“Will HGH make me taller?” – this is a question many adolescents and adults have asked themselves. The simple answer is that if you’re an adult, you’re not likely to get taller with human growth hormone, but it may have some other benefits. As a teen, though, there is a chance that HGH can make you taller.
Continue reading to discover how HGH works, in addition to the pros and cons of adolescent and adult use.
What is HGH and What Does it Do?
HGH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland situated right under the brain. This hormone regulates our metabolism and stimulates the bones and muscles to grow. It also manages insulin levels and the general health of the body’s fat, muscle, tissue, and bone.
The production of HGH peaks during puberty, causing most teens to have sudden growth spurts. It prompts the liver to generate insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a compound that signals bone growth. After reaching middle age, HGH levels start reducing.
Will HGH Injections Make an Adult Taller?
Because of HGH’s role during puberty, many adults mistakenly believe that it can make them taller no matter their age. However, whether growth hormone therapy will affect adult height depends on whether the growth plates have closed.
What are Growth Plates & When Do They Close?
The growth plates are soft tissue or cartilage areas at the ends of long bones. For example, there’s growth plates at the femur or thigh bone and the tibia or calf bone and these two bones play a large role in height. The release of HGH stimulates this cartilage while a child is growing, and it creates additional layers of bone, increasing height.
These growth plates close between 13-15 for girls and 15-17 for boys. At this age, these plates harden and prevent further bone growth. Some people who entered puberty at an older age, or “late bloomers”, might still have unfused growth plates, though.
A doctor can check a person’s “bone age” to determine whether their growth plates are still open. Doctors do this by examining an x-ray of the forearm bones. If growth plates are not fused, only then will HGH injections have any effect on height for adults.
Benefits of HGH as an Adult
In most cases, HGH is prescribed to adults to treat HGH deficiencies. Medical conditions like tumors on the pituitary gland, HIV, and AIDS can cause this deficiency and decrease bone density, poorer memory, and fatigue.
Some adults do take HGH injections for non-health-related reasons, though. Even if the growth plates are closed, HGH can still have some benefits since it has anti-aging properties and helps with growth in general.
Being anabolic, HGH can promote muscle growth. This anabolism means that HGH increases the metabolic activity where simple molecules combine to form more complex molecules like proteins. These proteins and other molecules, when combined with exercises like weight-lifting, help build muscle faster. Some bodybuilders also use HGH for this reason.
Though not everyone may benefit from this, HGH can have effects akin to steroid use in many people. Many sports associations ban it because of how much advantage it can give to some athletes.
HGH can decrease fat in older individuals, leading to leaner body composition and a more conventionally attractive body. In a study of men with an average age of 69, researchers found that men who took HGH lost 4.6 pounds of muscle mass and fat, making them look leaner than the control group.
This hormone also increases exercise capacity, which means older adults may hold on to their health and younger look for longer. These benefits may make many adults more accepting of their bodies and less worried about their heights.
Will HGH Make a Teen or Child Taller?
Yes, as long as the growth plates are open, HGH can make a teen or child taller. However, this requires daily injections for years, and the average height gain over 5 and a half years is only 2 inches.
If a child takes larger doses of HGH, it might make children up to 4.5 inches taller. This therapy won’t change a genetic predisposition towards being short, though, as height is 80% dependent on genetics and only 20% affected by external factors.
Essentially, HGH therapy may be an option for healthy children who are shorter than 97% of their peers or have medical conditions like dwarfism but may not be worth the expense and risks otherwise.
Parents can also try natural ways to increase HGH in children. Encouraging physical activity will help keep kids in good shape, and the fat reduction will boost HGH production. Feeding kids a healthy diet low in sugar and including foods high in arginine, like seeds, chicken, and brown rice. Only 5-9g of arginine a day can increase HGH production at night by 100%.
Are There Risks Associated with Prescribed HGH?
Prescribed HGH comes with risks similar to anabolic steroid abuse. In the long term, it can cause intense acne, gynecomastia in men (growth of breasts), increased cholesterol levels, higher risk of heart disease, anger, kidney and liver dysfunction, balding, and shrinking testicles. It might even make people sterile.
Besides these risks, children prescribed HGH also have a higher risk of life-threatening strokes. Out of 7,000 children, 11 children ended up having strokes, twice as many as expected, with 4 being fatal ones that cause bleeding inside the brain. Such children are also six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes within an average of 3 years of growth hormone treatment.
One of the most significant risks with prescribing HGH to children is the psychological one. Though tallness has clear benefits in that taller people often earn more and tend to be happier with themselves, short kids also have a good chance of growing up to be happy, well-adjusted adults.
A prescription of HGH may end up making a confident child feel insecure about their stature, leading to lifelong issues with height dysphoria.
How Much Does HGH Therapy Cost?
HGH therapy can cost anywhere between $10,000 and $60,000 per year, depending on the dosage and frequency of injections. At best, this expense can cost up to $52,000 per inch, which may not be worth it for many people.
This therapy is also rarely covered by insurance unless it’s treating a medical condition and not just to increase height, making it even more unaffordable.
Alternatives to Increase Height as an Adult
There’s only a slim chance that HGH will affect your growth rate or height as an adult. Still, you can use heel inserts and elevator shoes to appear taller in daily life. Specific exercises and stretches that strengthen the core and loosen the shoulder and neck muscles may be a good idea as well.
These exercises can improve your posture, making you stand taller and giving the appearance of increased height. If you’re already at an almost average height or slightly under for your gender and region, these options might work for you.
If your stature is causing you severe distress and you’re dead-set on gaining a height increase, leg lengthening surgery may be an option. This surgery can add up to 15 cm of height within a couple of years and might alleviate your height-related insecurities. Though it’s a reliable procedure, do consider the risks of such a surgery.
Before taking any major steps, it’s always suggested to speak to a doctor so they may advise the best form of treatment.
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