hands sometimes growing "faster" than the rest of the body. This may cause the adolescent boy to experience a time of feeling clumsy.
- Some boys may get some swelling in the area of their breasts as a result of the hormonal changes that are occurring. This is common among teenage boys and is usually a temporary condition. Consult with your adolescent's physician if this is a concern.
- Voice changes may occur, as the voice gets deeper. Sometimes, the voice may "crack" during this time. This is a temporary condition and will improve over time.
- Not only will hair begin to grow in the genital area, but males will also experience hair growth on their face, under their arms, and on their legs.
- As the hormones of puberty increase, adolescents may experience an increase in oily skin and sweating. This is a normal part of growing. It is important to wash daily, including the face. Acne may develop.
- As the penis enlarges, the adolescent male may begin to experience erections. This is when the penis becomes hard and erect because it is filled with blood. This is due to hormonal changes and may occur when the boy fantasizes about sexual things or for no reason at all. This is a normal occurrence.
- During puberty, the male's body also begins producing sperm. Semen, which is composed of sperm and other bodily fluids, may be released during an erection. This is called ejaculation. Sometimes, this may happen while the male is sleeping. This is called a nocturnal emission or "wet dream." This is a normal part of puberty and will stop as the male gets older.
The adolescent years bring many changes, not only physically, but also mentally and socially. During these years, adolescents increase their ability to think abstractly and eventually make plans and set long-term goals. Each child may progress at different rates, and show a different view of the world. In general, the following are some of the abilities that may be evident in your teenager:
- developing the ability to think abstractly
- concerns with philosophy, politics, and social issues
- thinking long-term
- setting goals
- comparing oneself to one's peers
As your adolescent begins to struggle for independence and control, many changes may occur. The following are some of the issues that may be involved with your adolescent during these years:
- He/she wants independence from parents.
- Peer influence and acceptance is very important.
- Peer relationships become very important.
- He/she may be in love.
- He/she may have long-term commitment in relationship.
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Online Resources of Adolescent Medicine