Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
CHAPTER ONE - Welcome to Puberty
What is puberty?
What is adolescence?
How long does puberty last?
How should I feel about puberty?
Why will my feelings change during puberty?
Why do I care more about what I look like? I never used to think about it.
What is happening to my voice lately? One minute it sounds squeaky and the next ...
CHAPTER TWO - Eating, Exercise, and a Healthy Weight
Why do I need to pay attention to what I eat?
How often do I need to eat?
How can I eat well at school?
What if I want to try out a different diet, like vegetarian?
How do I avoid sports injuries?
My parents keep bugging me about how much time I spend playing video games. ...
What changes can I expect to see in my body?
Is it okay for kids my age to lift weights?
How do I get the body I want?
What am I supposed to weigh?
What do I do if I think I’m overweight?
What do I do if I think I’m underweight?
What if I’m unhappy with my body?
What are anabolic steroids?
When will I start to get taller?
How much will I grow?
When will I stop growing?
Why are so many girls taller than boys in middle school?
Why do my feet seem so big lately?
What if I’m really unhappy with my height?
I’ve heard that there is some kind of medicine you can take to get taller. Is ...
I heard on the news that it’s important to build strong bones when you’re a ...
Why does my doctor test me for scoliosis? What is scoliosis, anyway?
CHAPTER FOUR - Your Skin, Teeth, and Hair
Why do I have pimples all of a sudden?
Can stress affect my skin?
What are blackheads and whiteheads?
What is acne?
How do I get rid of my pimples?
What else do I need to do to take care of my skin?
My parents are always telling me not to spend so much time in the sun and they ...
What is jock itch?
Lately, my feet sometimes smell. What can I do?
Are piercings and tattoos safe?
Why do I have to brush and floss my teeth every day?
When will I start to grow underarm hair?
Does having hair under my arms have anything to do with using deodorant?
What is pubic hair?
When will I start to grow pubic hair?
When will I start to grow facial hair?
Where will I first notice facial hair?
How do I shave?
How do you shave with a disposable razor?
How do you shave with an electric razor?
What should I do if I develop a skin problem from shaving?
When will I start to grow chest hair?
CHAPTER FIVE - Your Reproductive System—Inside and Out
What are the testicles and the scrotum, actually?
What is the penis made of?
What reproductive organs are inside my body, and what do they do?
Why does my penis get hard sometimes?
My penis curves to one side. Is this normal?
How will my genitals change as I get older?
I worry that my penis is too small. How do I know if I’m normal?
What’s the difference between a circumcised penis and an uncircumcised one?
What should I know if I’m not circumcised?
How should I take care of an uncircumcised penis?
Why do I need to worry about cancer in a testicle? I’m only a teenager.
I have some light-colored bumps around the head of my penis. Is something wrong?
I felt something soft and bumpy in my scrotum. What could it be?
My doctor says I have undescended testicles. What does that mean?
I have lumps under my nipples and they sometimes feel sore. What’s happening? ...
CHAPTER SIX - Erections, Wet Dreams, and Masturbation
Why do I get erections?
What do I do when I get an erection in an embarrassing situation, like in class?
What is ejaculation?
When will I ejaculate for the first time?
Sometimes I wake up with sticky pajamas. What happened?
I hear some kids talking about blue balls. What’s that?
What is masturbation?
Can masturbating do anything bad to me? Is it possible to masturbate too much?
CHAPTER SEVEN - Your Feelings
Why do my feelings seem to be changing so much lately?
I sometimes feel bad about myself. Why?
What can I do to feel better about myself?
It sometimes seems that my parents don’t understand me anymore. Why?
What should I do when I’m feeling angry?
I wish I felt more comfortable around people. What can I do about being shy?
Lately I’ve been feeling stressed out. What can I do about it?
Sometimes I feel really unhappy. Should I be worried?
My grandfather recently died and I’m confused about what I’m feeling.
I recently found out that my parents are separating. What can I do?
I feel weird talking about my feelings.
CHAPTER EIGHT - Relationships
What makes a good friend?
How do I make new friends?
How do I keep a good friend?
What should I do when I’m arguing with a friend?
What do I do if an argument is about to turn physical?
What happens if my good friend and I are growing apart?
We’re in middle school, but one of my friends acts like he’s still in ...
What is a clique?
I keep hearing about peer pressure. What is it?
Some of my friends have started shoplifting. They keep asking me to do it with ...
What should I do if my friends are trying to get me to try using drugs, ...
What if I’m thinking about trying drinking or smoking, like some of my friends?
What is bullying?
What do I do if I am being bullied?
What do I do if a friend is being bullied?
Is it possible that I am a bully?
CHAPTER NINE - What About Sex?
Why does it seem that boys and girls suddenly don’t have as much in common as ...
Why does it sometimes feel uncomfortable to be around girls now?
What, exactly, is a crush?
What do I do if I have a crush on a girl?
What do I do if a girl has a crush on me?
What if I have a crush on another boy?
When are teenagers ready to date?
How can I talk to my parents about dating?
How will I know when I’m ready to kiss someone?
Why is it better to wait until I’m older to think about being more sexual with someone?
What is sex?
What should I do if my friends are pressuring me into having sex?
What are STDs? How do people get them?
I still have a lot of questions about relationships. What should I do?


This is a very important, very exciting time in your life as you go through so many changes on your way to becoming an adult. Along with the transformation your body is undergoing, many other things in your life are changing, too. For example, your relationships with your parents and your friends may be different now than when you were younger, and people may treat you differently. Also, the way you look at things is probably not the same as it used to be. Of course, you have lots of questions. We at the American Medical Association have created this book to give you the answers to many of those questions—information that can help you grow up healthy and happy. You can also turn to your parents, your doctor, and other trusted adults whenever you need more information, guidance, or help. With more facts, you can make even better decisions to keep yourself safe.
In this book, you will learn how to deal with common concerns boys have, such as body changes, acne, and relationships. You will learn why it’s so important, even at your age, to eat a healthy diet and to be physically active. This book also discusses many of the issues that may soon be facing you or your friends, including how to resist pressure from other kids to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, use drugs, or start becoming sexually active.
The handy glossary at the back of the book explains some of the medical terms used in the book. Also at the end of the book, you’ll find a list of helpful Web sites to go to for more information.
We at the AMA wish you good health on your journey into adulthood!
American Medical Association

Michael D. Maves, MD, MBAExecutive Vice President, Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer
Robert A. Musacchio, PhDSenior Vice President, Publishing and Business Services
Anthony J. FrankosVice President, Business Products
Mary Lou WhiteExecutive Director, Editorial and Operations
Amy B. Middleman, MD, MSEd, MPHMedical Editor
Donna KotulakManaging Editor
Mary Ann AlbaneseArt Editor
Arthur Elster, MDDirector, Division of Medicine and Public Health, AMA
Missy Fleming, PhDProgram Director, Child and Adolescent Health, AMA
Mary R. Casek, MATEducational Consultant

Welcome to Puberty
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re about to become a teenager. There are a lot of great things about becoming a teenager. You get taller, bigger, and stronger. You get better at many of the things you enjoy doing, like playing a musical instrument, drawing, or being on the soccer team. You begin to have more freedom—to go more places and do more things with your friends. You may start dating. You may even get your first job and have your own money to spend in ways that you want to spend it. These things all make becoming a teenager an exciting time in your life.
This book will help you know what to expect as your body and mind go through some pretty major changes. It will answer most, if not all, of the many questions you are likely to have as you go through puberty. Of course, it’s also a very good idea to talk to your parents, other family members, a doctor or nurse, or other trusted adults about any concerns you have.
Hey! Don’t be shy about asking questions. Remember that all adults were once as young as you and went through the same changes!

What is puberty?

Puberty is the process that your body goes through as you grow from a child to an adult. During puberty, your body and mind change in many ways. Puberty is also the time when your voice gets deeper and you start to look less like a kid and more like a grown-up.
Some of the changes you will notice as you go through puberty:
• You get taller.
• Your shoulders get wider.
• Your muscles get bigger.
• You grow hair in new places.
• Your voice gets deeper and lower.
In addition to these physical changes, you might notice other changes in yourself. Your relationships with your family and friends might change, too. It’s not always easy to go through so many changes so quickly. Puberty can be exciting, confusing, scary, or no big deal—each reaction is perfectly normal.
Does this ever happen to you?
Your body seems to look and feel different every week.
Your voice cracks when you answer a question in class and you hope no one noticed.
You spend more time with new friends than with old ones.

What is adolescence?

Adolescence is the period of time between the end of childhood development and adulthood. This period starts at about age 11 or 12 and continues through the late teen years and early 20s. Adolescence is a time of change—learning who you are and who you want to become—and it includes the path to getting there.

How long does puberty last?

Puberty generally starts sometime between the ages of 9 and 14. For many boys, it takes about 5 to 6 years to go through all the different stages of puberty. But every boy is unique and will go through puberty in his own way and at his own pace.
You might notice that some boys in your class seem to be finishing the last stage of puberty while other boys seem to still be in the first stage. This is normal, because there is no exact timetable for puberty that everyone follows.

How should I feel about puberty?

Different boys have different feelings about starting puberty. Some boys can’t wait to see changes in their body. They feel ready to look and act more like an adult. Other boys are not quite so ready. They’re still interested in their old toys and games and are comfortable still being a kid. And some boys alternate between feeling ready and feeling not quite so ready to move on. Whichever of these ways you feel is normal.
It can be hard to be one of the first boys in class to go through puberty. You may feel that people expect you to act older than you really are. Or some kids may tease you about your facial hair or having to use deodorant before everyone else.
Whether you go through puberty early or late, you’re going to go through it in your own way. Try to focus more on enjoying it than worrying about when it will happen!
It can also be hard to start puberty later than your friends. It can seem like people still see you as a younger kid. Or you might be teased for being shorter or smaller than other kids.
The fact is, boys start puberty at different ages. There is no “normal” age for puberty to begin. Also, some boys may start puberty earlier than other boys but end puberty later. Knowing that, if you still feel worried about starting puberty, talk to your parents or your doctor. Ask your father when he started puberty. Chances are that you will go through puberty at a similar age as, and in a similar way to, your dad.

Why will my feelings change during puberty?

Puberty is a time when many boys become more self-conscious. You may find that you begin to worry more than before about how others see you. You may start to compare yourself to your friends, noticing that some of them look older than you and that some seem better at things you find important, like playing sports or getting attention from other people.
You may notice that you and your parents don’t always seem as close as you used to be. You may not want your parents to know as much about your life as you were willing to share when you were younger. Your parents might ask you if there is something wrong because you may be more quiet or keep to yourself more than usual.
Does this ever happen to you?
One minute you may feel like a kid who wants to play and the next minute you feel more grown-up, wanting more freedom and independence.
Puberty is also a time when you may begin to think about the world and your place in it. You might decide to pursue some special interests. You may start to read newspapers or watch the news and learn about some issues in the world that concern you. You may even notice something about your school or your neighborhood that troubles you. Can you make a difference, and, if so, how? These are all normal feelings and questions for teenagers.
The changes you are experiencing occur for many reasons. One reason is that your hormones are changing. Hormones are chemicals that are responsible for many processes in the body, including growth and development, and even mood. During puberty your way of thinking also changes as your brain further develops.
Another reason you may be feeling different is that your life is changing. You may have switched schools, starting middle school or junior high. You may feel more pressures and responsibilities as you get older. You may have made new friends, started thinking about dating, or gone through a family change like a divorce or moving to a new town. These are all big changes and they are likely to affect the way you feel.
If you have special needs or a long-term illness, whether or not others know about it, going through the many changes of puberty can sometimes be challenging. You’re certainly not alone. Whenever you find things especially difficult, you’ll feel better if you express your feelings to your parents, your doctor, the school nurse, a counselor, or another adult you trust. It can also be helpful to talk to other kids your age—you’ll quickly realize that you all have a lot in common.
Some Ways You Can Make a Difference
Help an elderly neighbor.
Read to a younger child.
Organize a fundraiser for a worthy cause.
Stop an act of bullying.