Does Testosterone Stunt Growth?

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The anabolic steroid testosterone is present in the body of teenage males to a great extent. Despite this abundance of the sex hormone, some teenagers decide to take synthetic testosterone in an effort to increase muscle mass to a greater degree. While testosterone therapy is sometimes recommended by physicians for teens who naturally produce a low amount of the steroid, its use among most teenagers is discouraged. One question regarding steroid use is whether it stunts growth in adolescents.


Testosterone is a sex hormone produced naturally in the body. It is produced primarily in both the testes of the male and the ovaries of the female, but in different amounts. Testosterone is often called the male hormone as it is essential in the development of the testes and prostrate. At puberty, the hormone is key in producing secondary sexual attributes in males including hair growth, bone lengthening and additional muscle mass.


Testosterone has anabolic effects in the body. It helps in the development of muscle mass, which provides males with a significant amount of strength. Testosterone is also important in increasing and strengthening the bones. The most noticeable anabolic effect the steroid produces is linear growth, which is why many teen males seem to get taller overnight. Natural testosterone, therefore, does not stunt growth but increases it.


Males grow and sexually mature during adolescence when a normal amount of testosterone is present. This is, however, not true with those individuals in whom there is a low production of the hormone. This lack of the sex hormone can cause delayed puberty in which the body does not grow and mature at the rate of a normal teen. Synthetic testosterone was developed in the 1930s in order to increase the testosterone in deficient individuals and thereby treat the problems associated with the lack of the hormone.

Anabolic Steroid Use

Many bodybuilders have discovered that the use of synthetic testosterone helps increase their muscle mass. Unfortunately, for young males the use of these steroids can stunt their natural growth. This seems surprising, since natural testosterone is known to increase growth. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the problem with this additional amount of hormone in normal males is that it accelerates puberty and speeds the maturity of the skeleton.


Teens tempted to take steroids should know that their use is illegal for those who do not have a prescription. Aside from the risk of stunting your growth, synthetic testosterone also produces a wide array of other side effects. Among these are the possibly of increased aggression, irritability, headaches, skin problems and shrinkage of the testicles.