PUBERTY IN MALES

 

Puberty is a very critical phase in the life of a child. It leads to physical, emotional, mental and sexual growth. The body starts preparing for reproduction. In boys, the onset of puberty occurs at an average age of 10 years. Since a lot of changes are happening in the body simultaneously, it creates a lot of confusion amongst teenagers. They feel depressed and socially awkward most of the times. Understanding this phase can prepare the child to deal with the changes better. 

Changes in boys during puberty

Testosterone - The Male Puberty Hormone

Although a lot of hormones are released during puberty, their impact is negligible as compared to that of testosterone.

Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for the growth of various symptoms that signal onset of puberty and sexual maturity in boys. 

  • Testosterone is released from the testes present in the scrotum

  • There is no production of testosterone in a biological male from the time of birth until puberty

  • Between the ages of 10 - 13, the GnRH hormone, released from the hypothalamus, acts on the testes, leading to a sharp increase in the production of testosterone

  • It is responsible for the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics and behavioural changes in males

  • The peak value of testosterone in the blood is attained at the age of ~18 and stays high until the age of 50, following which it gradually falls to 20 - 50% of the peak value

Changes in level of testosterone in boys across age

Stages of Puberty in Males

The whole phase of puberty can be divided into 5 stages. Each stage will represent changes at a different age.

Stages of puberty in males

Physical Changes due to Puberty

 

Primary Changes - Development of Sexual Organs

  • Penis and testicles increase in size as the process of sperm production (spermatogenesis) is sped up

  • The skin of the scrotum thins and becomes darker in colour

  • Pubic hair growth becomes thick and curly

 

Secondary Changes

Secondary changes in males due to puberty

Behavioural Changes during Puberty

  • Exhibition of sexual behaviour

    • Increased frequency of masturbation

    • Sexual arousal and erections caused due to smell or sight of a potential sexual partner

    • Dreams/fantasies resulting in sexual stimulation and nocturnal emissions (wet dreams)

  • Increased desire to be sexually appealing, arising from intense competitiveness among peers

  • Frequent crushes and infatuations on potential partners

  • Unexplained mood swings

  • Low self-esteem and depression arising from a perceived inability to be sexually attractive

  • Aggressive and rebellious behaviour as they experience the need for greater freedom from the cocoon of their home

 

PENIS - MAIN SEXUAL ORGAN

The structure of the penis

Penis is the primary sexual organ, used for the process of reproduction in males.

 

Facts about Penis

  • It does not have a bone

  • It is made up of spongy tissues. When a man is sexually stimulated, blood flow to his penis increases, making it hard

  • You can fracture the penis if these blood filled tubes burst due to excess external pressure

  • Most men get 3-5 erections during a full night's sleep. Each erection can last for approximately 30 minutes

  • Men will generally wake up with an erection in morning, indicating the good health of the penis

  • Penis also acts as an opening for the urethra

  • Urethra carries both semen and urine

Penis Size

Due to cultural and societal constructs, most men think of penis size as a representation of their masculinity, virility, courage and fertility. As a result, the size of the penis is a huge concern among growing boys. This can cause low confidence and self esteem in them.

 

The average length of the penis is around 9cm when flaccid and can grow to a size of 13cm - 17cm under stimulation.

 

Interestingly, some men believe that the size of penis is critical for the sexual satisfaction of the partner. The fact is foreplay, personality and attention towards the romantic needs, matters more than the size of penis. So, a romantic date might be all you need to make your partner happy!

 

Penis Shape

During erection, the penis may point upwards, point down, be straight or be curved. Penis naturally comes in different sizes and shapes and it is not a definition of masculinity. So, the shape and size of the penis shouldn't be a cause for worry, unless you are suffering from Peyronie's disease.

 

Peyronie's disease refers to the condition of curving of the penis when it is erect,

  • It can be due to an injury during sex or familial history of disease

  • In case of any discomfort or pain, consult an andrologist

 

Penile Erection and Stimulation

Sexual stimulation in males can be achieved by fantasising or dreaming about a sexually attractive partner, viewing or listening to sexual content, or directly rubbing or stroking the penis. This stimulation leads to increased blood supply to penile tissues which become rigid, making the penis hard. This is known as penile erection. 

 

Ejaculation

While the penis is still erect, continued stimulation builds up the sexual excitement. This leads to increased flow of testosterone in the blood.

Continuous massaging of glans penis (either due to masturbation or sexual activity), send the signal to the nervous system. (This is because the top of glans penis has millions of nerves endings). This causes epididymis (present in testicles) to release sperm in to vas deferens, which eventually leads to ejaculation of semen through the urethra. Ejaculation is also referred to as the state of orgasm in men.

 

Within 1 - 2 mins of ejaculation, sexual desire disappears almost completely and the erect penis becomes flaccid again. This is known as resolution.

 

NOCTURNAL EMISSION (WET DREAMS)

Wet dreams during puberty

Wet dreams are also knowns as sleep orgasms or nocturnal emissions.

 

What is a wet dream?

When a man ejaculates during his sleep, it's referred to as a wet dream. While you are asleep, the blood flow to your genitals increases, making them super sensitive. (This also explains most erections during night or early morning). So, if you have a sexually arousing dream, it will generally lead to ejaculation. You might not remember the dream when you wake up. You will only feel the wetness in your pyjamas. This isn't because you have urinated. During wet dreams, you only release semen.

If you have had a wet dream, don't panic. It's normal. Just wash your penis, scrotum and foreskin and put your clothes in washing. You are good to go !

Wet dreams are more common during puberty (as the testosterone amount is high in body) , but they also occur in adults, with reduced frequency.

 

Facts about wet dreams:

  • Wet dreams do occur to women, but are much rarer as compared to men

  • Wet dreams can occur even without a sexual dream and in most cases, you will not remember the dream

  • Sometimes, stimulation against the mattress can also lead to ejaculation during sleep

  • Wet dreams cannot be controlled and they are totally normal 

  • Wet dreams can be fun and they can help you explore your fantasies and sexuality 

  • If any of these dreams make you uncomfortable, talk to an adult or an expert counsellor

  • Not everyone experiences wet dreams and this is absolutely normal

  • This doesn't cause any weakness in the body

  • There is nothing embarrassing about a wet dream

  • Masturbation is not required for a wet dream​​