Learn About Sexuality

At puberty boys develop a reliable arousal cycle

From a young age, most boys already demonstrate a more active and outgoing personality than most girls. This gender difference is apparent before the onset of adolescence and is not attributable solely to hormones. Once a boy becomes sexually responsive he also develops a degree of emotional insensitivity. Male ego (arrogance or assertiveness) is vital to men’s role in defence and in sex. Men are valued for their physical strength, their practical skills and their personal confidence (leadership).

Boys enjoy physical activities such as sport where conversation is minimal. Men focus on doing. Men compete over territory, status and power. Men tend to focus on their own pursuits rather than being motivated to care for others. This male territorial drive (to establish and defend territory or status) consumes even more of a man’s time than his sex drive ever does.

The changes at puberty are not limited to physical changes. There are emotional and social impacts. There is likely to be competition between boys for attention from girls, uncertainties about approaching the opposite sex and possible concerns about homosexual feelings. Both sexes have a desire to be accepted as part of the social group.

The male sex organ is easily identifiable because boys hold it when they pee. The proper name for a boy’s willy is ‘penis’. There are many slang words for the penis including cock, dick and prick. The penis and testicles increase in size at adolescence and boys become sexually active. During puberty, hormones cause boys to experience arousal. They feel excited when they think about someone they find attractive. Men have an arousal cycle that starts with erection and ends with ejaculation.

Boys can have erections as early as 8 or 9. Instead of being flaccid (or limp), the penis becomes very firm (stiff or hard) and juts out from the body at an angle. Slang words for an erection include a stiffy, hard-on or boner. The average position for men of all ages is just above the horizontal. 15-20% of men carry the penis at 45⁰ above the horizontal while 8-10% have an erection tight against the body. A young boy can hold an erection for longer and at an angle tighter to the body on average than an older man.

Ejaculation (of semen) and male orgasm are two separate phenomena. It is possible for a young boy to orgasm without ejaculating. But once a boy reaches adolescence (assumed to coincide with a boy’s first ejaculation) he most normally ejaculates every time he has an orgasm. Most boys (90%) ejaculate for the first time between the ages of 11 and 15. The start of male adolescence is defined by the age at which a boy first ejaculates.

Research indicates that half of all boys have had an orgasm by the age of 7 and two-thirds of them by 12. Until they start ejaculating, such orgasms are one-offs or sporadic. Gradually boys come to associate their arousal with psychological stimuli (erotic turn-ons) that are explicitly sexual. They also become increasingly reliant on specific penile stimulation for orgasm. The sources of first ejaculation are masturbation (two-thirds), nocturnal emissions (in an eight of the cases), intercourse (one boy in eight) and homosexual contacts (one boy in twenty).

Fear, apprehension, shock or surprise all give rise to nervous system responses that have characteristics in common with arousal. Some boys initially orgasm in response to such stimuli. Less than 1 per cent of boys (0.81%) experience spontaneous ejaculation as a one-off in pre-adolescence. These orgasms are not typically accompanied by ejaculation.

Both masturbation and sex dreams depend on a person’s use of creative imagination and are more common among the educated. Some boys ejaculate when they are asleep. ‘Wet dreams’ are most common (71% of men) between 21 and 25 when the highest average frequency is about once in three weeks (0.3 per week). By the age of 50 only a third of men have sex dreams, which do not average more than four or five a year.

Orgasm is possible without ejaculation. But ejaculation is always preceded by an orgasm. Ejaculation relies on a trigger. There is no physiological event other than orgasm that could trigger ejaculation. The sensations that accompany orgasm vary depending on the physical and psychological (erotic or emotional) circumstances that give rise to orgasm.

Erection … is practically a daily matter for all small boys, from earliest infancy … Slight physical stimulation of the genitalia, general body tensions and generalized emotional situations bring immediate erection, even when there is no specifically sexual situation involved. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)

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