Fatherhood in tall men treated with high-dose sex steroids during adolescence

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Dec;95(12):5233-40. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-0435. Epub 2010 Sep 8.


Background/objective: Sex steroid treatment to reduce final height of tall boys has been available since the 1950s. In women, it has been shown to interfere with fertility. In men, no such data are available. We therefore evaluated fertility and gonadal function in tall men who did or did not receive high-dose androgen treatment in adolescence.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 116 tall men, of whom 60 had been treated. Reproductive and gonadal function was assessed by standardized interview, semen analysis, endocrine parameters, ultrasound imaging, and fatherhood. Mean age at treatment commencement was 14.2 yr, and mean follow-up was 21.2 yr.

Results: Sixty-six men (36 treated and 30 untreated) had attempted to achieve fatherhood. The probability of conceiving their first pregnancy within 1 yr was similar in treated and untreated men (26 vs. 24; Breslow P=0.8). Eleven treated and 13 untreated men presented with a left-sided varicocele (P=0.5). Testicular volume, sperm quality, and serum LH, FSH, and inhibin B levels were comparable between treated and untreated men. However, treated men had significantly reduced serum T levels, adjusted for known confounders [mean (sd) 13.3 (1.8) vs. 15.2 (1.9) nmol/liter; P=0.005). In addition, testicular volume and serum inhibin B and FSH levels in treated men were significantly correlated with age at treatment commencement.

Conclusion: At a mean follow-up of 21 yr after high-dose androgen treatment, we conclude that fatherhood and semen quality in tall treated men are not affected. Serum testosterone levels, however, are reduced in androgen-treated men. Future research is required to determine whether declining testosterone levels may become clinically relevant for these men as they age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androgens / therapeutic use*
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Educational Status
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Fertility / physiology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Semen / physiology
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Androgens
  • Testosterone