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Can Steroids Make You Grow Taller? (From A Doctor)

Donald Christman
Published by Donald Christman
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

As a fitness coach, I see it all the time, guys want to be bigger and bulkier, and they want to know what they can do to move things along.

One of the “solutions” my clients often come to me with is anabolic steroids, and they sometimes expect these drugs will enable them to grow taller.

Even though this seems highly unlikely to me, I did extensive online research and talked with our medical staff, so I could form a complete picture of whether anabolic steroids can help you grow taller or not.

Quick Summary

  • Under the supervision of your primary care doctor, anabolic steroids are legitimate treatments for many health conditions, and they may affect children's growth.
  • After your growth plates fuse, there isn’t much you can do to grow taller.
  • Significant health risks come with the use of anabolic steroids.

What Are Anabolic Steroids?

Before and after taking steroids flex

Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the male sex hormone testosterone.

There are legitimate uses for steroids in medicine, especially in treating conditions like cancer and aids that ravage the muscular system and treating hormonal deficiency in adults and children.

There is widespread anabolic steroid use by athletes for the significant muscle gains and strength achieved quickly with the help of these drugs, but this is an off-label use and is considered steroid abuse.

Whether taken orally or by intramuscular injection, these drugs travel to the androgen receptors in the muscle and promote muscle protein synthesis, which results in enhanced muscle growth and repair [1].

When combined with resistance training, anabolic steroids are highly effective for muscle mass gains, hence appealing to many athletes and bodybuilders. Still, there is nothing that suggests these drugs make you grow taller.

That’s because muscles don’t make you taller; bones do.

Related: How to Keep Gains After Steroid Cycle?

How They Affect Development and Height

Checking his height with a measuring tape

Bone length increases because of growth plates in the bones.

These plates mature through puberty and fuse at the end of that development period, resulting in no more growth [2]. The most striking changes in growth occur during this time, and there is no set age when that process is complete.

What’s ultimately responsible for the control of growth are hormones like thyroid, growth hormone, testosterone, and estrogen.

Growth hormone (GH) is the most important factor in this equation, and since anabolic steroids mimic the second most important - testosterone in the body, let’s take a closer look at their respective effects.

Anabolic Steroids

Injecting a syringe inside the muscle

Testosterone also plays a role in growth, especially during the adolescent stage.

Let’s examine if there’s evidence to support the claim that synthetic versions of testosterone could potentially make you grow taller.

One study shows anabolic steroid treatment combined with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) did increase the height of two children entering adolescence with short stature, which seems promising for treating specific medical conditions [3].

Still, I question the validity of healthy adolescents just looking to grow taller.

Testosterone works hand in hand with GH and plays a role in a boy’s maturing to manhood, including increasing height, body hair growth, and enlargement of the penis, testes, and prostate gland [4]. Remember, this is just one factor in height and not a significant one to make you taller.

Besides environmental factors like nutrition and exercise, our genetic makeup is the primary factor determining our height [5].

Introducing steroids into your body creates a significant hormonal imbalance, which is true for adults and developing adolescents.

Anabolic steroids inhibit the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which are both involved in T-production, and this ultimately results in decreased testosterone [6].

It would seem that the use of anabolic steroids actually works against the body’s natural processes, especially in developing adolescents looking to grow taller.

Human Growth Hormone

Growth hormone, which is created in the pituitary gland, promotes childhood/adolescent growth and maintains tissues and organs throughout life.

Human growth hormone (HGH), as it is also called, can be synthetically made to treat GH deficiency in children and adults. HGH may increase lean muscle and decrease adipose tissue (fat) in healthy adults [7]

The use of HGH pills in healthy adults isn’t proven to stave off aging, make you grow taller, or provide any significant health benefits, and much like anabolic steroids, the risks far outweigh any potential benefit.

Health Issues

Doctor checking on patient blood pressure

The health problems associated with steroid abuse are well-documented and significant for all ages, male and female, and encompass multiple musculoskeletal, hormonal, cardiovascular, and mental health systems.

The risks involved with these drugs for adolescents include stunted growth and height, high blood pressure, enlarged heart, and infertility [8]. Steroids can also cause adolescent users to gain weight and have increased acne, compounding the body image issues associated with the desire to grow taller.

Many of these effects are present in adult anabolic steroid users, along with testicular shrinkage, heart disease, increased likelihood of prostate cancer, and an increased chance to develop acromegaly [9].

In women specifically, steroids can cause a deepening of the voice, decreased breast size, coarse skin, excessive body hair, and male-pattern baldness [10].

“The abuse of anabolic steroids can cause both temporary and permanent injury to anyone using them. Teenagers, whose bodies are still developing, are at heightened risk. An alarming number of them are trying steroids in hopes of improving their athletic prowess or their appearance.”

- Dr. Ali Mohamadi, M.D.

Alternatives

A syringe surrounding different pills

There are many effective and safe legal steroid options on the market designed to boost athletic performance, decrease fat, gain muscle, enhance immunity, and improve bone density in teens and adults.

Combined with healthy eating and a solid exercise routine, they can be very beneficial for overall health without the risks associated with steroids and other drugs like HGH.

Most importantly, even these illegal supplements will not make already healthy children and adults grow taller.

FAQs

Can My Height Increase After 17?

Your height can increase after age 17, depending on whether the growth plates in your bones have closed yet. At the end of puberty, those growth plates will fuse, and you will have reached your full adult height.

How Do You Trigger a Growth Spurt?

You can trigger a growth spurt as a developing teen by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet that includes protein and plenty of calcium and vitamin D, and being physically active.

Can Anabolic Steroids Make You Taller?

Simply put, once the skeleton stops growing, no drug will make you taller.

I encourage my clients to instead focus on what they can change and ultimately improve, like body composition, weight, inflammation, strength, and stamina.

To achieve those things, regular exercise and a healthy diet are mandatory, and if you still want an edge in terms of strength and muscle growth, I advise you to consider investing in some of the best natural and legal steroid alternatives on the market.

They aren’t magic pills, but they have proved quite effective for my clients in the past few years.


References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15248788/  
  2. https://www.yourhormones.info/topical-issues/growth-and-height/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17128560/
  4. https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/testosterone/
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/traits/height/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744441/
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/growth-hormone/art-20045735 
  8. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/steroids-anabolic#topic-2
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8346765/
  10. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/steroids-other-appearance-performance-enhancing-drugs-apeds/what-are-side-effects-anabolic-steroid-misuse
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