Learn About the Stages of Puberty in Boys (2023)

A male child goes through many important changes during puberty. Their body gets bigger and stronger, their voice cracks as it changes, they become more muscular, and they begin to mature sexually.

While the entire process takes several years, there are five stages of puberty that children assigned males at birth go through. Puberty tends to begin later for males than females, and typically starts between age 9 and 14. However, keep in mind that the timing of when each stage starts and ends varies widely, so the age at which your child goes through them can be hard to predict. Learn more about the stages of puberty for boys.

Learn About the Stages of Puberty in Boys (1)

Tanner Stages of Sexual Development

Teens who were assigned male at birth will develop physically in certain stages, often called Tanner stages. Your pediatrician or family health care provider can determine what stage your tween or teen is at and if it's expected for their age. The Tanner stages, along with approximate age ranges, include:

  • Sexual Maturity Rating 1: (The prepuberty stage) The testes are small and the phallus (penis) is child-like. There is no pubic hair.
  • Sexual Maturity Rating 2: (From 10 years old to 15 years old) The testicles grow in volume and size. The penis has no or slight enlargement. The scrotum becomes reddened, thinner, and larger. A few pubic hairs become visible and they are long, straight, and slightly dark.
  • Sexual Maturity Rating 3:(From 10 years old to 16 years old) The testes continue to grow in volume and size. The penis becomes longer. The scrotum continues to enlarge. Pubic hairs become darker and curlier and more of them appear.
  • Sexual Maturity Rating 4: (From 12 years old to 17 years old) The testicles continue to grow. The penis continues to grow in length and now becomes thicker. The scrotum grows larger and also darkens. Pubic hair is coarse, thicker, and curly like adult hair, though there are fewer hairs than an adult has.
  • Sexual Maturity Rating 5: The testicles are of adult size (greater than 20 ml in volume). The scrotum and penis are of adult size and form. The pubic hair is of normal adult distribution and volume.

Is Your Child’s Sexual Behavior Normal?

Signs of Puberty in Boys

Males mature a little slower than females. For people assigned male at birth, puberty begins at age 11 on average, although starting as early as age 9 or as late as age 14 is still considered normal.

Some males mature faster than their peers, and some physical changes may be more gradual than others.

(Video) All About Boys Puberty

A number of these physical changes are very personal. As a parent, you may not notice them, but your child likely will. Some of these may be embarrassing experiences for them and they will likely keep much of this private.

Body Shape

Externally, you may notice your child's body begin to grow, but just before that happens, they may put on a little weight and look like they're all arms and legs. Next comes a growth spurt in height, often around the age of 13.

Their shoulders will broaden and their muscles will develop more definition, too. They will become noticeably stronger and can take advantage of that by beginning a regular workout routine if desired.

Sweating, Hair, and Acne

Personal hygiene is probably one of the biggest changes for young males. Pre-puberty, it may have been hard to get them to wash their hands or take a shower, but now they will need to pay more attention to these things as they start to sweat more and develop body odor.

They may soon come to you and ask about shaving the peach fuzz from his face or ask about antiperspirants. Their hormones will produce more oil on their skin and they may beprone to acne breakouts.

Puberty is the perfect time to introduce them to good skin care routines.

Penis and Testicle Growth

The first sign of puberty actually begins with the growth of your son's testicles and scrotum, which will more than double in volume. Their penis and testicles will begin to grow as they enter puberty, too, as will their pubic hair.

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The penis begins by growing in length, followed by width. Around one-third of males have tiny pearly bumps, called papules, on their penises. These bumps look like pimples and are normal and harmless, though they are permanent.

Papules on the Penis

Nocturnal Emissions and Erections

As your tween or teen develops, they may begin to have nocturnal emissions, or "wet dreams," in which they ejaculate at night while sleeping. This can occur with or without a sexual dream and is completely normal.

Talking to your child about nocturnal emissions before they happen is helpful so they know what to expect and that they didn't accidentally wet the bed. Let them know that it's just another part of puberty and that it'll go away in time.

Involuntary erections are another big part of male puberty and they can occur at any time, for absolutely no reason at all.

Explain to your son that this may happen for a while, and they will likely have little control over it, but they will gain greater control as they get older.

Voice Change

Your child's voice will change around the time that their growth spurt has begun to slow down a bit. This occurs because their vocal cords and voice box (larynx) gain mass. too. Before their voice changes completely, it may crack and soar, going from high to low quickly. This can be embarrassing for them, so be mindful of this.

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How the Voice Changes During Puberty

Breast Growth

When your child is first in puberty, their breast tissue may swell a bit for a year or two as some of their hormones change into estrogen. For the majority of males, this is temporary and not excessive, though, in some boys, it can be more obvious, especially if they're overweight.

If your child's breast area seems excessively swollen or the swelling happens before puberty or later in puberty, see your healthcare provider. There could be a medical problem that's causing this swelling rather than hormones from puberty.

Mood Swings

Boys often have mood swings thanks to the hormonal, physical, and emotional changes they're experiencing. Be patient and understanding; this, too, shall pass.

Note that puberty can be more difficult or confusing for children who are questioning their gender identity. Offering unconditional acceptance, support, and counseling, if needed, can help to ease their discomfort and boost their confidence and self-esteem.

Talking to Your Child

Your little boy is growing up and this also means that they may open up to you less often. It's common for teenagers to become less talkative and withdraw from their parents. Keep the lines of communication open and talk to your tween or teen about the changes they're experiencing.

Stay connected to their interests and talk to them about hobbies, sports, school, or whatever they enjoy. This will help them feel comfortable about coming to you when they need to talk about something important.

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Delayed Puberty

If your child hasn't started puberty by the age of 14, which means that his testicles and penis haven't started to grow yet, this is considered delayed puberty. The most common cause is called constitutional delayed puberty. Most males who are constitutionally delayed are totally healthy and will go through puberty eventually.

More than two-thirds of males inherit this from one or both of their parents who also started puberty late. In males, this can be defined as having no increase in testicle size by the age of 14 years old or continuing to undergo puberty for more than five years after the start.

In females, delayed puberty is starting menstruation after the age of 16 years. The majority of males who are constitutionally delayed are also short compared to other males their age, but this is just because they haven't had their growth spurt yet.

If your child has a chronic illness like sickle cell disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or cystic fibrosis, puberty may also begin later than normal.

A small number of male children have a condition called isolated gonadotropin deficiency (IGD), which means that they don't produce adequate amounts of the hormones LH and FSH. This condition typically begins at birth and is typically treated with testosterone injections.

An even smaller number of male children have something going on with their testicles that's causing puberty to be delayed. Testosterone is the main treatment for issues of this sort.

A Word From Verywell

If you have questions or concerns about how your child is progressing through puberty, talk to their healthcare provider. Their doctor can determine if your tween or teen is growing and developing as expected and help you understand the biology that's at work.

In the case of suspected delayed puberty, it's possible that your child's penis and testicles have gradually started to enlarge and they just haven't noticed. Your doctor can tell with a physical exam and can run some tests on your child's hormones to see if there are any problems.

(Video) Puberty for Boys | Signs that a Boy is Going Through Puberty & Adolescence Stage of Development

Age and Sequence of Puberty in Girls and Boys


What happens at puberty stage? ›

Puberty usually begins with the testicles and penis getting bigger. Then hair grows in the pubic area and armpits. Muscles grow, the voice deepens, and facial hair develops as puberty continues.

Why does puberty happen? ›

Puberty is the body's natural process of sexual maturation. Puberty's trigger lies in a small part of the brain called the hypothalamus, a gland that secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).

How much do boys grow during puberty? ›

Height increase averages out to be about 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) per year throughout childhood. Then there is a period of slow growth right before puberty. Once puberty starts, there is a sharp increase in growth of about 8 centimeters/year.

What age does a boy finish puberty? ›

Most girls finish puberty by age 14. Most boys finish puberty by age 15 or 16.

What age does a boy stop puberty? ›

Boys tend to show the first physical changes of puberty between the ages of 10 and 16. They tend to grow most quickly between ages 12 and 15. The growth spurt of boys is, on average, about 2 years later than that of girls. By age 16, most boys have stopped growing, but their muscles will continue to develop.

How many stages of puberty are there? ›

While the entire process takes several years, there are five stages of puberty that children assigned males at birth go through. Puberty tends to begin later for males than females, and typically starts between age 9 and 14.

Does puberty hurt? ›

Some young people get pains and aches in their legs and muscles as they grow taller. Sometimes this can cause pain and discomfort during or after exercise. Usually growing pains will go away on their own but if they don't, it's important to get checked out by a health professional.

What is the simple definition of puberty? ›

Listen to pronunciation. (PYOO-ber-tee) The time of life when a child experiences physical and hormonal changes that mark a transition into adulthood. The child develops secondary sexual characteristics and becomes able to have children.

What are the 3 types of puberty? ›

There are three types of precocious puberty that may affect a child: central precocious puberty (the most common type), peripheral precocious puberty and incomplete puberty.

Do boys grow after puberty? ›

According to KidsHealth, most boys complete their growth by the time they're 16 years old. Some boys may continue to grow another inch or so in their later teen years, and muscles will continue to grow into adulthood. Keep reading to learn more about growth in boys and what to expect.

What age does a boy become a man? ›

Age does not a man make.

While the law says a boy becomes an adult when he reaches the age of 18, the measurement of manhood is not his age. Nor is it the size of his muscles, or knowledge, or even the amount of hair on specific body parts.

How do you know puberty has ended? ›

Stage 5 is the final phase. Development typically ends in this stage. Girls reach physical adulthood. Pubic hair may extend out to their thighs, and some girls may have a line of hair up to their belly button. Most girls attain their peak height by age 16, but some may continue growing through age 20.

At what age do boys start liking girls? ›

In terms of an 'average' age, it seems to be 11 for girls and 12 for boys. But don't worry about averages… who wants to be average, anyway! Furthermore, even if his body says he is ready, intellectually, his mind might not be on the same wavelength just yet.

What is the time period of puberty? ›

Usually, puberty starts between ages 8 and 13 in girls and ages 9 and 15 in boys. This wide range in ages may help explain why some of your friends still look like young kids whereas others look more like adults.

How do you know if a boy has stopped growing? ›

NHS Choices: Puberty - Symptoms

. This period could last up to two years; after that, the growth rate begins to slow. By the time facial and underarm hair is present, the boy's voice has changed permanently and sexual development has completed, the rapid growth period is usually over.

How can I get taller? ›

What can I do to become taller? Taking good care of yourself — eating well, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of rest — is the best way to stay healthy and help your body reach its natural potential. There's no magic pill for increasing height. In fact, your genes are the major determinant of how tall you'll be.

Do boys grow after 18? ›

Growth charts show that majority of guys grow just a little after the ages of 18. In rare cases, some people may hit puberty in their late teens and continue to grow into their early twenties. The reason most guys stop growing at this age is because their growth plates fuse shortly after puberty.

What is the last stage of puberty for a boy? ›

Stage 5 is the final phase. Puberty ends in this stage. Boys finish their growth and physical development. Many may not develop facial hair until this step in the process.

At what age do boys start ejaculating? ›

The mean reported age for the start of puberty was 12.39 years (95% CI, 11.99-12.80 years). The mean age of the first experienced ejaculation was 13.59 years (95% CI, 13.05-14.12 years).

At what age do boys finish puberty? ›

Puberty is a process that takes place for several years. Most girls finish puberty by age 14. Most boys finish puberty by age 15 or 16.

What is considered late puberty for a boy? ›

Delayed puberty in boys is when puberty does not begin by 14 years of age. When puberty is delayed, these changes either don't occur or don't progress normally. Delayed puberty is more common in boys than in girls.

How many years do puberty last? ›

Once it begins, it lasts about 2 to 5 years. But every child is different. And there is a wide range of what is “normal.” Your boy may begin puberty a little earlier or later and finish sooner or later than his friends.

What is the first sperm called? ›

Spermarche—also known as semenarche—is the beginning of development of sperm in boys' testicles at puberty.

Are men born with sperm? ›

Men aren't born with ready-made sperm cells - they have to be made later, from puberty onwards. (Interestingly, when females are born they already have all their quota of eggs.) Spermatozoa are made in vessels, within the testicles, called seminiferous tubules.

Do boys grow after puberty? ›

According to KidsHealth, most boys complete their growth by the time they're 16 years old. Some boys may continue to grow another inch or so in their later teen years, and muscles will continue to grow into adulthood. Keep reading to learn more about growth in boys and what to expect.

What causes early puberty men? ›

Causes of early puberty in boys are similar to girls, and include thyroid disorders, abnormal brain structure, exposure to radiation therapy, and certain genetic conditions. It may also be caused by tumors of the brain, testis, liver, and/or adrenal glands.

What hormone is responsible for puberty in males? ›

Testosterone is the hormone that causes most of the changes in a guy's body during puberty.

What happens if you don't go through puberty? ›

Most cases of delayed puberty are not an actual health problem. Some kids just develop later than others - what we call a “late bloomer.” This has a medical name: “Constitutional Delay of Growth and Puberty.” In many of these cases, late puberty runs in the family.

Do men get a second puberty? ›

It's not an actual puberty, though. Second puberty is just a slang term that refers to the way your body changes in adulthood. The term can be misleading, since you don't actually go through another puberty after adolescence.


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