Growing up is a very natural process. It begins from the day that you are born and continues well into your lifetime. However, upon reaching the age of 10-11 years, there is a sudden and more noticeable spurt in bodily growth. There is a change in height, weight, and voice, along with the appearance of body hair. You might also notice signs of a beard sprouting up. During this period, the body reaches its reproductive maturity. The changes you will notice during this stage are controlled by various hormones and glands and they mark the onset of puberty. Hormones, to be precise, are chemical substances secreted from the endocrine glands of the endocrine system. They travel through the bloodstream to tissues and organs and control most of your body’s major systems.
The human growth hormone is a chemical substance produced by the pituitary gland that causes physical changes to take place in the body. Growth hormones help you to grow taller and gain muscle mass. It helps you maintain healthy muscles and bones.
Testosterone is the male hormone that helps the body reach its reproductive maturity. During your puberty, testosterone accompanies the many physical changes in your body. It is normal to experience changes such as the increase in the size of your genitals, the appearance of hair under your arms and in your pubic region, and what is commonly known as a ‘morning wood’ or an erection upon waking up.
Appearance of Bodily and Facial Hair
During puberty, you will find hair appearing on your hands, your legs, under your arms, and in your pubic region. This is very normal. At first, this hair might be light and sparse, but as you advance into your puberty, it will become long and dense.
You will notice changes in your voice. This is because the voice box or larynx is growing. Soon, your voice will become heavy. Not all your friends will experience the same changes in equal measure, but that is perfectly normal. In some boys, the larynx may appear in the throat. This is called the Adam’s Apple. In some, it disappears after adolescence as fat and muscles develop.
As you grow older and enter puberty, you will notice physical changes in your body wherein you will find yourself taller, with more developed muscles, and with your body becoming heavier. Your shoulders too, will widen.
Skin Changes (Body Odor and Acne)
After you hit puberty, you will find changes taking place on your skin. You will start to sweat more, and the sweat combined with bacteria present on your skin, will produce a bad odor. Also, acne may start to appear on your face. Due to your puberty, your body might produce excess oil called sebum that causes acne to appear. Some of you might find it hard to deal with pimples and be subject to some secondary infections too. It is advisable for you to see a dermatologist to keep infections and pimples under control. Daily bathing and/or showering is recommended to keep bad odor at bay. Also, deodorants will help you to control your body odor (but do be mindful of its chemical properties!). Remember, maintaining personal hygiene is a great way to keep yourself healthy.
During puberty, the most prominent change that you will notice taking place in your body, will be in your genitals. Your penis and testicles will start to grow in size. You will find the scrotum growing bigger. Sometimes, you may find your penis erect. Erection is the hardening of your penis that takes place when sponge-like tissues in your penis are filled with blood. It can occur due to a number of reasons. Changes in your hormone levels, i.e., of testosterone, can cause erections. During such stimulations, your brain sends signals to the nerves and triggers an increase in blood flow through the arteries in the pelvis. As blood is pumped into sponge-like erection chambers, it causes valves to open and be filled with blood. The nerves in the penis then produce nitric oxide, which act as a chemical messenger to help maintain erections. The nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels, filling the spaces with more blood, and that is how the penis fills up to cause an erection.
This is totally normal and it occurs, as mentioned earlier, because your body is moving towards its reproductive maturity. Sometimes, you may also have wet nights. This happens when, during your sleep, your penis ejaculates sperm. These are due to ‘wet dreams’ where you may find your underwear or sheets a little wet and damp. Don’t worry. It is a normal biological response and will surely subside as your body reaches its sexual fullness.
Morning woods occur when your penis becomes erect while you are asleep and you may find yourself waking up to an erect penis. You shouldn’t be embarrassed by it because it is in fact a sign of healthy reproductive functions taking place within your body.
How to Deal With Inappropriate Erections?
Sometimes, you may have to deal with inappropriate erections or spontaneous erections. It similar to a morning wood but it may happen anytime – when you are at school, with friends, or while watching TV. Erections are generally associated with sexual arousal or activity, although it may not always be the case. Its appearance could be considered to be indecent behavior in public which can make you uncomfortable and embarassed. Inappropriate erections are totally normal and you have to deal with them cleverly in order to save yourself from unnecessary repercussions. You can for instance, use your bag to cover your spontaneous erections or maybe pull your t-shirt to cover the front of your trousers. Whatever you do, just remember that it is totally normal and it is a sign of healthy reproductive functions that need some creative solutions to address them, should they turn up in public.
The process of growing up and the physical changes that come along with it, are not the same for everybody. Some of your friends may grow taller, while some may become more muscular than you. Everyone is different and so everyone develops differently. Bear in mind, that we are all unique and special and you are too, in your own distinct way. The bodily changes that accompany growing into an adult are perfectly normal processes that everyone encounters and they are nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
Illustrator: Priyanka Tampi