Problems tackled: 43,481

DocSpot: Breaking voice

Dear Dr Margaret
At what age does a boy’s voice change? What actually happens?

It is difficult to answer this question, because the age at which a boy’s voice changes varies a lot. The change commonly occurs between age 13 and age 15, but in some boys it is earlier or later than this. The earliest change in puberty is an in crease in the size of the testicles (balls), followed by growth of the penis. Hair starts to grow at the base of the penis, and the skin of the scrotum becomes more wrinkly and darker in colour. Soon you start to grow rapidly, and it is during or after this stage that the voice tends to change.

Your voice box

At the front of your neck you have a ‘voice box’ (also known as larynx or Adam’s apple). The voice box acts like a musical instrument. It has two cords stretched across it, the vocal cords. These are like elastic bands. When air from your lungs passes through the voice box, the cords vibrate producing the sound of your voice.
During puberty (the years when you change from being a child to a man), your testicles produce increasing amounts of testosterone hormone. This testosterone makes the voice box grow and change shape. The vocal cords become larger and thicker, and therefore vibrate at a lower frequency when air passes over them. The lower frequency gives you a deeper voice.
In some boys the change seems to occur slowly, and the voice gradually becomes deeper. However, many boys experience a sudden change over just a few weeks or months. If this happens to you, your voice may be high (warbling) one minute and low (croaky) the next minute. Controlling the pitch of your voice can be a struggle, and you may feel embarrassed. But before long, your voice will even out. By age 20, you will almost certainly have acquired your adult voice.

Girls too

Girls’ voices also change during puberty. Their voice becomes more breathy or husky, and may deepen by a couple of tones (whereas a boy’s voice can fall by an octave). At this time, girls often have difficulty singing at an accurate pitch.

Last updated; Sunday, August 30th 2020

Tell us your thoughts

Did you find what you were looking for?

Add a comment

Please note we cannot answer your questions directly. If you are concerned, please talk to your doctor.

Share your stories, tips and solutions here to help others tackle it, move on. As all comments are moderated, there will be a delay before your comment appears.

Discussion content reflects the view of individual participants only. Health Press Limited bear no responsibility for accuracy of participant comments and will bear no legal liability for discussion results. Comments will be moderated before posting and Health Press Limited reserves the right to delete any material. See About our site for our moderation policy


View what people have said about DocSpot: Breaking voice

Latest updates

Dr Phil's latest video
20th September

Anal itching (itchy bottom);
1st August

Nail biting;
23rd April

Nail problems;
23rd April

Varicose veins;
19th April

29th January

embarrassing problems