The Journal of Laryngology & Otology

Main Articles

Changes in the male voice at puberty: vocal fold length and its relationship to the fundamental frequency of the voice

Meredydd Harriesa1 c1, Sarah Hawkinsa2, Jeremy Hackinga3 and Ieuan Hughesa4

a1 Department of Otolaryngology, The Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton

a2 Department of Linguistics, Cambridge University, Cambridge

a3 Department of Radiology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge

a4 Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge


Ultrasound measurements of the vocal folds were taken for a number of boys passing through puberty. The boys were grouped according to their pubertal stage as defined by Tanner and there was a gradual increase in the length of the vocal folds as puberty progressed. The fundamental frequency of the boys' speaking voice was recorded via laryngography and a good correlation between the length of the vocal folds and the frequency of the voice was seen. The sudden drop in frequency seen between Tanner stages 3 and 4 did not correlate with similar changes in the length of the vocal folds at this time but stroboscopic findings suggest a change in the structure and mass of the vocal folds at this time of maximum frequency change.

(Accepted March 26 1998)


c1 Address for correspondence: Meredydd Lloyd Harries, The Voice Clinic, The Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton BN2 5BE