Will I grow taller on testosterone?

WHEN you finished puberty, the growth plates (Epiphyseal plates) at the ends of your leg bones closed off. It is these growth plates that give you height. They will not magically ‘re-open’ just because you start testosterone treatment. If you are on the shorter side before testosterone treatment, you’ll still be in the short range once you’ve been through transition.

  • Your bones will not be altered by testosterone treatment.
  • Your long bones (in your arms and legs) won’t grow on testosterone.
  • Your feet, hands and skull are not going to grow bigger.
  • If you have a wide pelvis, it isn’t going to become small and slender.(1)
  • Your height will remain pretty much the same according to your genetic heritage. (Males who start treatment around 12 years old or have been treated with puberty-delaying treatment will go through a more natural phase of growth.)

The good news is, some men report going up a shoe size or a hat size or their hands grew bigger. Others say they have put on a few centimetres in height with testosterone treatment. This is not due to bone actually growing. It is more likely due to a number of factors which come together and give the sensation of being slightly taller, larger or needing to wear a larger hat/shoe size for some people.

One factor is the increased sense of well-being. Many men, especially after chest surgery, stand straighter rather than being ‘hunched over’ to hide their breasts. Testosterone treatment improves most men’s self-esteem for the first time. So, it is little wonder some people feel they are taller or they carry themselves straighter (and taller) after starting testosterone therapy.

Another factor is the growth of your muscles and ligaments. This growth can contribute to the illusion of height and size. Testosterone increases the density of your bones, which makes them heavier.(2) Heavier bones need stronger muscles for movement and activity. The ligaments and tendons which connect your muscles to bone need to be thicker and stronger to cope with the increase of muscle. Ligaments and tendons are wrapped around bones and joints and as they become thicker and stronger, there can be an overall impression of growth.

Feet and hands, which are made up of many small joints and bones, are wrapped in many ligaments. The growth of tendons and muscles can cause bones to sit slightly differently alongside each other and perhaps a larger shoe size is more comfortable given the changes to ligaments and tendons in the foot.

Likewise, there can be a slightly thickening of ligaments along the spine – overall that can sometimes add up to a few millimetres or half a centimetre of perceived “growth”.

References
  1. Kirk, 1994.
  2.  Lips, et al., 1996.

 

page updated 2 June 2011
 

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