When Will My Voice Change? (for Kids)
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When Will My Voice Change?

You've probably listened to the deep voices of your dad or big brother and wondered why yours seems to be just a bit squeakier. If you're still wondering, it's because your higher pitched voice means you probably haven't gone through puberty yet.

Puberty (say: pyu-bert-ee) is a special time of growth, when your body begins to mature and becomes more like an adult's. As you go through puberty, your body changes a lot. It will grow bigger and taller - sometimes it seems like it changes almost overnight! As your body matures, at some point your voice will change, too.

Girls generally begin puberty between the ages of 8 and 13, and boys usually start a little later, between 10 and 15 years. Every kid has his own built-in timetable for puberty - some kids start puberty earlier, and some kids start later. No two kids will go through puberty in the exact same way, so don't worry if you're not yet seeing hair under your arms like some guys in your class.

The hypothalamus (say: hi-po-thal-eh-mes) and pituitary (say: pih-too-eh-ter-ee) glands, which are located inside your head, close to your brain, first release the hormones that will begin the process of puberty in boys and girls. Hormones are "signaling molecules" that act as chemical messengers because they tell different parts of your body how to act and what to do. During puberty, these special hormones - also called gonadotropins (say: go-nad-eh-tro-pens) - signal the body to start getting ready for puberty.

Gonadotropins cause growth of the gonads (testes in boys and ovaries in girls), which then release more hormones and directly cause the physical changes seen during puberty. Two of these hormones are testosterone (say: teh-stass-teh-rone), released by the testes, and estrogen (say: ess-treh-jen), released by the ovaries.

Testosterone and estrogen are part of a category of hormones called sex hormones. As sex hormones are released, they directly affect a boy's (or girl's) body. For boys, this includes growing taller and more muscular and developing hair under the arms and on the face and pubic area. During puberty, a boy's penis and testicles also mature. Sex hormones also affect when a boy's voice changes during puberty.

During puberty, the sex hormone testosterone tells the larynx (say: lar-inks) - or voice box - to get larger and the vocal cords to get longer. The larger the size of the larynx, the deeper the voice. As the larynx starts to grow in boys, it pushes the Adam's apple forward. That's why you can see the Adam's apple in most grown men but not in women or kids!

When your voice starts to change, you'll probably notice that it might go from really squeaky to really deep in one sentence. This happens to most guys during puberty! If your voice starts cracking like this, don't be embarrassed and don't worry, because soon enough, your voice will become deep and stay that way all the time.

Puberty doesn't last forever and everyone - even your parents or favorite stars - went through it some time in their lives. Remember that it's just your body adjusting to all the new changes taking place.

And who knows? Maybe one day your squeaky voice will turn into the voice of a famous rock star!

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