Everything You Need to Know About Adam's Apples

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A doctor checking a patient's adam's apple

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An Adam’s apple is a bump of cartilage that protrudes on the front of many people’s throats. Though everyone has this cartilage, an Adam’s apple is mainly only visible in males rather than females due to more significant growth of the larynx in men, but it can occur in women, too. Its main purpose is to protect the vocal cords that are immediately behind it. It is also called the laryngeal prominence or thyroid cartilage.

The name Adam’s apple may reference the biblical story of Adam and Eve, where a piece of forbidden fruit is thought to have gotten stuck in Adam’s throat. 

There are also surgeries that change the size of the Adam’s apple to alleviate symptoms of gender dysphoria. 

Structure of the Adam's Apple

The Adam’s apple is a visible bulge on the front of the neck made of cartilage. Cartilage is a type of connective tissue present throughout the body. 

The cartilage forming the Adam’s apple is shaped like an open book or a funnel. The spine or the bottom of the funnel faces the front of the neck, creating its characteristic shape. It serves to protect the larynx, aka your vocal cords. 

The Adam’s apple is a secondary sex characteristic, meaning that there are visible differences in the structure between men and women. In many men, the larynx grows pushing the Adam’s apple to protrude out, while in women, this growth is less prominent. The Adam’s apple is important for vocal maturation. For many males, this means that the development of this structure coincides with the deepening of their voice. 

Editor's Note: Health recognizes that not everyone who is female was born with female reproductive organs and that not everyone who is male was born with male reproductive organs. Health also recognizes that people may not identify as any one sex or gender. The information in this article is based on how researchers present their results, and the gender- and sex-based language used most accurately reflects their research design and outcomes.

When Does the Adam’s Apple Develop?

During childhood, the size of the thyroid cartilage and larynx is similar across sexes. During puberty, its shape changes from a cylinder into an open book or funnel shape. Then, the thyroid cartilage begins to move down. 

The structural changes do not occur quickly. The thyroid cartilage changes and matures alongside other hormonal changes during puberty.

Why Don’t Most Women Have an Adam’s Apple?

Scientists don’t know for sure why most women do not develop a prominent Adam’s apple. However, it may influence how others perceive your gender.

The sex hormone testosterone plays an important role in enlarging the larynx and thyroid cartilage. Females with high levels of testosterone and transgender women may have visible Adam’s apples. In some cases, they may opt for a surgery that reduces the size of this structure and changes the tone of their voice.  

Does Size Matter with Adam’s Apples?

People with larger Adam’s apples tend to have deeper voices. This may affect social perception of gender.

One study found that less prominent Adam’s apples were considered less masculine and more feminine. More prominent Adam’s apples were considered more masculine and associated with leadership traits. However the size of the Adam’s apples were not associated with attractiveness. 

Can You Alter the Size of Your Adam's Apple?

There are surgeries available that alter the size of the Adam’s apple. According to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, these surgeries are considered medically necessary.


This surgery removes part of the thyroid cartilage to make it less prominent. The surgery is considered safe and effective. Patients may have a sore through for a few days following the procedure. Adverse effects, like hoarseness or damage to the vocal cords are very rare. In most cases, patients are satisfied with the outcomes of the procedure.

Facial Masculinization Surgery

This procedure involves grafting cartilage to make the Adam’s apple appear more prominent. However this does not lead to deepening of the voice. For many transgender men, testosterone is sufficient to deepen the voice.

For some individuals, it may take six or nine months to recover from the surgery. Some patients will experience a hoarse voice and in rare cases, damage to the vocal nerves and cords. 

A Quick Review

The Adam’s apple is a cartilage structure that protects the vocal cords. During puberty, the structure becomes larger and more prominent in men. It is also possible to change the size of the Adam’s apple through surgery. 

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  6. World Professional Association for Transgender Health (2016). Position statement on medical necessity of treatment, sex reassignment, and insurance coverage in the U.S.A.

  7. Sayegh F, Ludwig DC, Ascha M, et al. Facial masculinization surgery and its role in the treatment of gender dysphoria. Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. 2019;30(5):1339-1346. doi:10.1097/scs.0000000000005101

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