Does Testosterone Make Voice Deeper?

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

ben bunting BA(Hons) PgCert Sport & Exercise Nutriton  Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.

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The physical difference between a man's voice and a woman's is similar to the differences between a violin and a cello. A cello's strings vibrate slowly, while a violin's strings vibrate quickly. These differences emerge at puberty, when testosterone causes the cords to grow thicker and longer. As a result, men have a deeper, more resonant voice.

Testosterone levels

According to David Puts, anthropologist and specialist in the study of human voice preferences, the deep-pitched voices of men are largely due to high testosterone levels. High testosterone levels cause the vocal cords to thicken and vibrate at a lower frequency. Testosterone is also linked to high libido and physical competitiveness, and may even be responsible for men's low-pitched voices.

A 1999 paper looked at testosterone levels and voice depth. The researchers discovered and predicted that those males with higher levels of salivary testosterone had depper voices. Interestingly this relationship was not seen amongst females in the study.

During puberty, men's testosterone levels increase, and they have thicker vocal chords. This thicker vocal chord resonates with vibrations better, giving men a bass-like voice. Although men's voices are naturally deep and masculine, women's voices are higher pitched and have a softer quality. 

Vocal cord thickening

One possible cause of a higher voice is low testosterone levels. The male hormone T is known to influence the vocal cord, which expresses receptors for both estrogen and androgens. Androgens are known to cause hypertrophy of the thyroarytenoid muscle, which leads to the characteristic lower-pitched male voice. Androgens also cause vocal fold thickening, which is responsible for the deeper sound of the voice.

The vocal cord has three layers, the outermost one being hypocellular and the deepest one being hypercellular. The innermost layer was much less cellularly populated. During childhood, vocal cords had yet to mature, and the two layers were very different. The cellular population and fiber composition were not yet defined for adolescence. However, it is possible that testosterone contributes to the thickening of vocal cord tissue.

Bassy voice

The thicker your vocal chord is, the lower frequency vibrations it produces. This characteristic is what gives men their distinctive male voices. Women have softer vocal muscles, which is why their voices are higher in frequency. The male voice, therefore, is a deeper and more resonant sound.

Typical male voice pitch ranges from 85 to 180 hertz. Whereas the pitch for females usually ranges from 165 to 225 hertz.

The physical differences between men and women begin at puberty, and testosterone helps a boy's larynx to grow longer and thicker.

Male Singers and Testosterone

In the seventeenth century, the castrato was a common figure in the opera world. These men were castrated before reaching puberty, sang operas, churches, and even the Sistine Chapel. While they did not have barrel chests, their lack of testosterone did not affect their vocal range. As a result, their bones grew very long and their rib cages were abnormally large.

The castrati replaced boys and falsettists in choirs, where they had weaker voices. They also had a high status in the church, where they were given free education, food, and shelter. The last castrato was castrated in 1865, when he was seven years old. He was then recruited into the Sitine Chapel Choir. 

Castration is the process that results in the castrato voice. Castration before puberty prevents the development of the larynx and produces a man's voice with great power and flexibility. The castrato voice was first introduced in the 16th century as women were banned from singing in church choirs, and reached its height in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although castration is still illegal, it results in a masculine voice that has unique range and power.

A 2001 study found that a male tenor singer (noted as being the highest chest voice type) demonstrated characteristics of hypogndism. He was administered testosterone replacement therapy which significantly altered his voice. 

It must be noted that this singer was suffering from low testosterone and the effects on his voice took place once as his testosterone levels were rectified. 

Do anabolic steroids change the voice?

Anabolic steroid use amongst women can make changes to the voice which has been recorded as irreversible even after steroid use has ceased. 

This is because anabolic steroids increase vocal fold thickening.  

Around 10% of males receiving prescribed anabolic steroids report a lowering of their voice pitch and frequency. 

Trans men

Studies have shown that testosterone treatment affects the voice of transgender men. The voice of transgender men begins to deepen between two and four months after starting treatment. However, this effect does not last. Patients should be carefully monitored and counseled throughout the process.

How long does it take for testosterone to change your voice: FTM?

Whether or not testosteorne replacement therapy will make a trans man's voice deeper depends on a number of factors. First of all, the amount of testosterone in the body influences the voice. The increase in testosterone in a man's body thickens the vocal cords and deepens the voice. However, there is a risk of permanent damage to the voice if the increase is sudden. Taking TRT can result in voice deepening, but it takes six to nine months to see the full effect. Also, higher doses of testosterone are associated with quicker results.

While transgender men who use testosterone replacement therapy can achieve their desired voice without voice therapy, the hormone is still able to affect their voice. While the voice is deeper, the larynx size limits the size of the vocal folds. If testosterone replacement therapy is used correctly, transgender men can experience a deeper voice.

Menopause

During menopause, female singers experience additional challenges. The decrease in estrogen levels causes extensive changes in mucous membranes, including the larynx. The larynx also swells and absorbs water, which decreases F0. These changes can lead to decreased fundamental frequency (pitch), hoarseness, and difficulty with complex motor tasks. As a result, a woman's voice can become shallow and thin, and her ability to sing will be reduced.

Conclusion

Men with naturally higher levels of testosterone are more likely to have a deeper voice, as such those men who use anabolic steroids or testosterone replacement therapy may also experience a deepening of the voice. 

Females who use anabolic steroids are likely to develop a deeper voice as a side effect which is irreversible. 

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