You’ve heard the locker room jabs made towards the ultra-shredded guys at the gym:
“He’s overcompensating for being small down there.”
“Want to bet the ‘roids did a number on his penis?”
Like all outlandish men’s health rumors, the idea that synthetic anabolic steroids (like Tren and Deca) or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can shrink your penis thrives on social media. Many gear users worry that they’ll lose inches off of their manhood just months into TRT or anabolic steroids.
But is there any merit to the anecdotes that anabolic steroids make your penis small? Board-certified urologist Amy Pearlman, M.D. sets the record straight.
Do Steroids Make Your Penis Small?
“There is limited scientific research specifically examining the direct impact of steroids on penis size in humans,” says Pearlman. “It’s important to note that individual responses to steroids can vary and may impact penis size,” says Pearlman.
But it may be hard to tell if illegal anabolic steroids taken in large doses could have an impact on penis size, since most guys are self-dosing.
Even if the size of your boat is ok, the motion it makes in the ocean could be at risk. Studies have found that taking anabolic steroids can negatively impact your performance in bed. A review published in 2022 found that sexual dysfunction—particularly erectile dysfunction—is one of the most pertinent consequences of men who abuse anabolic steroids (1).
So What Does Cause a Small Penis?
While gear probably won’t shrink your penis, conditions like Peyronie’s disease—when scar tissue develops in the penis—can make you shorter. “Because scar tissue doesn’t stretch as well, when it forms in the penis, it can cause penile shortening and penile curvature,” says Pearlman.
Excessive weight gain (especially around your genitals or belly) may also make your penis appear smaller (2).
Getting and maintaining regular erections is the key to optimizing your size, per Pearlman.
“It’s not solely about sexual activity, but rather about promoting blood flow to the penis consistently,” Pearlman says. “By having regular erections, men can help keep their penile tissue in top shape, similar to how bicep curls maintain strong arms.”
BOOST YOUR SEX LIFE
But Can’t Testosterone Shrink Your Balls?
Here’s why: When functioning properly, your testes produce testosterone for your body to use. When an abundance of exogenous (external) testosterone enters the body, the body’s natural production of T may decline, says Pearlman. “As a consequence, the testicles may shrink due to reduced activity and decreased production of testosterone.”
But ball shrinkage doesn’t have to be permanent.
“Fortunately, we have medications that can help stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone again, called gonadotropins, which can also help increase testicular volume,” Pearlman says. “The testicles may not increase in volume to what they were prior to anabolic steroid use, but they may still get bigger.”
How is TRT different from anabolic steroids?
In men, testosterone stimulates the development of sex organs and can promote formation of bone, red blood cells, and muscles—which means testosterone is technically an anabolic steroid since “anabolic”, put simply, means to promote growth. However, when you hear someone at the gym talking about “taking steroids,” they are most likely referring to misusing man-made steroids without a prescription.
Basically, TRT is testosterone prescribed and dosed by a doctor primarily to alleviate hypogonadism, or low testosterone. But when athletes misuse synthetic anabolic steroids by taking them to build muscle or improve performance, they often take them in doses 10 to 100 times greater than what a physician would advise for a TRT dose (3).
The risks of anabolic steroid misuse
While anabolic steroids are unlikely to shrink your penis, there’s plenty of other reasons to steer clear of gear. Side effects of anabolic steroid misuse—according to the Cleveland Clinic—include:
- Liver damage
- Increased risk for testicular cancer
- Enlarged breasts
- Mania and delusions
- Major depressive disorder
TRT: A Better Alternative to Steroids
If you’re not seeing the gains you used to, you might be tempted to opt for a quick fix from a shady gear site. But muscle loss or fatigue could be a sign of low testosterone, a condition that researchers estimate may affect up to 1 in 4 American men over age 30 (4).
While a decrease in testosterone is a normal part of aging, you don’t have to suffer with the symptoms.
Hone Health’s at-home assessment tests for free and total testosterone levels. Once you complete your assessment, one of Hone Health’s partner physicians will go over your results and discuss treatment options like TRT.