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Puberty for boys

Puberty is a series of changes that your body goes through in your early teens which help you develop into a young man. Your body starts to produce hormones which change your body and can also affect your emotions. Getting used to all the changes can be stressful.

Boy shaving his faceWhen boys start puberty

Boys usually start puberty between the ages of 12 and 18. Some boys start puberty earlier and some later. Everyone is different.

Puberty also lasts for different lengths of time for everyone. Puberty might take a couple of years for all the changes to happen, or for some boys it will take longer and be more like four years. This is completely normal and doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you.

When girls start puberty

Girls normally start puberty a bit earlier than boys - usually when they are between 10 and 16 years old. Find out more about what happens to girls during puberty.


You can start shaving whenever you have grown facial hair. You can buy razors and shaving gel or cream from a supermarket or pharmacy. Some people prefer to use electric shavers. If you have sensitive skin, you might have to be careful to make sure that you don't get a shaving rash from shaving. You can do this by washing your face before you shave. The blade on your razor will eventually become blunt. When this happens, you should change the blade or get a new razor.

You might not need to shave much at first but as you get older you may have to start shaving more often.

Voice changing

When your voice breaks this means that it gets deeper. It might happen quite quickly or it might take a while as your voice changes. During this time you might find it hard to control your voice and it might go very high or very deep when you don't want it to, but it will settle down eventually. It can feel embarrassing when this happens, but remember that it happens to most boys at some point.

What will happen during puberty?

You will go through lots of changes during puberty. Some changes may be noticed by other people but there will be some changes that only you will know about. During puberty, these things will happen:

  • You will get taller, bigger and more muscular.
  • Your voice will get deeper.
  • You will grow pubic hair – this is hair under your armpits and around your penis and testicles (balls).
  • You will grow facial hair on your cheeks, chin and upper lip.
  • Your penis and testicles (balls) will grow bigger.
  • You may start to get erections (which is when your penis goes hard and stiff) and this can happen at any time, even when you are not thinking about sex.
  • You might have 'wet dreams' which is when you ejaculate ('come' or 'cum') and release sperm in your sleep.
  • You might get spots.
  • You might sweat more.
  • You might feel more moody.

  • Will I need to wear deodorant or antiperspirant?

    As you go through puberty you might find that you sweat more. This is because your sweat glands change and produce more sweat to help control your body's temperature. It's important to wash regularly and wear clean clothes so that you don't smell. You can also wear deodorant or antiperspirant if you are worried about smelling.

  • What should my penis look like?

    Penises are all shapes and sizes. There is no right size or shape. Whatever size your penis is, you are normal. A penis can also change size. Sometimes it might be soft and small. Other times it may get bigger and harder.

    A cold temperature can affect the size of a penis and can make it smaller, but this is only temporary until it warms up again. Some penises are straight and some might be curved slightly. Both are normal.

    Sometimes watching online porn can start to change the way people see real life. In porn, the actors often have very large penises. Some of the men in porn have had penis enlargements – this is an operation to make their penis bigger. In real life, most males have much smaller penises than the actors in porn. Try not to compare your body to others. Everyone is different. Read more about how you look.

  • What is circumcision?

    A circumcised penis is one where the foreskin (the loose skin at the top of the penis) has been removed. Some men have this done as part of their religion, such as Jewish and Muslim men. Some men might be circumcised because of a medical issue. For example if the foreskin is too small or gets infected then it might be removed.

    Some men have foreskins and some don’t. Both are completely normal.

    If you are not circumcised, it's important to keep your foreskin clean so that you don't get any infections. You should clean under your foreskin every day. If you notice any discharge or fluid leaking from your penis, or if your penis smells fishy, you should go and see your doctor to get checked out.

  • What is an erection?

    An erection is when your penis goes hard and stiff. This usually happens when you are thinking about sex or someone that you fancy. It's normal for an erect penis to be slightly bent or curved and this is nothing to worry about.

    Sometimes you might get an erection even when you’re not thinking about sex. When you’re going through puberty, it’s normal to get an erection at times when you don’t expect it – like at school or on the bus. This may seem embarrassing but it happens to most boys. It’s likely to happen less as you get older. 

  • What are sperm?

    Sperm are made in the testicles (balls) and make up the semen that you ejaculate ('come') from your penis. Every time you ejaculate you can release 100 million sperm.

  • What is a 'wet dream' and why do they happen?

    A wet dream is when you get an erection and you ejaculate ('come') while you sleep. Usually wet dreams happen during dreams that have sexual images. Sometimes you might wake up from a wet dream, but often you will just sleep through it.

  • I'm having lots of sexual thoughts and feelings. Is this normal?

    It's normal to have sexual thoughts and feelings, especially during puberty when your body is changing. It can be confusing and strange at first but it isn't unusual. Your feelings should calm down after a while when your body adjusts to the changes. Read more on our sex advice page.

  • What is masturbation?

    Masturbation is when you touch your body and your genitals because it feels good or pleasureable. You can make yourself orgasm or 'come' by doing this. Both girls and boys masturbate and it's completely normal. It's a way of discovering your body, how it makes you feel and what kind of things make you feel good. Some people might say that it's wrong or that you shouldn't masturbate, but it's a normal part of life and not something to be ashamed of.

  • Am I masturbating too much?

    Some people masturbate often and some people hardly do it at all. Everyone is different. It’s normal to have urges or want to masturbate often when you’re going through puberty. However, it’s important to make sure this doesn’t lead to anything that makes someone else feel uncomfortable. For example, masturbating in public when other people are around is not acceptable.

    Think about if you feel uncomfortable with how often you do it. Do you find it hard to concentrate at school or while doing homework because you want to masturbate? Are you less interested in your hobbies? If this is the case, then it may be a problem. You could try masturbating slightly less each week until you are only doing it as much as you feel comfortable with.

  • Is it normal to get mood swings?

    Yes – mood swings are completely normal when you’re going through puberty. One minute you might feel happy and like it’s easy to get on with people, and the next you might snap at people or get annoyed easily. It’s normal to feel low or angry sometimes when you’re going through puberty. This is usually something that you will grow out of.

  • Who can I talk to about puberty?

    Sometimes you might have questions that you're too embarrassed to ask your teacher, parents or friends about. If you are worried or confused about anything it will help to talk about it. If you can't talk to someone you know, you can always talk to ChildLine and we will be able to help you. You could also take a look at the puberty message board to see what other young people are asking about.

Other sites that could help:

Visit the Brook website to better understand what happens to your body during puberty and to learn more about your sexual health.
Brook - boys and young men

Radio 1 has a useful factfile all about what happens to boys during puberty.
BBC Radio 1

Get more info about puberty and watch a video about growing up.
NHS Live Well

Puberty for boys message board

Find out what other young people are saying about puberty on the ChildLine message board. You can read what others have said or sign up to post your own message.

Go to the puberty for boys message board

Ask Sam

"Even if you haven't asked Sam a question someone else has, there is bound to be one similar to yours"

Go to Ask Sam

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Puberty for boys 


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