MSP Q&A: When do boys hit puberty?

Every now and then I peruse Yahoo Questions to see if there are any questions pertaining to sexuality that are in need of a response. Recently, a 14 year old boy wrote in because he was wondering when he was going to go through puberty. He hadn’t grown taller or had a voice change, he said, though he had noticed a few stray pubic hairs. Basically, he wanted to know when boys hit puberty. Here was my response:

Puberty is a gradual process and different “markers” of puberty (e.g., growth spurt, voice deepening, pimples, pubic hair, underarm odor) happen at different times. In general, puberty can take a few years and may begin earlier (such as age 12 or 13) or later (such as age 15 or 16). It sounds as though you are beginning puberty within the normal range of ages (which is fine!!).

You may not have noticed much change in your height or voice, but you likely will over time. After all, you are already noticing the growth of pubic hair (which is usually one of the earlier signs of puberty). My best guess would suggest that you will notice some significant changes during the coming year.

It’s also worth noting that boys generally mature (physically) later than girls do. That’s true when boys and girls are babies (girls generally walk and talk earlier than boys do) and it’s also true at puberty. During high school, more boys have caught up with the others. Speaking as a college professor, I can also tell you that some boys keep growing during college in height, muscle mass and more. You never know whats around the corner for you.

The process of puberty can be both exciting and frustrating. While you may wish that you could grow taller overnight, there may be an advantage to starting later: that is, you may take longer to gain height, but you may end up growing taller than some of your friends who began puberty earlier. Sometimes the guys who start early end up stopping their growth early, too, as there is a short period of time in which guys and girls have a rapid growth spurt. Yours sounds like it’s yet to come!

Also, while you didn’t specifically ask about it, many boys wonder when they will reach their full penis size. In case you are wondering about that, too, guys generally reach their full size somewhere around ages 16 to 18 (approximately) so you have time to go for that, too.

You can learn more about pubertal changes at And if you have any questions about your health or your body, check in with your parents and/or your doctor.


[You can read the full Q&A on the Yahoo Questions site.]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at