When Do Men Stop Growing?
Men usually stop growing after puberty — around the age of 18 — but some may experience spurts until their early 20s.
There are several factors that impact male growth and determine their final adult height, including genetics, health during childhood, and hormonal imbalances.
Things like regular physical exercise and following a balanced diet may help males stay healthy, especially if they are still in the developmental phase.
If you have any concerns about your height or if it’s causing any type of emotional distress, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional.
For many men, height can be a source of deep concern, leading them to question whether they have any control over this aspect of their physique.
Growth is a complex process that involves genetics, hormones, and environmental factors that all impact male development.
Knowing how these components come together to influence male growth is vital for understanding the developmental phase — and this article has got you covered.
Why Do Men Stop Growing?
Men usually stop growing when their epiphyseal plates (growth plates) fuse. This process is also known as epiphyseal closure.
Growth plates are areas of cartilage located at the end of the long bones. During puberty, these plates rapidly produce new bone, causing a major increase in height in this stage of life.
This biological event — the fusion of growth plates — marks the end of the vertical growth phase and typically occurs during late adolescence.
Can men still grow after puberty?
For most boys, growth in height typically ends around the age of 18. However, this can vary from person to person, with some men continuing to have growth spurts until their early 20s.
This variation largely depends on individual differences, genetic factors, and overall health during their adolescent years. We’ll discuss these factors in more detail a bit later.
Should you be worried about your height?
Height is a trait determined by factors that are typically beyond our control — such as genetics and environmental factors.
It’s important to remember that height varies between populations, and the differences are vast.
If you are concerned about your height, remember that it’s not something that defines your capabilities or self-worth.
However, if there is a significant deviation from the standard growth pattern — such as an unusually early or late growth spurt or no signs of development for an extended period — it might be worth mentioning this to your doctor.
Some underlying health issues — like a growth hormone deficiency (GHD) — can affect your growth, and early intervention is essential to avoid a negative impact on your well-being.
Key Factors Influencing Male Height
Genetics plays the biggest role — around 80% — in determining how tall men will be.
A man’s genetic predisposition will depend on how tall his parents are and if height runs in the family.
If both his parents — and the family in general — are tall, he will likely be tall. The same goes for people of short stature.
There is currently no way to change your genetic predisposition to being tall or short.
Nutrition also plays a key role in determining male height and it has the second largest impact after genetics.
Studies have shown that children who don’t get enough nutrients through their diet often experience stunted growth.
Protein deficiency, in particular, has a big impact on how tall men will be. Other minerals that have an effect on height include vitamin D and vitamin A.
Certain health conditions and medications may stunt male growth. Conditions that have the biggest impact include:
- Thyroid disease
- Turner syndrome (TS)
- Down syndrome (DS)
- Bone diseases
- Russell-Silver syndrome (RSS)
- Childhood cancer
- Cushing syndrome (CS)
- Digestive tract diseases
Many of these conditions will be diagnosed at birth, but some will only develop later in life.
Consult your doctor if you have a family history of these conditions or if you start showing symptoms.
They can provide you with a professional diagnosis and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.
Some stimulant medications — like those used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — may cause delays in growth.
A small-scale observational study found that children with an average age between 1 and 16 who were being treated for ADHD experienced a temporary standstill in height and weight increases.
Even after taking the medication for a number of years, the children still hadn’t managed to catch up to their predicted growths.
Although this study had interesting results, it’s important to note that more substantial research is necessary to fully understand the impact of medication on male growth.
The body produces growth and thyroid-stimulating hormones when you sleep — two hormones that are essential for proper bone development.
Not getting enough or adequate sleep is believed to stunt growth because the body is unable to produce these important hormones.
Further research is needed to determine the exact impact of sleep on height.
A hormone imbalance may slow or quicken growth. Hormones act as chemical messengers in the body and prompt a number of important developmental processes.
When there is an imbalance in the hormones that are important for growth — namely the growth and thyroid hormones — it might have an impact on male height.
An excess of growth hormone (GH) may cause gigantism — where growth is accelerated and continuous — and a deficiency may stunt growth or cause dwarfism.
Imbalances in the thyroid hormones can also delay or stimulate growth and hinder overall development.
In some cases, fluctuating thyroid hormones can cause growth hormones to fuse prematurely, resulting in a shorter stature.
Health during childhood
A man’s overall well-being during his childhood will also play a role in his growth when puberty begins.
During this period the body’s development is most sensitive, and there are many factors that will determine how men evolve in their adult life. These factors may include:
Infectious diseases: Frequent or chronic infections can stunt growth by limiting nutrient absorption. This can contribute to inflammation that may interfere with the body’s growth processes.
Gastrointestinal disorders: Diseases like celiac or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can prevent the body from absorbing the essential nutrients, which can impact growth in men.
Physiological stress: Chronic stress or emotional trauma may affect the endocrine system. This can suppress GH production and function, which may lead to stunted growth.
Environmental factors: Exposure to harmful environmental factors — such as lead or other toxins — can suppress hormone production and cause imbalances, which negatively affect growth.
Physical activity — especially during childhood — can have a big impact on a man’s adult height.
Exercise can stimulate the pituitary gland to promote the release and production of GH.
This also helps to prevent elevated estrogen levels, which might cause premature fusion of growth plates in males.
Regular physical activity also improves metabolic function and nutrient absorption, allowing the body to access vitamins and minerals that are essential for growth.
Socioeconomic status can play a role in height and growth. For example:
Children of a higher socioeconomic status — including higher income — may have better access to adequate nutrition, childcare, and medical or social services.
In lower social classes, malnutrition and overweight conditions — such as obesity — may be more prevalent due to poor diet. This may cause children to have stunted growth.
The size of the family may also indirectly affect children’s height. Some European studies have shown that men in larger families are usually shorter and slimmer than those with fewer siblings.
Is There Anything Men Can Do to Influence Their Height?
Once the growth plates fuse, there’s not much that anyone can do about their height.
However, you might be able to make small gains by improving your posture and straightening your spine. Remember that this won’t make your bones grow longer.
Some ways you may be able to improve your posture include:
- Strengthening your core
- Regular stretching
- Sitting with good posture
- Exercising regularly
- Reminding yourself not to slouch
If you are still growing, eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep can help you maximize your growth potential.
Should You See a Doctor About Male Growth?
Whether you are a parent worried about your son's development or an adult concerned about your height or growth, speaking to a doctor or pediatrician may help reassure you or provide guidance on you or your child’s growth patterns.
Scheduling regular checkups can help them to develop optimally and also allows doctors to identify any growth-stunting issues early on.
LifeMD can connect you to a team of medical professionals who can help you answer all your growth and height-related concerns. Make an appointment today to get started.
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