Honk! Squeak! What the heck is that? A goose playing the trumpet? If you're going
through puberty (say: PYOO-bur-tee), it could be your voice. Both
boys and girls experience voice changes as they grow older, but girls' voices get
only a little deeper. A boy's voice, on the other hand, may change quite a bit —
from sounding like a little kid to sounding like somebody's dad!
Your Leapin' Larynx
How does this happen? The larynx (say: LAIR-inks),
also known as your voice box, actually gets bigger during puberty. The larynx, located
in your throat, is a tube-shaped piece of cartilage — the same stuff your ears
and your nose are made from. One of its jobs is to let you talk, sing, hum, yell,
laugh, and make all sorts of noises.
When a boy reaches puberty, his body begins making lots of testosterone
(say: tes-TOSS-tuh-rone). The testosterone causes his larynx to grow and his vocal
cords to get longer and thicker. Vocal cords are thin muscles that stretch across
the larynx like rubber bands.
What Makes a Voice?
When you speak, air rushes from your lungs and makes your vocal cords vibrate,
producing the sound of your voice. If you've ever plucked a small, thin rubber band,
you've heard the high-pitched twang it makes when it's stretched. A thicker rubber
band makes a deeper, lower-pitched twang. It's the same sort of thing with vocal cords.
Before you reach puberty, your larynx is pretty small and your vocal cords are
kind of small and thin. That's why your voice is higher than an adult's. As you go
through puberty, the larynx gets bigger and the vocal cords lengthen and thicken,
so your voice gets deeper. As your body adjusts to this changing equipment, your voice
may "crack" or "break." But this process lasts only a few months. Once the larynx
is finished growing, your voice won't make those unpredictable, funny noises anymore.
What About Eve's Apple?
Not only do older guys and men sound different from boys, but you can also see
the difference in their necks. When the larynx grows bigger, it tilts to a different
angle and part of it sticks out inside the neck. You can see it at the front of the
throat. This is known as the Adam's apple.
For girls, the larynx also grows bigger but not as much as in boys, so you can't
see it through a girl's skin. There is no "Eve's apple" in a woman's neck.
Voice Your Changing Voice
Everyone's timetable is different, so some kids' voices might start to change earlier
and some might start a little later. Some voices might drop gradually, whereas others
might drop quickly.
If this hasn't happened to you yet, don't worry. And if you're going through this
now, try not to stress too much about the funny noises you make. It can help to talk
to a parent, an older sibling, or a friend who's already gone through the voice change.
Before you know it, your voice will sound clear, strong, and more grown-up!