Puberty: Adolescent Male

Two teen boys with sports gear talking outside.How much will my adolescent grow?

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 happen 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 happen. 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 boys is normal as each child experiences puberty at his own time. 

What changes will happen during puberty?

Sexual and other physical maturation that happens during puberty result from hormonal changes.

In boys, it is difficult to know exactly when puberty is coming. There are changes that happen, but they happen gradually over a period of time rather than as a single event. 

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 happen:

  • 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.

  • The initial growth of pubic 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 happen 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 happening. This is common among teenage boys and is usually a temporary condition. Talk with your adolescent's healthcare provider if this is a concern.

  • Voice changes may happen, 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 happen when the boy fantasizes about sexual things or for no reason at all. This is normal.

  • During puberty, the male's body also begins making 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. Once sperm is made and ejaculation happens, adolescent males are able to reproduce. 

What does my adolescent understand?

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

Your adolescent's relationships with others

As your adolescent begins to struggle for independence and control, many changes may happen. The following are some of the issues that may be involved with your adolescent during these years:

  • He wants independence from parents.

  • Peer influence and acceptance is very important.

  • Peer relationships become very important.

  • He may be in love.

  • He may have long-term commitments in relationships.