Last week Caroline Minju of The Birds and The Bees, a youth programme which empowers young people and parents on issues of spirituality and socially enlightened us on how to deal with the onset of puberty in girls.
She says. “When boys reach puberty, extra amounts of chemicals called hormones start to be produced in their bodies bringing about both physical changes that accompany puberty such as deep voice, muscle development, broader chest and growth of hair on face, legs, chest and underarms. This brings about difficult questions that parents find hard to answer.”
The first thing to do when your teenage boy starts to ask questions about sexuality is not to shut him out but to encourage him to speak out his mind. If you have no answers at the moment explain to him clearly that you need to get your facts right before you could answer. Also encourage him to search in the internet or local library on subject of boys and puberty.
You could also get in touch with organizations dealing with teens (like Birds and Bees Youth Programme) or refer him to his grandfather, uncle or older cousin whom he can be more comfortable with.
Once you have your facts right sit down with him in a relaxed atmosphere, maybe go for a drive, fishing, golf or just a walk and explain to him as plain and honestly as possible what he wants to know.
Below are some of the sensitive questions that boys ask and the answers to the questions.
Q My penis cannot go down what could be the problem?
A An erection is when a boy’s penis hardens and lengthens, this usually happens when a boy has a romantic or sexual thoughts, or as a result of physical stimulation. However during puberty a boy will start to get erections more often, sometimes without any stimulation at all. Most erections are not straight, and tend to either curve upwards or to either side. Many boys worry that their penis is smaller than other boys’, but most penises are around the same size when erect.
Q. I wake up with my pajamas wet am I bed wetting?
A “Wet dreams” are not something to be embarrassed about; they are natural and happen to lots of people but not all.
A wet dream happens when a boy becomes sexually aroused while he is asleep and ejaculates (semen – the sticky liquid that sperm is part of – is released from his body through his penis). Sometimes boys can remember having had a sexual dream. But often they notice a wet patch on their nightclothes or on the sheets when they wake up.
Parents should advice their boy to wash up when he wakes up especially if he had a wet dream because he may develop an infection around his penis and testicles if the area is not kept clean. It is a good idea to thoroughly clean behind his foreskin (if he has one) every day.
Circumcision is also encouraged to keep the area dry and avoid many infections.
If wet dreams happen quite often and become a source of concern to you, you can contact the youth friendly services offered at your local clinic or talk to your pastor or spiritual father for guidance.
Q I get an erection when I do not want to have one, am I sick?
A. Spontaneous erection is very common during puberty, and there is not much a boy can do to stop it from happening. However, a few tips of making them less noticeable are: sit down or cover it with something (for example a folder, bag or tying a sweatshirt round your waist). You can also choose to wear sagging jeans and tighter styles of underwear. Also try to concentrate on something else until it goes away. You may be embarrassed, but remember it happens to all boys of that age.
Q Why is one of my testicles hanging lower than the other?
A. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Either side may be slightly larger, or hang lower. Sometimes one testicle grows faster than the other. But be sure to let your doctor know if you have any pain, swelling, or lumps in your testicles.
Q I have a lump on one of my testicles. What should I do?
A Lumps in the testicles could be many things. Some are perfectly normal. For example, you may be feeling the epididymis, the tightly coiled tube where sperms are stored. Other lumps however may be signs of a problem that won’t go away on its own. A visit to a doctor should put that to rest.