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Bullet Frequently Asked Questions by Topic

Boys to Men - For Boys ONLY ©
Answers to boys’ “What’s happening to my body?” questions
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1. What is puberty?
Puberty is the time when a boys’ body changes from a child’s into a man’s. The boy’s body prepares for the possibility of fatherhood.

2. What is a “growth spurt”?
A “growth spurt” happens before other
body changes. Boys grow faster, 2½ to 5 inches/yr. It can last 2-3 years. Some boys grow taller until they are 20 years old.

3. Why does a boy's body change?
Your testicles make the hormone testosterone. This causes your testicles, scrotum and penis to grow larger.

4. When will a boy grow?
Some begin to change at ten while others begin at fourteen. Both are normal. Many mature at the same time as their parents. Others begin earlier or later.

5. When does a boy's body stop growing?
Changes can occur over a couple of years. Some occur at a slower rate or even take five or six years. All are normal.

6. What happens first?
To make testosterone, the testicles must get bigger. So the first sign is a change in the growth of the testicles and scrotum. As testicles get larger, the scrotal sac hangs lower, gets looser, more wrinkly and reddens. Average age for these changes is 11½ yrs. old.

7. One testicle is bigger. What’s wrong?
Testicles may not grow at the same rate. This is normal and with time the testicles will get more even.

8. Why are the testicles and scrotum outside the body?
The testicles also make sperm. The sperm can combine with an egg to make a baby. Sperm are the smallest cells in body and need a cooler temperature than our normal 98.6 degrees. It is cooler outside of the body.

9. Why do the testicles change position?
The body protects sperm from heat and cold. A hot bath can cause the scrotum to relax so the testicles hang lower. They move away from the body’s heat so more cool air can surround them to keep the sperm cooler. If
it is cold, the scrotum can tighten up to bring the testicles closer to the body for warmth.

10. Why does one testicle hang lower?
Usually the left testicle hangs lower. This protects the testicles from bumping each other when men walk. Most boys find they are more comfortable wearing firm fitting underwear, a jockstrap, or cup-shaped protector while exercising or playing sports.

11. When does the penis begin to change?
About 13 yrs. of age the penis gets longer and wider. About a year later, the head of the penis enlarges and the penis deepens in color. By 16 years of age the penis of most boys is the adult size and shape.

12. How does the penis get hard (erect)?
The penis gets stiff, becomes hard and stands out. This is called an erection. It happens quickly or slowly. The penis has spongy tissue that can fill up with blood and make the penis hard.

13. What causes the penis to get hard?
Sexy thoughts, pants rubbing against the penis or even going to the bathroom can cause the penis to change shape. This can also happen when boys are not thinking about anything sexy or when they wake up in the morning. Sonograms now show us that baby boys have erections while they are still inside their mothers’ womb, several months before they are born.

14. What is the size of a man’s penis?
The grown man’s penis is usually between 3¼ and 4¼ inches in length. Nine out of ten men will have a 5 to 7 inch penis when it is erect. The size of the soft penis does not determine the size when it is erect. A 3¼ inch penis can gain three inches when it becomes erect and a 4 inch penis can gain two inches when it is erect.

15. What is an ejaculation?
An ejaculation occurs when the muscles of the penis contract to pump out the sperm. The ejaculate contains 300-500 million sperm in creamy fluid called semen. Sperm make up only 3% of ejaculate -- 97 % is fluid from the prostate and seminal vesicles.

16. When does the hardness go away?
An erection can go away by itself or the boy can ejaculate. If a man does not ejaculate, it can take seconds, minutes or a half hour. The penis becomes completely soft when muscles relax and the extra blood leaves the penis.

17. What are “wet dreams” and when do boys start to get them?
Many boys have their first ejaculation during a wet dream (13 yrs. of age). “Wet dreams” make room for new sperm. They can happen at night while sleeping or during a deep daytime nap. They do not happen when you are awake.

18. When does hair grow on a boy’s body?
Near 12 years of age, the hormone, testosterone, causes curly hairs to begin to grow around the base of the penis. The hair grows and gets darker, thicker and curlier. It grows on the scrotum and may also grow around the anus. Hair can grow towards the belly button and down towards the thighs.

19. When do you get hair on your face and underarms?
Between 14-16 years some boys notice facial hair at the outer corners of their upper lips. For some this begins before 13 and for others, it may not begin until 19-20 yrs. Underarm hair usually appears at the same time. A boy’s race and family pattern determine the amount and pattern of pubic and body hair growth.

20. Why does a boy's voice change?
Your larynx or voice box is the part of your throat where your vocal cords are. Testosterone causes it to grow thicker and longer. This usually happens at 14 or 15 yrs. old, but it can happen earlier or later.

21. What are the small, pimple-like bumps that some boys notice on the skin around their penis?
As the pubic hair begins to grow, some boys notice small raised bumps that can look like pimples. These are tiny pubic hairs trying to grow through the skin. Other boys may notice little bumps or dots on the skin of the penis or scrotum. These are oil and sweat glands that are beginning to develop.

22. Is breast change normal for boys?
The hormones can also cause the breast to change. The nipple may get a little larger. The areola, the darker skin around the nipple, will get darker in color and wider. Many notice a small, round, tender lump under one or both of the nipples. Some notice the breasts are swelling. This is not a sign that something is wrong. In 1-1½ years any lumps, tenderness or swelling goes away.

23. What can I do to stay healthy?
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Have five servings a day. Don’t forget boys need strong bones. Have at least four daily servings from the Milk Group. Try to drink 5 to 6 glasses of water each day.
Lack of water is #1 cause for daytime fatigue, dry skin & constipation.



Mary Lee O’Connell, CRNP - 8/04