If your son is starting to exhibit the tell-tale signs of becoming a man, you may be just as surprised yourself to see how fast he’s growing. While you can answer your daughter’s questions with experiences of your own, speaking with your son might be an entirely different story.
Here are a few questions he may ask and some answers you can feel confident in giving.
Is it Normal to Gain Weight During Puberty?
Definitely. An adult man has a broader and more muscular body than a young boy. Puberty is not a good time to limit the amount of food you eat. You are meant to put on weight during puberty because your body is growing. You are likely to put on more weight than your body needs only if you eat too many fatty and sugary foods and don’t exercise enough.
How Tall Will I Be?
It’s difficult to predict how tall you will be, but height is usually determined by heredity, that is, how tall your parents and grandparents are. If both parents are tall, chances are you will probably be tall. If both parents are short, you may be shorter. But this is not true for everybody. Occasionally, a boy will continue to grow or get another growth spurt in his late teens.
When Will I Shave?
It depends on how soon your facial hair appears and how thick it becomes, as well as your personal preference. Generally, heavy facial hair doesn’t develop until later in puberty, maybe not until you’re 16 or older.
Does Body Hair Mean You Have More Testosterone?
No, testosterone is the hormone that starts body hair growing. Your racial/ethnic group and heredity determine how much hair you have, not by how much testosterone you have.
What is the Ridge Down the Back of my Testicles?
What you can feel is the epididymis where the sperm is stored. There is an epididymis down the back of each testicle. If you find any other lumps, you should visit your doctor to get a full check-up.
Does Penis Size Matter?
Not at all! Penises vary in length and shape, but not as much as you may think. Remember, the size of your penis has nothing to do with your masculinity or fertility.
Why Do I Get Erections for No Reason?
It is normal to get erections at different times, even if you are not thinking about someone you're attracted to or sex. Don’t worry that someone will notice — erections are not as noticeable as you think. Try to ignore the erection, and it will go away on its own.
Do Men Stop Having Erections When They Get Older?
No. If a man is healthy, he can have erections all his life.
Will Wet Dreams Ever Stop?
You will experience wet dreams less frequently as your body progresses through puberty. Generally, as you grow older, you will have more control over your body. Some boys experience wet dreams regularly, while others have very few. It is nothing to worry about.
What if Someone Notices My Erection?
Most people are likely to notice you acting in such a way as to try to hide one than they are to notice you have one. Your best bet is to act naturally and don’t call attention to it. And remember, it always feels noticeable to you because you’re the one that feels it. But unless you’re wearing something tight fitting (like stretchy bicycle shorts) it really isn’t as noticeable as it feels.
It’s hard to truly nail down every question that boys can ask — or will ask — their mothers, but here are some more common ones that, on the chance they are asked, you’ll know the answer to.
Q: I have lumps under my nipples. Sometimes these are tender. They seem to have become larger. Are these breasts? Will they go away? What can I do about this?
You probably have a condition called “gynecomastia.” This is some degree of temporary breast development that often occurs in many adolescent boys (approximately 60 percent of 14-year-olds). It may consist of just small lumps under one or both nipples (which are often tender) and it may progress to further development so that the male breast has the appearance of small female breast. It may also involve changes in the nipple and areola (the dark tissue surrounding the nipple).
The areola may enlarge and protrude and show some change in colour. All this occurs because during puberty both boys and girls are producing more sex hormones, oestrogen and testosterone. And in some males, their breast tissue may be temporarily more sensitive to the effects of these hormones. (Not everyone knows that boys, as well as girls, have breast tissue under the nipple.)
Gynecomastia is usually not a problem. It occurs most often between the ages of 12 and 14 years and then goes away without any treatment.
Q: One of my testicles hangs lower than the other. Is this normal? What causes it?
Yes it’s normal. The right testicle hangs lower than the left. This is because the blood supply to the right testicle is different than the left. The testicle is suspended by a structure called the spermatic cord. This is like a rope or bungee cord. The spermatic cord contains the sperm duct, nerves, arteries and veins. The right spermatic vein attaches directly to the inferior venacava and at a level lower than the left spermatic vein attaches to the left renal vein. Hence the left side is held higher in the scrotum and the right side hangs lower.
Q: Is there a way to kick start puberty if I feel my body isn’t developing as fast as my friends’ bodies are? Can DHEA (steroid hormone found in males and females) be used to do this? Is it dangerous to take?
Occasionally endocrinologists or primary care physicians will recommend several injections of male hormone (testosterone) to “jump start” puberty in a male with a diagnosis of constitutional delay of puberty (late-starter). This may speed things up, but doesn’t result in a taller adult stature. There is no preparation of DHEA that is standardized or FDA approved for use in this age group. Therefore the answer to your question about using DHEA is no, it cannot be used. Use of any potent steroid hormone can be dangerous and harmful.
Q: When will I get muscles?
During puberty, some boys might become worried about their bodies after seeing what some of their friends look like. For instance, lots of boys are concerned about their muscles. You may have already noticed some boys starting to get chest muscles (called the pectorals or pecs for short). Others may have broad shoulders (the deltoids, or delts for short). Other boys might still be slimmer and smaller.
Remember that puberty happens on its own schedule, so there’s no rushing it if you’re a little slower to develop muscles. Maybe you’ve considered lifting weights to help yourself get bigger. It’s important to know that if you haven’t quite reached puberty, this will tone your muscles, but it won’t build up any muscles yet. Eating nutritious food and being active (like riding your bike, swimming, and playing sports) will help you be strong and fit. In time, you’ll reach puberty and you can start building your muscles, too.