What is puberty?
Puberty is the physical process of changing from a child to an adult. It obviously affects your sexual organs, but your whole body is involved as you change shape and size, sometimes in a remarkably short space of time.
Basically, the process is as follows:
* Stage one (aged around nine to 12): you will produce hormones, mostly testosterone, in quantity. You may well find your height ‘shoots up’ now.
* Stage two (aged around nine to 15): your testicles (‘balls’) double in size (they will eventually enlarge sevenfold), but your penis will not have started to grow yet. You may find you start to get pubic hair. Your hands and feet may seem to be out of proportion with the rest of you, making you seem clumsier than usual.
* Stage three (aged around 11 to 16): your penis will get longer, but not yet thicker. Boys often grow very fast in this stage, putting on as much as a quarter of their total adult height. You will probably notice your voice beginning to change in pitch (‘break’).
* Stage four (aged around 11 to 17): your penis will now be growing in length and thickness. You may start to have ‘wet dreams’ as you ejaculate (‘come’) in your sleep. During the day, you may find you start getting involuntary erections at unexpected moments, which you might find embarrassing. Your underarm and leg hair may start to appear, and perhaps even a few wisps on your chin and upper lip. Most boys find their skin gets oily and probably spotty, and that their voice breaks (deepens to adult pitch). As this happens, your Adam’s apple becomes visible in your neck. Many boys are alarmed to find they seem to be developing breasts. This can be most disconcerting, but is nothing to worry about and should disappear within 18 months or so as your hormones settle down.
* Stage five (aged around 14 to 18): most boys will be their adult height and build now, though you might find you keep growing until into your twenties. You may have chest hair by now, and will probably be ready to start shaving.
What about emotions?
Puberty and adolescence are a very confusing time as you stop being a child, and it can seem as though you are in a battle zone. You will probably feel as though you have to fight your parents to achieve independence and privacy, and that even your own body is hardly yours as it is changing so rapidly. It may seem impossible to get your parents to understand you, but remember that they have been through it too. The more you can talk to them, the easier it will be. You will probably feel all sorts of pressures, whether from advertising, your peer group, girlfriend, teachers, parents or even yourself. Remember that your emotions and feelings will sometimes be unpredictable and unexpected. But it does get easier in time, and you will be a fully-fledged adult when it is all over.