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Boys hitting puberty a year earlier

Boys are hitting puberty an average year earlier than their fathers' generation, according to a new study.

Boys hitting puberty a year earlier

Boys are hitting puberty an average year earlier than their fathers' generation, according to a new study.

To provide estimates of normal variations in penile measurements and testicular volumes, researchers from the US compared 6,200 Bulgarian healthy boys with a similar 1970s study. They measured height, weight, testicular volume, penis length and circumference of the participants.

Studies done several decades ago in the same population reported that a leap forward in sexual development occurs at ages 13 through 16 years. However, the current study indicated that this spurt takes place between 12 and 15 years. Researchers found that boys today start to develop at 12 years old, while those in the 1970s began changing when they were aged 13.

It was found that boys' testicles did not grow substantially until the beginning of puberty, around 11 years. However, penises appeared to grow gradually from birth to sexual maturity, starting at around two inches and reaching an average length of nearly four inches by 19 years. However, both penises and testicles grew most rapidly between ages 12 to 16 years, while boys added the most inches in height and gained the most weight between 12 and 14 years of age. 

The study found that boys of the same age in the 1970s study had relatively smaller genitalia. However, these size differences disappeared between the two generations by the age of 17 years. It is thought that genetic, environmental, nutritional and educational factors could all be behind the faster development today, but it remains unclear what impact earlier puberty might have on men's health. It also remains unclear whether specific differences exist between populations from different parts of the world.

The findings suggest that trend towards earlier puberty isn't limited to girls, who are developing sexually at increasingly younger ages.
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