A minute ago your voice sounded normal. You could talk and laugh with
no worries. But now when you open your mouth, it's a completely different
story. The noise coming from your throat kind of sounds like you,
but it's croaking, squeaking, honking, and peeping. You can barely
get through a sentence without your voice sounding like it's out of
control: high one minute, low the next, then high again. You don't
have a cold or a sore throat. In fact, everything feels normal - but
nothing sounds right.
Your voice is changing! It's one of the many developments that
happen to both girls and guys when they reach puberty. A guy's voice
gets way deeper than a girl's, though.
What Causes My Voice to Change?
At puberty, guys' bodies begin producing a lot of the hormone testosterone
(pronounced: teh-stass-tuh-rone), which causes changes in several
parts of the body, including the voice. For starters, a guy's larynx
(pronounced: lar-inks), also known as the voice box, grows bigger.
The larynx, which is located in the throat at the top of the trachea
(pronounced: tray-kee-ah) or windpipe, is like a hollow tube about
2 inches (5 centimeters) high. The larynx is responsible for creating
the sound of your voice.
Stretched across your larynx are two muscles, your vocal cords,
which are kind of like rubber bands. When you breathe, your vocal
cords relax against the walls of the larynx and completely open
to allow air to get in and out of your lungs. When you speak, though,
your vocal cords close together by stretching across the larynx.
Air from your lungs is then forced out between your vocal cords,
causing them to vibrate and produce the tone of your voice. When
you lower your voice, your vocal cords are lengthened and relaxed.
When you make your voice higher, your vocal cords become shortened
and tightened. (You can notice this difference in how they feel
as you adjust your speech.)
As your larynx grows, your vocal cords grow longer and thicker.
Also, your facial bones begin to grow. Cavities in the sinuses,
the nose, and the back of the throat grow bigger, creating more
space in the face that gives your voice more room to echo. All of
these factors cause your voice to get deeper.
Think of a guitar. When a thin string is plucked, it vibrates and
produces a high-sounding tone. When a thicker string is plucked,
it sounds much deeper when it vibrates. That's kind of what happens
to your voice. Before your growth spurt, your larynx is relatively
small and your vocal cords are relatively thin. So your voice is
high and kid-like. But, as bones, cartilage, and vocal cords grow,
your voice starts to sound like an adult's.
Along with all the other changes in your body, you might notice
that your throat area looks a little different. For guys, when the
larynx grows bigger, it tilts to a different angle inside the neck.
Part of it sticks out in the part of the neck at the front of the
throat and forms the Adam's apple. For girls, the larynx also grows
bigger but not as much as a guy's. That's why girls don't have Adam's
Why Is My Voice So Hard to Control?
While your body is getting used to these changes, your voice can
be difficult to control. A guy's voice "cracks" or "breaks"
because his body is getting used to the changing size of his larynx.
Fortunately, the cracking and breaking is only temporary. It usually
lasts no longer than a few months. And even during that time, your
voice won't crack every time you speak.
Some guy's voices might drop gradually, whereas others' might drop
quickly. You may feel concerned, stressed, or embarrassed about
the sound of your voice, but people usually understand - especially
friends or brothers who've gone through it, too. Everyone goes through
it, and once it happens, it takes a while to adjust to your larger
larynx and the new sound of your voice.
When Will My Voice Change?
You may have noticed that some of your friends have cracking and
breaking voices, some might already have deep voices, and some still
have the same voice they've always had. Everyone's timetable is
different, so some voices might start to change earlier and some
might start a little later. Generally, a guy's voice will start
to change somewhere between the ages of 11 and 15 - although it
can be earlier or later for some people. It all depends on when
a guy goes through puberty, and some normal guys enter puberty earlier
or later than others.
How Deep Will My Voice Get?
How deep a guy's voice gets depends on his genes: The larger a guy's
larynx, the thicker the vocal cords, and the bigger the resonating
area, the deeper his voice will be.
Once your larynx has grown, your voice will be more stable and
easier to control. But even then your voice hasn't finished developing!
Even after the quick change that happens in your teens, your voice
continues to develop. Although the squeaking and cracking stage
doesn't last long, most guys' voices don't fully mature until they're
in their twenties.