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When a boy starts the journey into his teenage years, puberty or adolescence begins. Part of this phase includes sexual development. During physical exams, his doctor will check to be sure that puberty has begun and is proceeding normally. The time frame for boys to get through puberty can vary significantly, but regardless of the age of onset, the signs are usually identical.
The average age of adolescence onset is 11 years old, though some boys start as early as nine and others do not start until they are 14. Between the ages of nine and 14, the pediatrician will periodically check for signs that puberty has begun. If by the boy's 14th birthday there are no signs of adolescence, testing can be ordered to be sure there are no medical conditions delaying its onset.
Typically, the first sign of adolescence in boys is that their testicles will become larger. In addition, the scrotum area will become red and the skin covering it will become thinner. The enlarging of testicles is usually painless, though some boys report mild discomfort.
The first publicly noticeable sign of adolescence in boys is that their voices will change. The larynx begins to enlarge, and the vocal cords grow longer, causing the voice to crack. This cracking in the middle of words or sentences may go on for several months to a year before the voice becomes deeper and more male-sounding.
Involuntary erections also signal that adolescence in boys has begun. They happen without sexual thoughts and can be embarrassing for young men to experience, especially if they happen while they are at school or out with friends. In time, these spontaneous erections will stop occurring as often. This goes along with the late-night ejaculations, another hallmark sign of adolescence in boys. They are uncontrollable and not tied to sexual thoughts.
During the first year or two of puberty, many boys experience breast swelling. They don't develop true breasts similar to a female, but swelling and tenderness are common. There may also be a lump under the nipples. Several months after the swelling appears, it disappears.
Body odor makes its appearance during adolescence. Oilier skin causes acne in many boys during puberty. Boys should be taught the importance of daily bathing at this time.
A primary characteristic of adolescence is a growth spurt. For the first two years following the onset of puberty, their hands, legs, feet, and arms grow more quickly than the rest of their body. This creates a gangly, awkward appearance for many boys. During this period, they are also typically more clumsy than usual.
Puberty is caused by hormone changes in the body. Once the body becomes accustomed to the changes, and the hormones decrease in intensity, the young man is no longer considered a boy and is instead a young man. If puberty has not begun by the age of 14, a medical opinion should be sought.
@mrwormy- For me, the hardest thing to get over was the voice change. When I was 14 and 15, I couldn't get through one sentence without a break or a squeak. My nickname was Shaggy, or sometimes Peter Brady, because my voice cracked just as much as their's did. I couldn't control it at all, so I tried to avoid doing anything in class that required talking. My lab partners always gave the reports, and I deliberately put off any speech classes until my senior year.
Yes, all of those other physical signs of adolescence were definitely a nuisance. I couldn't risk standing up in class and embarrassing myself sometimes, and I had to take at least two showers a day to handle the body odor situation. But squeaking and squawking my way through school for a few years was definitely something that bothered me a lot.
Thinking back on it now, I think the development of acne was the worst part of my adolescence. I had a really bad case of it, and the kids in my class called me "Pizza Face". Of course none of the girls would ever agree to go out on a date with me. They couldn't get past the appearance of those acne pustules, and honestly I couldn't really blame them. My skin was a mess, and my hair stayed oily all the time, too.
I tried a lot of different acne products during that time, but the only thing that helped was growing up. Eventually my skin caught up with my adult-level hormones and cleared up. I know that acne had to be related to puberty, since my skin was perfectly clear right up until the time those other signs of adolescence started.
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