Optimized testosterone has been linked to a great many health benefits, especially in men (though not at all exclusively so). It brings a great many benefits, both physical and mental, making you stronger, sharper, more energetic, better protected against illness and stress, and simply healthier in general.
But does testosterone make you taller?
It’s a question plenty of people wonder at. There are fair reasons for thinking it might be the case, as we’ll get into below. In addition, there is a popular assumption lying beneath it: we all associate masculinity with height, we all think taller men are more masculine, so it makes sense that people’s imaginations may inspire the link between testosterone and height. However, the short, over-simplified answer is no, of course it doesn’t.
This belies the question’s complexity, however. To truly answer the question, with nuance and precision, we need to know exactly what testosterone does.
We all need testosterone. It is crucial to healthy functioning. Everybody produces it to a greater or lesser degree, though men will typically have much higher levels than women. In men, the testes primarily produce it; in women, it is made primarily in the ovaries.
High testosterone levels can improve your muscular strength and bone health, help you to build lean muscle mass, lose body fat, and boost your overall athletic ability. It plays a key role in mental wellbeing, giving you more energy, a more positive outlook, diminishing the effects of stress, and allowing for better sleep and recovery. It will also boost your sex drive and sexual function, your sperm production, and your immune health.
A lack of testosterone will diminish all of these aspects, especially in men. It will make it hard for you to keep body fat levels low and muscle mass high, no matter how much you train or how cleanly you eat. It will leave you weaker, with less energy, more open to illness and infection, with diminished libido and sexual function.
Many people invest in natural testosterone boosting supplements as a precaution against this.
In addition to the above, testosterone is also crucial during puberty. This is where our question of the day gets a little murkier: high testosterone levels during puberty have been linked, if weakly, to increased height.
It is also responsible for muscular and bone health, facial and body hair development, and deepening of the voice.
Because of all of this, it is important to keep testosterone levels optimized during puberty when the body is developing.
It is also important to keep testosterone levels high thereafter, especially after the age of around thirty. At this point, we begin to lose testosterone. Men will typically lose about 1% of their total testosterone output per year as they age after thirty.
However, it is highly unlikely, to say the least, that testosterone levels after puberty will affect your height. You are not going to grow an extra couple of inches in your thirties by optimizing output or taking exogenous testosterone.
Will testosterone make you taller?
As we have seen, testosterone can contribute to you growing taller during puberty. High levels can lead to increased height. Low levels can lead to impaired height.
However, the evidence is a little sketchy, here. There is a very limited amount of evidence firmly linking testosterone levels to height at any stage.
This being said, high testosterone levels are associated with high human growth hormone (HGH) output. As you might have guessed from its name, HGH is involved with growth. Therefore, there is a logical inference – high testosterone levels mean high HGH levels, and high HGH levels mean more growth.
This is the basis of most people’s claims that testosterone can make you taller.
However, this kind of intuition often leads us to bark up the wrong tree, as becomes apparent when we look at the actual scientific data. The link between testosterone and height is a case in point. Most medical studies have found an inverse link between them: that is, higher testosterone output has been linked with decreased height.
High testosterone levels have been found to inhibit height development, whilst low levels have a growth-prompting effect.
In fact, supplemental testosterone therapy has been used as a treatment for excessive height in pubescent boys in medical research. It was found to be a very effective measure at limiting final height.
This suggests that both naturally produced testosterone and exogenous testosterone can inhibit height.
But HGH still increases height…
The mechanism underlying the assumption that high testosterone levels lead to increased height still stands. Human growth hormone does indeed lead to increased height.
Many people mix HGH and testosterone up with one another. Those in the know all too often see the correlation between the two and make assumptions – as above, high testosterone levels mean high HGH levels, and high HGH levels mean more growth.
However, they both play incredibly different roles, only overlapping slightly. They serve similar roles in muscle growth, but completely different roles with regards vertical growth. In addition, men and women both produce plenty of HGH, whilst only men produce high amounts of testosterone – in both, HGH leads to vertical growth, with testosterone not aiding (and, as above, even inhibiting) height at all.
So, what does affect your height?
I want to be clear about one thing: you cannot grow taller, not in any real sense. Outside of a good pair of lifters, insoles, or heels, you are the height you are, with only a tiny amount of wriggle room (which I’ll go into below). Your bones are the length they are, and nothing can change them.
There are a few things that affect your height, none of which are within your control.
Firstly, hormones will play a role in determining how tall you grow. They affect the bone formation by the growth plates. Testosterone will play a role here, as we have seen, as will estrogen. HGH comes into play in a very major way, too.
Growth hormones are produced in the pituitary glands. Certain medical conditions can impair their production, which will affect a person’s height. Congenital deficiencies can lead to slower growth rate in children and adolescents, as well as overall height achieved.
Sex is also a major factor in determining height, as you are no doubt aware. Men will generally grow taller in the end, though it will take a little longer. In fact, the average man will grow to around 5-6 inches taller than the average woman.
Then there is DNA, by far the most important factor in determining height. You have no control over this.
There are thought to be around 700 separate genes that play a role in height determination. Some will affect growth hormone output. Others will affect the growth plates. Certain genetic disorders, such as Down Syndrome, can affect overall height, too.
How do you get taller?
You cannot really control your height. As above, if you’re worried about your height, a good set of footwear is your best bet. Your DNA is immutable. It is set, and in turn it dictates your height.
However, I mentioned above that there was a little bit of wriggle room. It really is a small thing, but you can do a few things to make yourself slightly taller.
I’m on the short side – I’m only five foot eight inches, or 172 cm. My brother is slightly naturally taller than me, at more like 173 cm (trust me, at our height, every cm counts!) However, people generally think I’m the taller one (very relatively speaking!)
Why is this?
I stand up straight and my brother doesn’t. I lift weights, hold multiple black belts, and practice yoga. My brother does very little exercise. Therefore, I have better posture. My core and lower back strength, my physical mindfulness, my improved joint mobility all give me an advantage. The inverse is true for my brother – he stoops, losing precious centimeters.
So, if you want to improve your height, work on your posture. Train regularly and stay mindful of how you hold yourself.
Physical presence can also give the illusion of height. I am physically confident and relatively well built, so people assume I am taller than I actually am.
This takes good training. It also takes adequate sleep and nutrition. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, as this is where growth happens. You will also need plenty of healthy fat and protein, as well as lots of fruit and veg, to build the muscle mass and connective tissue needed to increase your height.
An active, healthy lifestyle, therefore, is your best bet for improving your height, albeit very marginally.
Unfortunately, there is little you can do to influence your height. If there was, we would all be six foot two paragons of masculinity. The fact that we aren’t isn’t due to height factors being some kind of well-kept secret. It is because the kinds of natural variations that actually affect our height are out of our control.
Testosterone will not make you taller. In fact, as we have seen, high testosterone and height may share an inverse correlation. Growth hormone, sex, and DNA are all that count in growing your bones. Their length will determine your height.
You can maximize your height. Not stooping, keeping your chin up, shoulders back, and lower back and core tight and strong will make every inch you’ve got count. You can’t increase your maximum height, but you can achieve it.
So, if you want to get taller, limit your expectations, sort your diet out, hit the gym, practice yoga, and get plenty of sleep.
Written by John Dixon
John is a personal trainer and part time (although he might say full time) writer here at PathMed. He uses his knowledge of fitness and physiotherapy to deliver real insight in to our reviews and health guides.
John’s military background also brings a real-life perspective to his work.