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Do women’s voice break?

Both men and women experience voice changes as they go through puberty. For boys, the most noticeable change is that their voices “break” and become deeper. This is caused by the larynx (voice box) growing and the vocal cords becoming thicker and longer. But what about girls – do their voices break too?

What Causes Voices to Break During Puberty?

During puberty, rising levels of testosterone cause the larynx to grow and vocal cords to lengthen in boys. This causes their voices to “break” and become deeper.

In girls, puberty doesn’t cause the same degree of change. Estrogen causes some growth of the larynx and vocal cords, but not nearly as much as testosterone does in boys. So while girls’ voices do get slightly deeper, the change is much more gradual and subtle.

Key Differences in Voice Changes for Boys and Girls

Here are some of the key differences between voice changes in males and females during puberty:

Speed of Changes

For boys, the voice breaking process occurs very rapidly, usually over a few months. The voice pitch can drop by an octave or more. For girls, vocal changes occur much more gradually over a period of several years.

Degree of Change

Males experience a dramatic drop in pitch as their voices break. This is typically a drop of around an octave. For females, the change is more subtle, with pitch dropping by just a few notes.

Age of Onset

Boys’ voices usually start breaking around ages 12-15. Girls’ voices don’t start changing until slightly later, around ages 13-16.

Larynx Growth

The male larynx grows significantly faster and larger than the female larynx. The size difference is very noticeable after puberty.

Hormones Involved

Testosterone drives vocal changes in males. Estrogen causes more subtle changes in females. Testosterone causes much more larynx growth.

Vocal Instability

When the voice is in the process of breaking, boys often have very little control and the voice will “crack” unpredictably. Girls do not experience the same rapid fluctuations.

Signs of Voice Breaking in Males

Here are some of the common signs that a boy’s voice is breaking:

– Pitch of voice becomes unpredictable and hard to control
– Voice “cracks” or “squeaks” frequently
– Speaking pitch sounds uneven and resonates in different areas
– Reduced vocal range making high and low notes harder to reach
– Tiring or straining more easily when speaking
– Adam’s apple becoming more prominent as larynx grows

Do Girls Experience Voice Cracking?

Because the changes are more gradual, girls do not tend to experience much voice “cracking” or instability the way boys do. However, some mild vocal instability can occur:

– Temporary raspy or hoarse voice
– Occasional minor voice cracks
– Speaking pitch varying slightly
– Some difficulty singing high notes that were easy before

So while girls don’t have the same dramatic “voice breaking” process as boys, they can experience temporary vocal quirks as the muscles adjust.

What Causes Voice Cracking and Instability?

In both genders, voice cracking occurs when the laryngeal muscles have difficulty adapting to the changing size and length of the vocal cords and larynx. The sudden unpredictable changes in pitch happen when the vocal cords don’t vibrate properly and “crack” mid-speech.

As the larynx adjusts to its new size and shape during puberty, the voice stabilizes. But this happens much faster in males due to the effects of testosterone.

Does Hormone Therapy Affect Transgender Voices?

For transgender individuals undergoing hormone therapy, the effects on their voices are similar to those experienced during typical male and female puberty.

Transgender Women (Male to Female)

Transgender women taking estrogen do not experience significant vocal changes. There may be a slight increase in pitch and smoothness.

Transgender Men (Female to Male)

Trans men taking testosterone will experience voice deepening and possibly vocal instability like biological males during puberty. The degree depends on age at the start of treatment.


While girls’ voices do get slightly lower during puberty, they do not “break” in the dramatic way boys’ voices do. The key reasons are that girls have much less testosterone and smaller growth of the larynx. Female voices change gradually in pitch over several years without the cracking and instability boys commonly experience as their voices rapidly drop in pitch.

Key Takeaways

– Boys’ voices “break” during puberty when testosterone causes rapid larynx growth and vocal cord lengthening, dropping pitch dramatically.

– Girls’ voices lower only slightly during puberty due to lower testosterone levels and smaller larynx growth. The changes occur gradually over years.

– Voice “cracking” happens when the laryngeal muscles struggle to adapt to the changing size and shape of the larynx and vocal cords.

– Girls can experience some temporary vocal instability but not to the extent boys do when their voices are breaking.

– Transgender women taking estrogen do not experience major voice changes. Transgender men taking testosterone will experience voice deepening like biological males.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age do girls’ voices change?

Girls’ voices typically start to change around ages 13-16, slightly later than the age range for boys at 12-15 years. However, some girls may not notice significant changes until their late teens.

Why don’t girls’ voices break like boys?

The main reasons are that girls have much lower levels of testosterone compared to boys, so the larynx doesn’t grow nearly as rapidly or dramatically. The vocal cord changes are also more modest in girls.

Do girls’ voices crack during puberty?

Girls typically do not experience much voice cracking or instability during puberty because the changes occur so gradually. Some temporary vocal quirks can happen but not to the extent seen in boys.

Does a girl’s voice get deeper during puberty?

Yes, girls’ voices do get slightly deeper during puberty, but only by a few notes. This is unlike boys whose voices can drop a full octave or more as they transition from child to adult pitch ranges.

Can a girl’s voice get as deep as a boy’s after puberty?

It is very rare for a girl’s voice to get as low as a typical male adult voice range after puberty. This is because the degree of larynx growth is much smaller in females due to lower testosterone exposure.

Data Tables Comparing Male and Female Vocal Changes

Characteristic Males Females
Speed of Changes Rapid – over a few months Gradual – over several years
Degree of Change Dramatic – approximately one octave drop Subtle – a few notes lower
Age of Onset 12-15 years old 13-16 years old
Voice Cracking Frequent Rare
Hormone Effect in Males Effect in Females
Testosterone Significant larynx growth, vocal cord lengthening Minimal effects
Estrogen Minimal effects Causes modest larynx growth


In summary, while both boys and girls undergo vocal changes during adolescence, they differ significantly in degree and pace due to hormone exposure. Boys experience rapid voice “breaking” as testosterone enlarges their larynxes and lengthens their vocal cords. Girls’ voices change far more gradually and subtly due to lower testosterone levels, and they do not usually experience voice “cracking”. However, some temporary vocal instability can occur in girls as the laryngeal muscles adjust.