What’s going on? Why am I changing? What am I feeling? What is puberty?
Why am I growing hair everywhere? What is happening to me? Suddenly, changes are beginning to take place in you and in your friends. These changes are occurring faster in some of you than in others. It can seem confusing and even embarrassing if you don’t understand it all. Sometimes, you feel really ignorant because you don’t seem to know as much about these changes as your friends do. You may find, however, that they really don’t know any more than you do; they’re just trying to act like they do. This brochure will try to answer your questions about your bodily changes and about your emotional ups and downs in a simple, but medically correct way.
Puberty is the time in your life when you stop being a little boy and begin to mature physically, emotionally, and intellectually into a man. Puberty is part of life. Every person experiences it — even girls! Puberty is an exciting phase of your life. As you begin to understand your body’s activities and the reasons for all these changes, you will be amazed at the incredible way your body works!
Your emotions may even begin to change from one moment to the next. You may feel great one day and very depressed the next. Don’t worry! The hormones causing your physical changes are rushing through your body affecting your emotions as well. These feelings are very normal, and so are you! Feeling sad or upset, or even crying occasionally helps you to become a fully developed, compassionate human being. Eventually, your body will adjust to these changes and you will feel more relaxed.
Your Reproductive System
The male reproductive system includes two testes, two vas deferens, glands, the urethra, and the penis. Your male reproductive system actually works together with your excretory system. The two testes, or testicles, produce sperm; the testes are located in a sac outside your body called the scrotum. They are located outside the body because the temperature for sperm production must remain below your body temperature. The scrotum and penis are located in the genital area of your body.
As puberty progresses into adulthood, millions of sperm are produced daily by the testes. Most of these are resorbed (recycled) by your body and the molecules are used elsewhere. However, if sperm are released from your body, they leave through the tubes called the vas deferens. The vas deferens leave the testes and join with the urethra. The urethra is the tube which leads from the urinary bladder and exits through the penis. The bladder and penis are also parts of the excretory system. Thus, the same tube which carries urine from your body also releases sperm from your body, although never at the same time. As the sperm quickly rush through these tubes, fluids from the seminal vesicles, the prostate gland, and the Cowper’s gland mix with the sperm to produce a fluid called semen.
When a male becomes sexually aroused, the penis gets very hard as blood rushes into blood cavities within it. This is called an erection. Contractions from the prostate gland and the seminal vesicles then push the semen out of the body. This is called an ejaculation. About 200 million sperm are released per ejaculation in about one-half teaspoon of semen.
Over the next few months and years, you will notice a variety of changes taking place in your body, and in your personality. You will experience growth spurts, your shoulders and chest will widen and deepen, your muscles will increase in size, and your foot size may jump at an amazing rate. All these changes are caused by the growth hormone from the pituitary gland in your brain.
You can also expect your beard and underarm hair to start growing, pubic hair to develop in your genital area, and your voice to “crack” and deepen somewhat, as your vocal cords relax. These changes are caused by the male hormone testosterone, which is produced by the testes.
As you pass through puberty, you may experience wet dreams, which are also called “nocturnal emissions.” These wet dreams are very normal, and simply mean that an ejaculation occurred in your sleep without you realizing it. It may be embarrassing to find semen in your pajamas or on the sheets; however, it is normal for your body to experience wet dreams. Involuntary erections also occur and are a normal experience. They happen without warning, regardless of your particular thoughts. Ejaculations do not occur every time you have an erection.
The size of the penis has no relation to how “masculine” you are or will become. Being “manly,” that is, becoming a real man, has to do with the development of character, not of body. You will also experience a desire to become more independent and make more decisions regarding the direction of your life. This is very important in order to become a responsible, mature adult. However, recognize that it may be difficult for your parents to “let go,” so take it slowly and the transition will go much more smoothly for everyone!
Your interests and friendships may also change as you change emotionally. As you develop new interests, you will meet new people who share those same interests; at the same time, childhood friendships may begin to break apart. There is no need to change friends just because puberty is in progress.
Again, take your time, reflect on what is happening in your life — where you are and where you want to be. Respect yourself, your goals and your values, and others will respect you, as well.
Caring For Your Body
As you grow during puberty, your body will need different care. For example, when you were a little boy, you could skip baths frequently. Now, however, it is very important for you to bathe every day. Your sweat glands under your arms and in your genital area (penis, scrotum and surrounding area) begin to produce increased sweat (perspiration) during puberty. As bacteria on your skin contact the sweat, an unpleasant odor can occur. You may not notice it, but others will!
Take a shower or bath every day and after strenuous activities, such as gym or sports. After you bathe, you may wish to use a deodorant or an antiperspirant. Always put on clean clothes.
Besides sweat, your oil glands (sebaceous glands) are now very active, producing an oily fluid called sebum. When sebum blocks pores in your skin and combines with bacteria, pimples (“zits”) can develop. Keeping your skin clean is the best way to prevent or lessen pimples; wash your face at least twice each day. Try to keep your hands away from your face; don’t pick at the pimples because an infection or scarring may result. If the problem persists, you may try anti-acne creams, lotions or cleansing pads. If these fail to stop the acne, talk to your doctor. He may recommend topical antibiotics or other medications.
Oil glands are also active now in your scalp. Frequently even daily –shampoo your hair to keep it fresh. In order to give a total picture of cleanliness, gently brush your teeth, gums and tongue at least twice each day to keep them healthy. Floss the teeth you want to keep.
When you think you should start shaving the hair on your face, talk with your parents about shaving and the type of shaving equipment you will need.
Eating balanced meals means choosing foods from all four basic food groups, especially calcium- and iron-rich foods. Every day, teens need:
- two to three servings of dairy foods;
- two to three servings of protein-rich foods (builds muscles and body organs);
- five or more servings of vegetables and fruits;
- four or more servings of breads and cereals.
Eat balanced meals and exercise every day — try running, fast walking, swimming, rope jumping, skating, climbing stairs, bicycling, tennis, soccer or aerobics. Before you begin to exercise, do some warm-up exercises to help prevent sore muscles and to help avoid serious injury.
brate Your Life!
You are in a very exciting phase of your life! Your future, with all of its promise, is just beginning to unfold. You are becoming a man and you are learning about your own sexuality.
Your sexuality, including your ability to produce children, is a marvelous gift, a precious part of who you are as a person. While fertility (the ability to father children) and virility are important to a male’s physical maturity, they do not make you an emotionally or intellectually mature man. The mark of a real man is good character and self-control.
As you pass through puberty, reflect on the amazing ways your body is adjusting into manhood so that at the correct time in your life, you will be able to father your children and take responsibility to care for and raise them. The proper, time-tested, stable environment for sexual expression is within a loving and committed-for-life marriage.
This is a time of your life when you must make many important, long-term decisions. The mark of true maturity is making wise decisions. By understanding your body and how it works, you will understand yourself and your life-giving potential better. Recognize the tremendous responsibility you have to protect and save your awesome gift of sexuality. You can use this gift in the most positive and wonderful ways in a life-long marriage relationship. Be grateful for your gift of sexuality and protect it until marriage.
Condoms do NOT protect you from 98% of the 15 million STDs contracted in the US each year; condoms often fail to stop pregnancy, and they NEVER protect your heart and your emotions.
“Safe Sex” is a deadly game;
“Saved Sex” is the healthy and smart choice of The Thinking Generation!
You are of incredible value and dignity. Respect yourself and others will respect you, too!
© 2003 Alabama Physicians For Life, Inc.