Testosterone Shots

What are the side effects of taking testosterone at a young age to boost lack of development? I’m 15.

Testosterone Shots

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

For the past few years, you’ve watched the boys and girls in your class develop and change. Their bodies have changed in proportions, and growth spurts have sent their heights soaring. It can be tough to feel like you’re on the sidelines when it comes to puberty.

Usually, the very first sign of puberty in boys is the enlargement of the testicles (longer than one inch) in order to pump out the supply of testosterone needed to orchestrate the rest of puberty. The skin of the scrotum also gets thinner.

The symphony of change continues with pubic hair and then underarm hair. The penis gets longer and then broader. The whole body grows and gets more muscular. As puberty winds down, the growth plates in the bones close, and you stop growing taller.

When there is no sign of any change by age 13 and a half (13 in girls), it’s a good idea to see a doctor to find out why. The most common reason is called constitutional delayed puberty. This is just a normal variation of the average time schedule. It often runs in families. These healthy people spontaneously go through normal puberty, but at a later date. They just aren’t aging as fast as their peers. A type of x-ray called a bone age scan shows bones that are aging right in synch with the puberty clock. These people keep growing after their peers have stopped. They also delay the beginning of the post-puberty decline.

Testosterone shots are often given to boys aged 14 or older who show no signs of puberty. A low dose is given monthly for four to six months. Puberty generally kicks in within 1 year after the testosterone treatment is begun and continues for about 2 years.

Side Effects

The body is primed for testosterone. Boys with delayed puberty who get the shots often end up being exposed to even less testosterone than their peers who began puberty earlier. Consequently, the side effects from this short-term, low dose are few.

Side effects can happen. Testosterone is one of the steroids people take to try to bulk up and gain weight for sports. This is a real mistake for people whose bodies are already making enough testosterone on their own.

You can expect a gain in weight and strength. You might develop acne. Boys who take testosterone sometimes get gynecomastia, or temporary feminine breast development, which disappears when the course of testosterone is over. The same can happen with male-pattern baldness. Acne, gynecomastia, and baldness are the three most common side effects reported.

A little sodium and water retention is also common while taking testosterone, but not enough to be a problem for those who are otherwise healthy. Sometimes the blood pressure is elevated. Testosterone can also elevate cholesterol levels. Blood clotting problems are rare. Liver problems are common in those taking oral forms of the hormone for long periods of time but are very rare in those who take the shots. Serious problems, such as blood-filled cysts or liver tumors, are rare, and these usually go away when the testosterone is stopped. Some people may experience emotional and behavioral changes with steroid use, including irritability, aggressiveness, euphoria, depression, and mood swings.

The Bottom Line

That list of side effects sounds formidable, but it is not too different from the list of things that can accompany puberty. Low-dose testosterone shots for up to 6 months are pretty safe.

For most boys experiencing late puberty, being short is more difficult to deal with than the delay in sexual changes. There has been some concern that taking testosterone might decrease final height, but short-term, low-dose testosterone doesn’t compromise height. It won’t increase your overall height, either. In people with constitutional puberty delay, puberty eventually arrives whether or not testosterone is used. Testosterone just helps puberty kick in earlier and can help your enjoyment of the next couple of years by putting you on the same playing field as your peers.

April 24, 2008

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. DE

    I’m 15 I’m 5 feet 2 inches I only 100 pounds I have very little pubic hair and no pit hair, and a abnormally small penis. I have low self-esteem and I have slipped into a deep depression and now I’m starting too have suicidal thoughts.:( I just want to be normal.

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    • Dear DE,

      The most important thing in your comment above is that you’ve become depressed and are having suicidal thoughts. You need to get help ASAP. Don’t wait. It may become harder to talk about. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) now and discuss your depression and fears.

      It is wise for you to seek medical care for physical concerns. This can start with your primary care physician, but may include specialists to evaluate your stage of puberty and possible treatments if needed.

      Please reach out now to the people at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They know how to help you.

      Very concerned,
      @MsGreene

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  2. Justin

    Hey, I’m 20 years old and I’m 4’9…… I sometimes get mistaken to be a 5th grader…. I have no confidence because I have a 2 inch penis…. I just don’t know what to do anymore because I plan on having a family one day and I wouldn’t want my little son looking older than me at age 12.

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    • Kyle

      Its alright man I’m 33 and I have a chode too. I’m 4’5.

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  3. Rab

    Hi i started taking testosterone when i was around 15 and stopped when i was 16 i am now nearly 18 i have never had any problems with my height i have always been rather tall and big built. The treatment has worked to a degree i have acne, hair over my body but its not happening fast enough down there its so frustrating i dont know what to do, am i finished puberty and stuck like this or do i have alot more growing to do im so depressed and frustrated will going to the docters and asking for more hormones make this happen faster ? I just dont know what to do .

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    • Joe

      I didn’t not hit puberty til age 17. I was 5’10” 155 lbs. I was also a great athlete but all the other boys were getting hair bigger and faster. I didn’t take anything but supplements to build muscle and weight. When I finally hit puberty at 17 1/2 I got so much faster agile and stronger than the other players. In 3 months I grew to 6’2″ 210 lbs. Just wait it out and it will happen. Also my penis didn’t get its biggest until I was 22 so give that all its time also.

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      • Joe

        Actually 5’9″

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  4. cory

    Hi i started these shots almost 6 months ago having 1 shot a month in the @$$, lol
    im 5 foot and age 16 its embarrassing to tell people my age because people say i look like a 12 year old, my penis and balls are quite small and I really wish i just had enough confidence to be happy. I have hair on my armpits and pubic area. I have one more shot left in march and im hoping that by summer i look a little older. I reallllyyy really dont want to look like this when im graduating from highschool next year it would kill me….

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    • count Stephen von Siebenburg

      Cory: At 4 foot 10 I was the shortest kid in my entire school in the 7th grade. No girl ever looked at me and I was not picked for any sports team. To me my penis size didn’t matter (it was proportionately small as well) because I figured I’d never need it for anything besides peeing anyway. I was not bullied because I was a fierce little 89 pound fighter and people knew that, but otherwise I was alone and miserable. Then I went away for the summer in which I turned 13. Spent it at our new country home. Came back to school in September at 5 foot 8 and 135 pounds. Nobody at school seemed to know who I was. Seriously. And the penis was suddenly something any man would be happy with. Now in the 8th grade and recognizably male, I became a top athlete and an person of interest to girls. All this in a few months. The moral of the story is Hang In There, buddy! You’re tough situation is very temporary. By the way, my son still looked 12 when he was 16 also – by 17 he was 5’10” with a hairier chest than me. It also occurred virtually overnight. Boys who are late to the party having been going through this angst since the first boy walked the planet. It gets better, believe me, son.

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  5. Susan

    My son has just started testosterone injections monthly for a year at 100mg. He previously had a three month course that resulted in minimum response. I am concerned because after only two injections this time around he appears to have suddenly put on a dramatic amount of weight especially to his face, chest and stomach. As you can imagine he is finding this difficult to cope with. There has been no apparent height gain I should add.

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  6. Shureaka

    My son is 9 years old and he was circumcised when he was born but you cant tell. He still has to pull back skin and his penis is only an inch long. His pediatrician said he is fine but i dont belive its normal. Should i get a second opinion and what type of doctor should we see?

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  7. Emma

    Is it ok for a 16 year old girl to take testosterone shots indefinitely? (transmale)

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  8. Monica Bray

    I’m surprised that the most common chromosomal variation in males (47,XXY) is not mentioned here, as the only key consequence is low testosterone (with its expected symptoms) and more rarely penile and testes size. If it affects 1 in 500 boys, virtually all the signs and symptoms reported by the posts on this stream fit the profile. It explains why only 30% of cases are ever diagnosed, if a Karyotype blood test is not the first level of assessment is offered. The recommendation to wait and see can only be offered once the syndrome has been excluded.
    For up-to-date information, please consult genetic.org. It is supported by the world leaders in the field and they hold a biennial conference for families, adults and professionals. They publish information brochures and have a hotline for an informal chat and advice.

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  9. D1

    I’m 19 and have looked to have gone through puberty but my penis is abnormally small the same with my testes. Am I now too old to get these testosterone boosters if so what can I do as I now have no confidence to do anything

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    • Monica

      You may require a Karyotype blood test to check if there is a genetic reason for your observations. One in 500 males have a genetic variation of the sex chromosome. This is not inherited, but simply an event that occurs naturally at conception when the first few cells start dividing to form the fetus. It is called XXY syndrome. If your test result is positive, there is treatment but no cure, and lots of support groups online. Best wishes!

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  10. Mr. B

    My 15 year old nephew is worried about several things. He’s very small, body wise and male parts wise. Now, his birth mother used drugs during pregnancy, he was beaten/abused until he was 2 and then he was adopted by a loving family and he’s been on adhd meds pretty much his whole life. The biggest concern is blood when urinating and during ejaculation, which is very worrisome. I’ve mentioned this to his dad several times starting many months ago, but he has yet to go see a doctor. He is 5’2″ and weighs maybe around 100 pounds and previous doctors have said he won’t grow much more so aside from the blood, I wonder if he had low T?

    Any advice including how to get a sense of urgency to his dad would be greatly appreciated.

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    • As a mom, I have to say, blood in the urine should not be left unchecked. This would be a good reason to go to the doctor and then you can bring up all your other concerns. If you live close enough, or can make your way there, it might be helpful if you offer to take your nephew to the doctor, with his father’s permission.

      I’m sure your nephew will appreciate everything you do on his behalf.

      Best,
      @MsGreene, Co-founder DrGreene.com

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  11. Gary Palmer

    Hello,
    As the father of a 9 year old boy, I have concerns over his present (and future penis size). Can you advise at what age he would/should receive treatment?
    My wife has raised concerns about our son’s penis size, based in part on what she sees when she takes him swimming/sports etc.
    Regards,
    Gary.

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    • This is a good time to bring it up with your pediatrician. He may want to monitor size as puberty begins and having a baseline could be helpful.

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  12. Jim Hayes

    I’m 17 and considering taking 200/300 mg of testosterone enanthate each week for 10 weeks, is this advisable?

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    • legnagelan

      That’s too much! I’m 25 and I will start TRT tomorrow and my doctor recommended me 100mg every week. I wouldn’t recommend you to start any testosterone treatment without going to a lab and getting your hormones levels. Look that I’m not even mentioning a doctor, but make sure you track your hormone levels, and remember you can end up infertile after using testosterone, this is because your body stop producing it. I even froze sperm today itself. good luck.

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  13. Just a Bro

    For a boy that has not hit puberty at all I would say an injection of 0.4ml Sustanon 250 every 3 weeks for up to 3-5 injections, bro.

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  14. Private

    I’m 13 and a half now and show absolutely no sign of puberty and it’s causing me depression and I don’t feel like a “teenager” and don’t feel like most kids my age. Please help me!!

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    • This would be a great time to talk to your doctor. He will likely do a physical exam and discuss your options.

      Hope that is helpful,
      @MsGreene

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    • Just a Bro

      Been there. Have a little more patience, and go to your GP when you are 14 and still show no signs.

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  15. Disha

    I m 15yrs old but my height in 146 cm i need to grow more… because i want to become a model in future.. so please suggest me a method to increase my height.. hope to get back a reply soon!

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  16. Mr. KBW

    My son is almost 13 1/2 years old, seems to be normal height, but is not showing any signs of physical maturity. He is still built like he was in elementary school and has no hair at all anywhere on his body (except for normal places), and is showing signs of fear in football. Would testosterone shots be a possible solution for him?

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    • Just a Bro

      If he hits 14 years of age and still isn’t showing signs of hitting puberty. And his testes are still relatively small. Go to your GP.

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  17. Mikey

    I have gotten tall slightly but my penis is not growing it’s like 2-3inches and it’s not thick and I don’t produce cum I have small testies and a little pubes and under arm hair but I’m 16 what do I do

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    • At 16, it’s time for a visit with your doctor. Pediatricians see patients until they are completely finished with puberty, so this could be a good choice. Alternatively, this could be a good time to switch to see an Internist for your primary doctor.

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  18. Dorothy

    Hi. My 9 yr old son was born with a micro penis and no testicles. We had exploratory surgery done to see if the testicles were hiding… and there were none. My question is, at what age should he start getting testosterone shots.

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  19. jonathan

    what is considered a low dose?
    thanks

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    • Just a Bro

      For a boy who has not hit puberty yet I would say 0.4ml Sustanon 250 every 3 weeks.

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  20. Malcolm

    Im 18 I just started taking the medicine how fast can I expect it to work for me. I need it to be quick because I’m going off to college soon. Please help Doctor Greene

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  21. maria

    Im 16 and im really short also have a body of a little kid. Now I’m worried that im not gonna grow more because my mom and I have the same height. So I think I got that from her and i really wish to grow a few more inches. When I ask people about that they keep telling I should have a good hours of sleep, but I have tight schedule because of my work and school. If there’s a good Vitamins or pills that will effectively help me then I would love to know about that. Anyway, I will really really appreciate it if you take time to read and email me back. Thank toy so much for your time.

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  22. Benjamin

    I started the treatment at 14 and I am now 15. I have not grown in height more then 1/4 of an inch and I am worried that my bad habit of masturbation is whats stopping it. I only do it about once every 2 weeks. Is that whats causing me to not grow?

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  23. Cliny Bug

    Hi, I have this treatment when i was 12 and i am wondering if that could have had an effect on my nose and ears since testosterone at puberty influence a lot those.
    Thank.

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