Does testosterone make you taller?

testosterone

Testosterone does not make you taller, and in puberty, increases in testosterone and estrogen together start the closure of the epiphyseal plates, also known as the growth plates. [1] So, if increased too early in puberty and development, testosterone can hurt a child’s height. Now that we know that testosterone can negatively impact height let us dive into the studies and research to find out how testosterone affects height and growth.

Testosterone structure
Testosterone structure

How does height growth work?

Before we can dive into the science of testosterone and its impacts on growth and growth plates, we need first to have a quick overview of the basics of how bone growth affects height.

The growth in height takes place in the long bones of the body. Long bones are classified as bones that are longer than they are wide, and they include the following bones:

  • Humerus
  • Radius
  • Ulna
  • Metacarpals
  • Phalanges
  • Femur
  • Tibia
  • Fibula
  • Metatarsals
Long bone anatomy
Long bone anatomy

What are epiphyseal plates?

A growth plate is at the end of each long bone; this growth plate is called the epiphyseal plate. The location of the epiphyseal plate is between the epiphysis (the head) and the diaphysis (the shaft).[2] Within the epiphyseal plate is where new bone growth occurs and lengthens the bone, increasing height. Growth within the epiphyseal plate results from the expansion of cartilage towards the epiphysis or head of the long bone. At the same time that new cartilage is expanding towards the epiphysis, old cartilage is replaced by bone near the diaphysis end of the growth plate.[3] The expansion process of the long bones is stimulated primarily by growth hormone. Later on, in puberty, sex hormones testosterone and estrogen reach sufficiently high that epiphyseal plate growth starts to slow and ultimately leads to the ossification or closure of the growth plate. The closure of the epiphyseal growth plate is the end of height growth in puberty as the long bones can no longer grow in length. 

Does testosterone close growth plates?

Now that we have the basic anatomy of height and bone growth out of the way, we can talk about testosterone’s role in height and bone growth. The scientific data is clear that testosterone does stimulate the closure of the growth plates in the body’s long bones. [4] This data means that when testosterone levels reach a high enough level during puberty, it starts the closure or fusing process of the growth plates. Once the growth plates are ossified, they cannot grow any further, and the growth in height is complete.

Does testosterone affect height?

Testosterone often gets correlated with increasing height because height is a masculine trait in our society, and tall males are often perceived as more masculine. Because testosterone increases masculine characteristics such as deep voice, body hair, muscular appearance, etc., it often gets assumed that it also increases height. This assumption is incorrect, and as mentioned above, studies show that testosterone and estrogen do the opposite and are responsible for limiting or stopping growth.[5] 

After reading how testosterone is responsible for closing the growth plates, one might think that it would be beneficial to inhibit or limit testosterone in puberty to gain optimal height. The truth is that it is not that simple, and the long bone growth is more complicated and intricate than that. One study done in hypopituitary boys found that some testosterone was required early on in the height growth spurt in puberty to achieve optimal growth and height.[6]

Other factors that affect height

Since we know that testosterone negatively affects height in puberty, let us look at other factors that impact height and how tall you will be.

Genetics and height growth

The most significant influence on how tall you will be is your genetics. Your genetics will determine how much growth hormone you will release in puberty and how early the growth hormone will be released. Your genetics will also influence when your testosterone and estrogen levels rise during puberty. Scientists estimate that a person’s height growth is approximately 60 to 80 percent based on genetics.[7]

Nutrition and height growth

another significant factor in height and how tall you can grow is nutrition. You can have all the growth hormone in the world, but if you do not have the nutrients required to build the new bone, you will not grow taller. During puberty and a growth spurt, the body needs a large number of calories to fuel the biological processes involved in growth. For bone formation and development, the body needs large amounts of calories for fuel and large amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals, especially calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Scientists estimate that nutrition is responsible for somewhere between 20 to 40 percent of a person’s height growth.[8]

Does testosterone make you taller?

The data is clear that testosterone does not make you taller, and in fact, elevated levels can stunt or hinder growth, especially during the later stages of puberty. This fact does not mean we should look negatively at testosterone, especially in the context of puberty. Testosterone is a crucial hormone and plays many beneficial roles during puberty and development. As seen in the scientific data, genetics predetermines 60 to 80 percent of a person’s height and thus cannot be altered by nutrition or other environmental factors. So let’s stop worrying about how tall we might be and how we can change it or influence it. We should simply focus on being healthy and let the genetic chips fall where they may.


Do not take any of the information within this article as medical or health advice. The information contained within this article is intended as information and not medical advice. You should always consult your doctor before embarking on any health or nutrition related changes.