Boys and Puberty - Part 2
What's Up With Body Hair?
Body hair really gets going during puberty. Some boys will start to notice hair growing on their face around the chin, on the cheeks, and above the lip. Also, hair grows on the chest, the armpits, and even down there in the pubic region. Remember that there's nothing to worry about because hair is just one of the body's many ways of telling you that you are on your way to manhood.
You're growing hair in new places because hormones are telling your body that it is ready to change. Some of the hormones that trigger this new hair growth come from your adrenal glands. Other hormones come from your pituitary (say: puh-too-uh-ter-ee) gland (a pea-shaped gland located at the bottom of your brain). These pituitary hormones travel through your bloodstream and make your testicles ("balls") grow bigger and start to release another hormone called testosterone that also helps make your body start sprouting hair in your pubic area, under your arms, and on your face.
Boys don't really need to do anything about this new hair that's growing. Later, when you're a teen, and the hair gets thick enough on your face, you may want to talk with your parents about shaving.
Do I Smell?
You probably know what sweat is, but did you know that it's also called perspiration (say: pur-spuh-ray-shun)? How does it happen? Perspiration comes out of your skin through tiny holes called pores when your body gets hot.
Your body likes a temperature that is 98.6°F (37°C). If you get hotter than that, your body doesn't like it, so then your body sweats. The sweat comes out of the skin, then evaporates (this means it turns from a liquid to a vapor) into the air, which cools you down. Sometimes this sweat or wetness can be smelly and create body odor (sometimes called BO). During puberty, your hormones are working all the time, which explains why you sweat a lot and, well, sometimes smell.
What makes it smelly? The sweat is made almost completely of water, with tiny amounts of other chemicals like ammonia (say: uh-mow-nyuh), urea (say: yoo-ree-uh), salts, and sugar. (Ammonia and urea are left over when your body breaks down protein.) Sweat by itself is not really smelly, but when it comes in contact with the bacteria on your skin (which everyone has) it becomes smelly.
But how can you keep yourself from being all sweaty and smelly? First, you can shower or bathe regularly, especially after playing sports or sweating a lot, like on a hot day. You can also use deodorant under your arms.
Deodorant comes in many good-smelling scents or you can use one that's unscented. Some deodorants come in a white stick that you can twist up. Lots of people put this on after showering or bathing before they put their clothes on. Otherwise, the white stick deodorants can leave white marks on your clothes. You can also choose a deodorant that's clear instead of white.
You can decide to wear a deodorant (which helps stops the smell) or a deodorant/antiperspirant (which helps stops the smell and the sweat). If you find these products aren't working for you, talk with your doctor.
What About Erections?
An erection is what happens when your penis fills up with blood and hardens. The penis will become bigger and stand out from the body. Boys will start to notice erections occurring more often when they reach puberty. And they're perfectly normal.
An erection can happen at any time. You can get many in one day or none at all. It depends on your age, sexual maturity, level of activity, and even the amount of sleep you get.
An erection can happen even when you're sleeping. Sometimes you might wake up and your underwear or bed is wet. You may worry that this means you wet your bed like when you were little, but chances are you had a nocturnal emission, or "wet dream." A wet dream is when semen (the fluid containing sperm) is discharged from the penis while a boy is asleep. Semen is released through the urethra — the same tube that urine (pee) comes out of. This is called ejaculation.
Wet dreams occur when a boy's body starts making more testosterone. This change for boys is little bit like when a girl gets her period. It's a sign a boy is growing up and the body is preparing for the day in the future when a man might decide to be a father. Semen contains sperm, which can fertilize a woman's egg and begin the process that ends with a baby being born.
Although some boys might feel embarrassed or even guilty about having wet dreams, a boy can't help it. Almost all boys normally experience them at some time during puberty and even as adults.
But if you ever have pain or a problem with your penis or testicles, it is important that someone take you to the doctor.
You may think "Man, I don't want to go to the doctor for that!" But it's best to get problems like this checked out — and your doctor won't be embarrassed at all. It's a doctor's job to help you take care of your body — even that part.
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