Should Teens Take Testosterone Boosters? (4 Side Effects)

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: December 26, 2023
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As a medical doctor, I've personally witnessed a rising trend: teens turning to testosterone supplements.

Drawn by the allure of effortless muscle gain and enhanced athletic prowess, many are unaware of the potential pitfalls.

While it's undeniable that boosters can sculpt the physique by reducing body fat and amplifying muscle growth, my medical experience has shown that they come with a slew of detrimental effects, especially for teenagers.

Here are the most important side effects of using testosterone supplements during puberty.

Quick Summary

  • Teenagers should avoid taking testosterone boosters due to the potential health risks and side effects and instead focus on natural growth and development methods.
  • Teens using testosterone boosters may face side effects like stunted growth, acne outbreaks, increased sexual desire, and enlarged male breast tissue.
  • Research reveals that many supplement stores are willing to sell testosterone boosters to teenagers, with about 41.4% of sales representatives stating that 15-year-olds could purchase them.
  • Considering the significant health risks and side effects I stumbled upon in my clinical practice, I believe teenagers must focus on natural methods like proper nutrition and exercise for muscle development rather than resorting to potentially harmful testosterone boosters.
shirtless man holding up a supplement

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) doesn’t recommend T boosters in either young or late teens. That’s because boosters involve health risks that teenagers can’t fully understand.

However, many still take them, hoping that the testosterone boosters will result in an increased muscle mass and reduced weight.

What’s more, the research found that many supplement stores are more than happy to sell boosters to teenagers [1]. As many as 41.4% of sales representatives said that 15-year-olds could buy boosters.

Since they’re so widely available to teenagers, it’s crucial that parents keep an eye on their children. They should teach them what a supplement can do to their body and how they can improve their muscle mass with proper nutrition and exercise.

Also read: 8 Best Testosterone Boosters On The Market

Natural Alternatives to Testosterone Boosters for Teens

For teenagers seeking to enhance muscle growth and athletic performance, there are safer, natural alternatives to testosterone boosters.

Dietary changes, such as incorporating zinc-rich foods like spinach, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds, can support natural testosterone production. Engaging in resistance training, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress through mindfulness practices can also positively influence testosterone levels.

Make your teen an exercise schedule and a meal plan. Stick to them for a month, and we guarantee you’ll be surprised by the results. It's essential for teens to understand that sustainable, healthy muscle growth is achievable without resorting to potentially harmful supplements.

The Side Effects Of Testosterone Boosters In Teenagers

chest view of a shirtless man and a close up image of a man's acne

Over the years, I've noticed an uptick in teenagers gravitating towards test boosters, hoping to redefine their physique by shedding weight and cultivating muscle. While it's a fact that testosterone aids tissue growth, the journey with boosters isn't as straightforward as it seems [2].

And a skeletal muscle is, essentially, a tissue. Since boosters also increase energy levels, they can help teenagers reach peak performance in the gym. And showing off in front of their gym buddies may be the number one benefit they’re looking for.

Testosterone boosters, while handy, can backfire for teens with normal testosterone levels, given the natural increase during puberty. Overusing these boosters might lead to excessive male hormone production and some risky side effects, which we'll dive into shortly.

In general, test boosters increase the risk of liver damage, prostate cancer, dehydration, and several other health issues [3].

Moreover, the psychological effects of testosterone boosters on teens can include mood swings, aggression, depression, and impacts on self-esteem, body image, and sexual function.

Post you may like: Is Pre-Workout Bad for Teens

1. Stunted Growth

man using tape measure for his height

According to an article published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, testosterone is responsible for growth spurts in puberty and skeletal muscle growth [4].

So, it makes sense to assume that the testosterone booster would only make a person taller.

But the opposite is often true. If a teen doesn’t suffer from lower testosterone levels, boosters will only halt his bone growth.

They’ll overload healthy males with hormones and accelerate puberty. Since there won’t be enough time for the skeleton to develop, it will end up being shorter than it would naturally be.

2. Acne Outbreaks

According to another study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, excessive testosterone production can further lead to an overproduction of an oily substance called sebum [5].

Sebum often triggers acne, which many teenagers already struggle with.

What’s more, acne outbreaks caused by unnecessary usage of testosterone pills may continue to occur even in adulthood. So, teens taking testosterone boosters are risking permanently damaging their skin.

3. Increased Sexual Desire

Man and Woman looking at each other

Sexual desire depends on testosterone production and testosterone levels. Low testosterone causes low libido, while high testosterone increases it, which is true for both males and females.

We know that teenagers naturally experience an increase in sexual desire because their body produces more sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone).

So, taking testosterone boosters may result in an excessive sex drive due to higher testosterone levels.

On top of that, testosterone boosters that work by blocking estrogen may simultaneously increase sexual desire and decrease sexual performance.

4. Enlarged Male Breast Tissue

Excessive testosterone can even convert to estrogen. This can cause female attributes, like breast tissue, to occur in males:

"The reason you see symptoms like shrunken testicles and breast enlargement is because a lot of excess testosterone is converted to the female hormone estrogen."

- Andjela Drincic, MD, Endocrinologist & Associate Professor

So, while the main benefit teenagers are hoping for is improved body composition, boosters may have the opposite effect. They may increase breast size, and mammary glands and even cause lactation.

For many teenage boys, these consequences stemming from the sex hormones would be a nightmare.

FAQs

Does Testosterone Make You Taller?

Natural testosterone does make you taller. But T boosters may have the opposite effect if you’re taking them during your teen years without having low testosterone levels.


References:

  1. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/12/29/peds.2016-1257
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/veterinary-science-and-veterinary-medicine/testosterone
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/do-testosterone-supplements-work
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3051853/
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