Have you ever woken up in the morning, tried to muffle an audible “good morning” to your parents and found that you sounded like a rubber ducky? Well, it’s totally normal–you’re in puberty! And guess what, ladies—it’s not just guys who go through puberty. So, what’s behind these squeegee sounds?
Did you know? The main differences between puberty in girls and boys are the time when it begins and the hormones involved. Girls usually go through puberty from age 10 or 11 to around 16,while boys go through puberty from age 12 or 13 to around 17.
I’m sure you’ve heard about hormones and how they’re “raging” during the growth spurt known as puberty, when your childish features morph into something more adult-like. Hormones are little chemical messengers that deliver instructions to make sure your body is changing the way it’s supposed to.
So about that squeaky voice…
In your throat, there’s a tube that connects your mouth and nose to your lungs called the trachea–it’s essentially a tunnel for air. In your trachea you have two muscles, or vocal chords, that vibrate when air passes from your lungs to create sound. This is your larynx, or “voice box.” During puberty, guys will experience a spike in testosterone (a hormone) that tells the vocal chords to grow.
Did you know? Many things can affect the time when puberty begins, such as genetics, nutritional intake, weight, stress and social factors.
Imagine a guitar with five strings. Think about how the guitar sounds when you pluck the thinnest string. This is what your voice sounds like before puberty. Now think about how the guitar sounds when you pluck the thickest string – the sound is much deeper. Just like a guitar, you change from having a higher pitched voice to a lower one. Plus, your face (and body) is also growing,creating bigger sinuses (these are open spaces around your nose) that give your voice more room to echo. Have you ever had a conversation in an auditorium and found that everyone could hear you? That’s because of echoing, and the same thing is happening in your sinuses!
Girls also have spikes in their hormones during puberty and their vocal chords grow,too. So, why don’t girls sound squeaky? It’s because their voice box only grows about half as much as a guy’s does. But, don’t fret boys—the squeaking is only temporary. That’s what Justin Bieber’s career is depending on. And as your voice box grows, it drops and tilts to create a cool addition: your Adam’s apple. Welcome to adulthood!
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Harries MLL, Walker JM, Williams DM, Hawkins S & IA Hughes (1997). Changes in the male voice at puberty. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 77:445-447.
Article first published Sept. 7, 2011