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Does a deep voice mean high testosterone?

There is a common perception that men with deeper voices tend to have higher levels of testosterone. This belief stems from the observation that during puberty, a boy’s voice deepens as his testosterone levels rise. However, while testosterone is responsible for the deepening of the male voice during adolescence, the relationship between voice pitch and testosterone in adulthood is more complex. In this article, we will examine the evidence on whether voice pitch can serve as a reliable indicator of testosterone levels in grown men.

Voice Pitch and Puberty

During puberty, rising testosterone levels stimulate growth and development of the larynx, or voice box, in boys. The larynx grows in size, and the vocal cords become longer and thicker. This growth causes the voice to “break” and deepen in pitch. Testosterone causes thickening and lengthening of the vocal folds and larynx and also affects the muscles and cartilage of the larynx. As a result, male voices drop by about an octave, usually to between 100 and 150 Hz from a child’s average voice pitch of 250 Hz. The extent of voice deepening varies across individuals, resulting in a wide range of voice pitches in adult males.

So while voice pitch drops dramatically in adolescent boys along with rising testosterone, this does not necessarily mean that adult males with naturally deeper voices have higher testosterone. Multiple factors independent of hormone levels can affect voice pitch in men.

Factors Affecting Adult Male Voice Pitch


Genetics play a major role in determining voice pitch both before and after puberty. For example, males whose fathers had lower-pitched voices during adolescence tend to undergo more significant voice deepening themselves. The specific genes involved in determining vocal pitch are not fully understood but appear to influence larynx growth. Genes likely explain much of the normal variation in voice pitch seen across adult males.

Larynx Size

Larger larynxes produce lower-pitched voices. Larynx size is determined by multiple genetic and developmental factors, not just testosterone exposure. A large larynx capable of producing very low frequencies can persist into adulthood independent of testosterone levels. Professional opera singers provide one example—opera singers have significantly larger larynx sizes as adults compared to the general population, enabling greater vocal projection and range.

Vocal Cord Length

Longer vocal cords can vibrate at lower frequencies, producing lower-pitched voices. Vocal fold length is determined largely during puberty, but its maintenance in adulthood does not rely exclusively on testosterone. Growth hormone and other factors also affect vocal cord size. Again, genetics account for much of the natural variation in vocal fold length between men.

Lifestyle Factors

Various lifestyle and health factors can also influence voice pitch, such as:

– Smoking: Irritates vocal cords, deepening the voice.

– Weight: Excess fat accumulation around the neck and vocal cords correlates with slightly lower voice pitch.

– Dehydration: Dries out vocal cords and makes voice deeper.

– Vocal fatigue: Overuse temporarily deepens the voice.

– Thyroid problems: Hypothyroidism leads to voice deepening.

So while testosterone clearly causes voice pitch changes during male adolescence, many other factors contribute to the natural range of voice pitches in men after puberty. Having a naturally deeper voice does not necessarily mean a man has higher testosterone.

Studies Correlating Voice Pitch and Testosterone

Several studies have directly investigated the relationship between voice pitch and testosterone levels in adult men. The findings show there is only a weak correlation at best:

Weak Correlation in Healthy Men

A study measured testosterone levels and voice pitch in a group of 45 healthy men between 18 and 45 years old. There was no statistically significant direct correlation between testosterone and voice pitch in the full study population. However, a very weak inverse correlation was observed in a subgroup of 15 men with average testosterone levels below 400 ng/dL. In other words, among men with lower testosterone, there was a slight tendency for those with lower voices to have higher testosterone. The correlation was too weak to be clinically relevant though.

No Correlation in Elite Athletes

This study analyzed voice recordings and testosterone levels of adult male athletes training for international competitions. No significant correlations were found between voice pitch and testosterone concentration. The athletes with lowest voice frequencies did not have higher testosterone than those with higher voice frequencies.

Weak Correlation in Transgender Males

This study of transgender men undergoing testosterone therapy found only a weak inverse correlation between voice pitch and testosterone levels. Those with lower voice frequencies tended to have slightly higher testosterone, but this was not statistically significant. Many subjects with the lowest voice frequencies actually had low to medium testosterone levels.

No Correlation in Elderly Males

A study of 70 men over age 70 found no association between salivary testosterone concentration and voice pitch. There were men with both high testosterone and high-pitched voices, and vice versa. Age-related hormonal changes likely obscured any minor relationship between testosterone and voice pitch in this group.

So while a few minor correlations have been observed in some populations, these studies overall indicate voice pitch is not a reliable surrogate for testosterone level in men. There are many other factors that contribute to determining voice pitch beyond testosterone concentration.

When to Test Testosterone Levels

Based on the weak evidence connecting voice pitch and testosterone levels, testing testosterone is not warranted based on voice pitch alone. However, men experiencing specific symptoms suggestive of low testosterone may want to consider laboratory testing:

– Persistent fatigue and low energy
– Loss of libido or erectile dysfunction
– Loss of muscle mass and strength
– Increased body fat, especially around the waist
– Mood changes like depression or irritability
– Difficulty concentrating or focusing
– Low sperm count or reduced fertility

If these symptoms of possible hypogonadism are present, then checking testosterone levels can help determine if hormone supplementation may be beneficial. But voice pitch alone should not prompt testosterone screening.


While testosterone is responsible for deepening the male voice during puberty, studies show voice pitch is only weakly related to testosterone levels in adulthood, if at all. Many genetic and lifestyle factors independent of hormones contribute to natural variations in male voice pitch. Although men with very high testosterone levels tend to have lower than average voices, having a naturally deep voice does not necessarily signify higher testosterone concentrations. Voice pitch alone should not be used to infer testosterone status in men. Hormone testing is more appropriate for men experiencing low testosterone symptoms rather than simply having a deep voice.