|Frequently Asked Questions|
No one ever said puberty was going to be easy; it’s a long, exciting ride and one that everyone must endure. It's always useful if you know what's going to happen, whatever the situation. Puberty is no exception. This guide will tell you the ins and outs of puberty and everything else you need to know. This way, you will understand and will be prepared for your development. So why not begin?
Puberty. Essentially, it's when you're developing different parts of your body in order to become an adult. For example, the growth of your reproductive organs (boys, that’s your penis) is one of the many aspects. Puberty marks the development from an infertile child to a sexually developed adult. It is caused by hormonal changes - this is where your hormones act as powerful messengers; they tell your body what to do. The hormones are capable of stimulating the growth and changing of many different parts of your body – including your brain (e.g. sexual urges). Puberty is not a disease, condition etc., it is a phase in everyone's life that they have to get through.
So...what does puberty do?
Puberty does many things:
- Physical changes. These could include growth spurts, growth of pubic hair and an increase in penis size for boys.
- Psychological changes. These often cause teenagers to become moody, self-conscious, aggressive and experience mood swings.
- Behavioural changes. Lastly, these can cause some teenagers to experiment with new and potentially risky activities, for example drug use and sex – two activities that when used irresponsibly are commonly associated with teenage life.
Let’s get more depth of the physical changes (which is most likely why you’re here), here are some physical changes you will notice during puberty:
- You will get taller. There will be a stage called a 'growth spurt' where you grow very fast in a certain space of time, but you will also grow steadily throughout puberty when not on a growth spurt.
- Your shoulders will get wider and broaden.
- You will grow hair in new places; pubic, legs, arm, chest, facial etc.
- You will be able to develop your muscles more than before.
- Your voice will 'break' and deepen.
- Your genitals will increase in size.
Puberty can start between the ages of 10-16. The average age would be around 12. Typically, girls start puberty before boys. They usually begin between the ages of 8-14, their average being around 11. Everyone starts at a different time, there is no right or wrong time but if you are exceptionally late in starting (usually over 15), you can see a doctor who can help you to start puberty. Some people who have started late (often referred to as 'late bloomers') feel left out in class because their friends are taller than them and they remain short. There is nothing wrong with this and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. The majority of people care about their own personal development far more than anyone else’s, so it’s very unlikely anyone has even noticed.
For most boys, puberty will take five or six years to go through all of the “tanner” stages (more about that later). However, this is not the same for everyone. Everyone is unique. Puberty will usually stop in the early twenties for males, but it isn't always this way. You can have had everything that happens in puberty happen to you and it still may not be over, as you may have to grow more or things may have to develop further.
It depends on the person. There is no set way to feel, but if you are nervous, there is no need to be. It's something everyone goes through and is completely natural; don't feel embarrassed or upset about it. Every adult you know has gone through it, so will you. Of course, not everyone is nervous, embarrassed and upset. Some are curious, excited and willing when it comes to puberty. It all depends on the person. If you are feeling bad about puberty, chill out. Read the rest of the article and hopefully you'll understand exactly what happens and how it works. If you still have questions, there are always people who are very willing to answer them. Look for teen forums online such as GovTeen or VirtualTeen.
Tanner stages can be used to measure one's stage of puberty. Not everyone experiences puberty in the same sequence as each other, but tanner stages are generalised enough to create a proportional number to one's stage in puberty. You can find out your tanner stage by going here:
Although it explains the tanner stages on that website, here are the NHS's (National Health Service for the UK) descriptions of those stages:
Tanner Stage One
Tanner stage one is usually regarded as pre-pubertal changes. Your adrenal gland (glands that start at the top of your kidneys) will stimulate an increase in your body height, usually 5-6cm a year (2-2.4 inches).
Tanner Stage Two
Tanner stage two usually begins at about 12 years of age. Your scrotum will begin to thin and redden, and your testicles will increase in size. Some fine pubic hair will start to appear at the base of your penis. Your body fat usually decreases, while the increase in your body height will stay at the same rate of 5-6cm a year.
Tanner Stage Three
Tanner stage three usually begins after a boy has turned 13 years of age. Your penis will grow and lengthen, and your testicles will continue to grow. Your pubic hair will become thicker and curlier, spreading to the soft mound of skin above your genitals (mons pubis). Your breasts should experience some mild swelling. This is perfectly normal and does not mean that you will grow a pair of 'man-boobs'. Your may begin to experience 'wet dreams' which are involuntary ejaculations of semen ('cum') during your sleep. This can be embarrassing but it is perfectly normal and it is not your fault. If you want to prevent 'wet dreams' from soiling your bed clothes, wearing a pair of underpants while sleeping may help. During Tanner stage three, your voice should 'break'. You may find that the pitch and tone of your voice suddenly changes for short periods of time. The size of your muscles will increase, and your growth rate will also increase; usually to between 7-8cm a year (2.8 to 3.2 inches).
Tanner Stage Four
Tanner stage four usually begins at around 14 years of age. Your penis and testicles will continue to grow, and your scrotum will take on a darker appearance. Your pubic hair will appear more adult-like, but will have not spread to your inner thighs. You should begin to start growing underarm hair, your voice will change permanently, and you may develop acne.
Tanner Stage Five
As with girls, Tanner stage five is the final stage of puberty, and it usually starts at about 15 years of age. Your genitals will take on a fully adult-appearance and pubic hair will spread to the inner thigh. You will also begin to grow facial hair, and may have to begin shaving. Your growth rate should start to slow down, and will finally end at around 17 years of age. However, after this age, you may still experience a further increase in muscle size. Most boys will reach full adult maturity between 18 and 19 years of age.
As you probably know, puberty is great. Yes, you're growing. Yes, your penis is too. But unfortunately, puberty has its downsides. I'll tell you all about them.
During puberty, your body becomes more sensitive to the hormone testosterone, which is present in both boys and girls. The testosterone cause small glands in your skin to produce too much oil (sebum). Dead skin can also block the opening of hair follicles (the small tubes in your skin that hold a hair in place). The sebum can build up behind the blocked follicle, which can cause blackheads, or whiteheads, to develop. Hormonal changes will also alter the levels of acid in your skin, encouraging the growth of bacteria. The bacteria can also infect a blocked hair follicle, producing a deeper infection such as a spot (pustule) or a nodule.
Mild to moderate acne can usually be successfully treated using an antibacterial cream. However, if your acne is more severe, you should see your GP who may recommend antibiotic tablets (oral antibiotics) or/and a gel to put on your face. Most doctors are now sympathetic towards acne and will offer something even if your acne is fairly mild. If you’re living in the UK the treatment is free so you could save money instead of buying expensive spot creams that are unlikely to work.
During puberty, your body begins to develop large sweat glands around your armpits, breasts and genitals. These are known as apocrine glands. Apocrine glands release sweat in response to stress, emotion and sexual excitement. In some cases, the excess sweat can cause body odour. To control the smell, have a shower every morning and use a deordourant (odour controlling or anti-persperant). If you start to smell and do not take care of it, you may find people do not want to socialise with you anymore, or be too close to you. This is why it's important to ensure you keep clean. Remember that sweat smells fine to start with, but it is when the bacteria in the sweat multiply that the odour becomes noticeable. This is a good reason to keep your clothes clean, and wash daily.
Every male can get erections unless they have erectile dysfunction, which usually occurs much later on in life. Slang terms include “boner,” “hard on” or “hard.” An erection is where blood fills up the spongy tissue in your penis and makes it stiff. It happens when you are sexually excited or, in puberty, it can happen randomly. This can be very irritating and embarrassing but unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it. Some people find that concentrating on something very hard helps stop an erection, or thinking about something unpleasant. When males get older, they can develop a condition called erectile dysfunction. This is when they cannot gain an erection. They will need to take Viagra in order to get an erection when they have this. When your penis is not erect, it is called flaccid.
Erections can occur in the mornings when you wake up. This is known as "morning wood," they are caused by (similar to wet dreams,) having dreams of a sexual nature during your sleep. It's nothing to worry about and some people choose to masturbate in the morning to help get rid of it.
Unexplained Mood Swings
During puberty, you may feel happy one hour and angry, upset or frustrated the next, without really understanding why. This is normal. Mood swings are impractical and annoying and once again, they are all down to hormones. Even though it's hard, try not to let these mood swings affect others around you, this will make them feel unhappy which will disagree with your social life.
Low self esteem
Although some teenagers are good at hiding it, all teenagers have periods where they feel different to everyone else and think that they do not measure up. For example, you may find that you worry about your physical appearance and the slightest criticism or insult can be incredibly hurtful. This is normal. Talking to people and getting close to others can help resolve this, or at least make it better. Remember that you are normal, you do measure up and people love you.
The stresses and strains of puberty can make some teenagers short-tempered and aggressive. For example, you may find yourself suddenly furious with your parents over the slightest issue. Do not let your aggression affect others. Keep it in, hurting someone is wrong no matter how you feel. If you feel aggressive, try not to socialise with other people until you have calmed down. Take your anger out on something that won’t be affected like a computer game character or a punch bag.
Masturbation is something the majority of teenagers, and adults, do. It is where you stimulate your sexual organs in order to release sexual build-up. It is your choice whether you masturbate or not, don’t feel pressured to go either way. Many teenagers will find that, in fact, masturbating can help them cope with sexual frustration. It can also prevent wet dreams (ejaculating during your sleep) if you ejaculate in your masturbation session before sleeping. Masturbation can also help you sleep as it will tire you out and make it easier to fall asleep.
Masturbation is highly pleasurable, but should be controlled and should not be done so much so that it interferes with your social life. Masturbation can often be referred to as 'jacking off', 'jerking off' or in the UK, 'wanking'. Masturbation is not required, if you don't want to do it, don't feel that you have to. If you masturbate, it does not make you more normal than someone who does not masturbate and vice versa. Some people are grossed out by the idea of masturbating, but remember that lots of people do it. Even though some may be less open about it than others. Masturbation is said to have several medical benefits such as reducing the risk of prostate cancer and relieving stress.
In the eyes of many, masturbation is something to be done alone. However, sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where somebody wants to masturbate with you or you want to masturbate with someone else. This is normal. But even if someone asks you to, don't feel that you have to do it. 'No' means no.
Masturbation in couples is very normal. Masturbation in friends is quite normal, but it can ruin friendships if you’re not careful. If you are asked to masturbate with a friend, keep in mind that your friendship may change and you may feel more awkward around that person in the future. You may be surprised how common experimenting and mutual masturbation is in teenagers. Sometimes you may feel the impulse to do so, and that is OK.
Is it Wrong to Masturbate?
No, it is not wrong to masturbate. Most people will have masturbated before in their lives and it is a completely normal thing to do. If someone is telling you that it is wrong, accept they have their own opinion and have yours. It is a common misconception that society in general believes masturbation is wrong. Some people who masturbate are actually very scared someone will find them out because they think it is wrong when it is actually extremely common and normal.
For better or for worse, same-sex sexual experimentation is extremely common among teenagers. This can include mutual masturbation or can go further into sexual practices, however without sustaining an emotional relationship it is called 'experimentation.' Similarly some teenagers choose to 'cam' with other teenagers on the Internet. This could be considered another form of sexual experimentation, however before choosing to do this you should consider some factors. Firstly, how do you know the video of your camming won't be recorded and spread online. Secondly, camming is illegal and considered child pornography. And thirdly, it can be difficult to sustain good friendship with someone online you have done this with. You have to debate with yourself whether it is worth it, please also note that camming with other VT members is strictly against the VirtualTeen rules you agree to when signing up here and is punishable by a permanent ban.
Ejaculation is what happens when a man ejaculates his semen. Slang terms include "jizz," "cum" or "whizz" In some men, before ejaculation the extraction of 'pre-cum' can take place. This is just semen, which is used as a natural lubricant. It is important you understand that pre-cum can still contain living sperm cells, so “pulling out” before ejaculating during sexual intercourse is not a valid form of contraception.
Ejaculation takes place with an orgasm. The orgasm is the feeling of the ejaculation, and the ejaculation is when the semen and sperm exits the penis. Sometimes, before you have developed enough to make sperm, what you ejaculate will be clear. When there is sperm in your semen, it will look white. The amount you ejaculate will increase throughout puberty; don’t feel you are abnormal if you don’t ejaculate much yet. Ejaculation usually takes place either in sexual intercourse, or at the end of masturbation. A man must ejaculate to conceive a baby, as the sperm in the semen reaches the egg and fertilizes it.
In puberty, you will have raging hormones. These give you strong sexual urges that sometimes make you feel unsure about your sexuality. Therefore, sometimes you can be physically attracted to the same sex even if you are not homosexual. You should not make a decision on your sexuality during puberty; when you enter adulthood you might stop having such strong sexual feelings that make you sexually attracted to someone that you wouldn't be usually. Also remember that to be “gay” or “bisexual” you must have emotional attraction to the same sex (as well as physical). It is very, very common for people to have physical attractions to the same sex during puberty.
Many teenagers choose to label themselves with a sexuality. Sometimes this is alright, and can work well to find partners in the future however you should also consider the social impact of 'coming out'. Firstly, it is normal to have sexual feelings towards the same sex during puberty and doesn't necessarily mean you'll stay that way until adulthood. Secondly, in high schools and middle schools, society in general, it remains that there is a lot of homophobia. While it's unfair and wrong you should consider that perhaps it is not going to be beneficial to 'come out' at a young age. Furthermore, don't feel you have to label yourself. You don't have to fit into a sexuality, or having to tell everyone what you consider yourself to fit into. Be relaxed, take it in your stride and just move on. Sexuality affects you of course however labeling yourself isn't really going to effect the relationships you have with others, is it?
During puberty, you will grow pubic hair, underarm hair, facial hair, and possibly chest hair. Sometimes people find hair embarrassing, but there is really no need to feel embarrassed about any hair you may have. If you do not like your hair in a certain place, you can always shave it off.
Pubic hair will grow at different ages. It will spread around your genitals until growing into a snail trail up to your chest. It will also grow around your anus and your inner upper thigh. Some girls, or boys, like pubic hair to be trimmed. Not all do, however. It is your best bet to ask your partner how they like it and then you can act upon that for them. Don't, however, shave your pubes if you don't want to. It is a very private thing and should remain your decision. Shaving your pubes can be very itchy so it is sometimes a better idea to trim them, being very careful with scissors.
Underarm hair will start thin and short, then grow to be long and thick. It can vary from starting early to late in puberty. Underarm hair means more to clean under your arm pits to keep them smelling nice, so beware.
Facial hair starts with bum-fluff type stuff and eventually will become proper hair. As with any hair, it's your choice whether you shave it or not. If you are new to shaving, ask one of your parents to buy you a shaver and teach you how. It's quite simple and easy. You will not need to shave your facial hair everyday when you start, but only every few weeks. Eventually, you will have to shave more and more until it becomes a daily thing. You can stop at any time and grow a beard or get a style. It's all your choice and can be fun!
How do I shave?
Most boys decide to shave their facial hair during puberty. You won't need to every day at first, but rather every few weeks or even months. There are 2 basic types of razors: disposable and electric.
Electric razors are less likely to cause cuts, but they don't shave as closely as those with blades. Electric razors/shavers can be a very easy and useful alternative, however can be expensive.
There are two types of disposable razors. One type is used a few times and then it is thrown away. The other more expensive type has a razor head that you change but keep the handle. You'll notice that razors have different numbers of blades. A good choice is one that has triple blades or quintuple blades (5 blades, like the Gillette Fusion) that allows you to get a close shave.
When shaving it can be easy to cut yourself, so you should be careful. It is recommended to use shaving gel/cream/foam when shaving facial hair to avoid irritation to skin.
Sexual urges are present in puberty and can be stronger than in any other point in life so it’s something that you should consider very carefully. If you have a partner and you have reached the stage where sexual activity might become a part of your relationship, there are many things you should consider before jumping in.
- Are you emotionally ready? How will it affect your relationship with your partner? Are you educated on everything you need to know about sex? Are you ready not to consider yourself a virgin?
- Are you physically ready? Can you literally have sex, or would doing so be uncomfortable for you?
- Is it safe? Are you protected with condoms? Do you fully understand contraception? Are you using it correctly? Do you know what you’re doing enough to make sure you physically don’t damage yourself?
Yes, sex is pleasurable but just make sure that you’re not diving into something you’re not ready to do. Also remember there is a legal age of consent in most countries. It's very important to make sure you trust the person completely if you are under age. Make sure you both want to do it and are comfortable, especially if you are the older person.
During puberty, your vocal cords grow wider and longer. Your larynx (voice box) grows as well. This change to your vocal cords causes your voice to get deeper and lower as the vocal cords don't vibrate as quickly.
Some can expect this change overnight and some may experience it over a longer period of time. While that’s happening, your voice can go squeaky at times that may be annoying or embarrassing. It’s normal. It will go away after the vocal cords have grown completely and have evened out their tone. This can, unfortunately, take a while.
Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in males between ages of 15 and 35. This is why you need to know about it so early and check yourself regularly; especially after you turn 15. Check your testes about once every month so you can become familiar with their look and you can easily feel anything new or unusual.
- The best time to do a testicular self-exam is during a shower or after a warm bath. Here's how:
- Using both hands, place your thumbs on top of one of your testicles and put your index and middle fingers underneath the testicle.
- Roll the testicle gently between your thumb and fingers for about 30-60 seconds to feel the entire surface of the testicle.
- Feel the surface for any lumps or swelling.
- Repeat the above steps with the other testicle.
- Stand in front of a mirror and check your testicles and scrotum for any swelling or to see if one testicle is bigger than the other. (However, it's normal for one testicle to be slightly bigger than the other).
- If you notice any lumps or swelling in your testicles, consult your doctor immediately.
The penis is a male sex organ; it is made of soft, spongy tissue that is full of blood vessels. The end of the penis that is larger and wider than the rest or the penis is known as the glans or head, the rest is known as the shaft.
Like most other parts of the body, your penis needs washing and it's all pretty simple once you get going. Just roll your foreskin back when in the shower or bath and with just water, as smegma is completely water soluble, clean the white stuff on your glans (smegma) out. Simple as that. Dried on smegma may require a little soap, and perhaps a flannel. Make sure the soap is mild - for example the Johnson's Baby range works very well. This will hurt at first due to the fact your glans will be very sensitive as it will never have had contact before, but once you get used to it, it is fine.
50% of 15-year-olds have it. Tight foreskin is when you cannot roll back your foreskin because it is too tight to do so. Fortunately, it's curable. Many people are circumcised, which prevents it. However, circumcision for tight foreskins should only be used as a last resort; there is no need to where there are other ways. To treat your tight foreskin, slowly stretch your foreskin back every day for a few months - eventually it will be loose enough. Alternatively, a quicker method is to do the same but with steroid cream a doctor can prescribe to you.
Some people were circumcised when they were babies, because their foreskins were too tight to urinate. Some babies are circumcised due to social reasons. There is nothing wrong with being circumcised. It is more common in some places than others, there are many more circumcisions taken place in the United States than that of the United Kingdom. Some people like being circumcised, while others would prefer to be uncut. As the foreskin has many nerve endings that enhance sexual pleasure, some people consider circumcision to be damaging in that respect.
Most guys are paranoid, or boastful, about their penis size. It may be hard, but the best thing to do is to realise it doesn't matter. Any penis size is fine, as long as you can see it. A girl, or boy, won't mind if she, or he, likes you. Any person who will only date you because of your penis size shouldn't be dating anyway. During puberty, your penis still has time to grow. So even if you do measure it, it's not a useful number because the size of it will change. After puberty, you can take a measurement and know it won't change. The average penis size is about 6 inches. A broader average may be 5-7 inches. 4 and under being slightly under average, five or six being average, seven being large, and over seven being very large.
A very common question we get is "my penis is x inches long, I am y years old, will it get bigger?" the answer is a very loud WE DON'T KNOW!, puberty takes a different course for everyone and some people will do all their growing after 16 years of age, some before 16 years of age. The chances are though is that you will continue growing til you are about 17/18, but we can't tell you that for sure. Don't be worried about it, as long as your erect penis size is somewhere above 4" by the time you're an adult you'll be able to satisfy whoever you're supposed to be. "It's not how big it is, it's what you do with it"
There are a lot of questions that we hear a lot. Therefore, it would be best if I put them all with the answers here so you can get your information right.
I've been attracted to guys recently, am I gay?
How your hormones behave in puberty does not make you gay. In puberty, your hormones are crazy and they are releasing new chemicals and such into your body. Some of this gives very sexual thoughts and feelings, some of which can make you attracted to guys. Most people get these feelings in puberty and it does not mean you will be gay later in life. You should decide the label you give yourself once these feelings have stopped.
I keep getting an erection in class, how can I stop this?
You can't. Once again, it's down to hormones. Sometimes you just get random erections without thinking anything sexual. You can hide your erection in whatever way you like, it's your choice. To get an erection down sometimes reading long text helps and concentrating on something deeply can help.
I'm shorter than all my friends at school... any advice?
Some people have their growth spurt later than others. All you can do is wait. It's a pain, but it has to be done.
What can I do to prevent a wet dream?
Ejaculate before you go to sleep. Ejaculations in the night are much less likely if you have ejaculated before they happen. You can do that by masturbating the night before. If you don't want to masturbate, there's nothing you can do instead to ejaculate except have sex which you should not be doing unless you are really ready.
Everyone in my class is far into puberty and I'm not. What can I do?
Nothing. You're a "late bloomer" and there's nothing anyone can do about it. If signs of puberty do not start by age 15 or so, you should see a doctor and they can do something about it for you. Otherwise, just let happen naturally.
Do penis enlargement treatments work?
No. Let hormones take their time. Taking enlargement treatments will only damage you, even when you’re an adult.
I can't retract my foreskin, what should I do?
Please reference to Chapter 4: Section 2.
My penis curves to one side, is this normal?
It’s normal to have a penis that curves in a certain direction; in fact there are few truly straight penises. Never try to bend your penis back as it may be dangerous to your penis.
I felt something soft and bumpy in my scrotum. What is it?
You should see a doctor if you feel something unusual about your scrotum. It could be something like a varicocele, a harmless condition in which the veins in the ball sack swell and stretch. varicoceles usually feel like a sack of worms in your ball sack. varicoceles occur in roughly 15% of teenagers.
What are "blue balls"?
Blue Balls is a slang term for the pain that you might feel in your testicles when you have an erection for a long period of time without ejaculating. The feeling is temporary, however, and the pain will dissipate by itself if you wait a little while. You can also masturbate to relieve the feeling quicker.
What can I do to speed puberty up?
One thing - live a healthy lifestyle. Eat enough food to get your daily needs, exercise and get a good amount of sleep each night. This'll allow your body to grow the way it needs to. This is the only thing that will work. If you've been told anything else, it's a myth!
I have found little lumps that sometimes hurt when I touch/try to move them under/around my nipples. What are they?
These are called nodules and these are common, they're just fat deposits that will go away after a few months/years. It's nothing serious and nothing to worry about.
My penis is too small
Everyone thinks their penis is too small. In truth, in puberty there is no set size. Every size is right because you're still growing and everyone grows at different rates. When will it grow? Can't tell you, depends on the person. Does penis size matter? Once again, depends on the person but people with a decent moral compass will most likely say no. Girls shouldn't be as shallow as to care.
I have clear cum, can I make a girl pregnant?
YES! You still need to use a condom as even clear semen can contain some sperm, just not enough to make it white yet.
I have white spots on my scrotum/penis shaft. Do I have an STD?
These are most likely hair follicles. They might be Fordyce's spots - these are essentially little patches of fat in the skin. They're completely normal and almost every guy has them. Don't pop them - just let them be.
Can I get an STD/STI by eating my own cum?
No, but you can from eating someone else's cum if they are infected with an STD/STI.
When I masturbate, blood comes out. What do I do?
GO TO A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY! It could be extremely serious and require urgent medical attention.
I'm uncircumcised - how do I wash my penis correctly?
It's all pretty simple once you get going. Just roll your foreskin back when in the shower or bath, and with soap and water clean the white stuff on your glans (smegma) out. Simple as that. This will hurt at first since your glans will be sensitive, but once you get used to it, it is fine.
I'm having a problem with something you haven't mentioned...
Post it up in this forum by clicking here and we'll try to help you as soon as possible!