High Testosterone in Women: Everything You Need to Know
Testosterone is a hormone commonly associated with men. It’s often called “the testicle hormone” because it is produced mainly in the male testes. Although testosterone is more prevalent in men, it’s also found in women and is important for many aspects of health, including libido and bone health.
However, high levels of testosterone in women can lead to physical and hormonal changes that can affect fertility, mood, and menstrual cycle. Understanding these effects can be important for women with high (or suspected high) testosterone levels.
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone found in both sexes, although men produce much more of it than women do. It is responsible for the development of male characteristics and also helps maintain libido, energy level, and bones. Low levels of testosterone in men can lead to a decrease in sperm production and a decrease in libido.
In women, testosterone is found in lower levels, but it still plays an important role in their overall health. Testosterone helps maintain energy, libido, and reproductive cycles.
What Causes High Testosterone in Women?
High testosterone in women can be caused by various factors, including:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): One of the most common causes of high testosterone in women is PCOS, a hormonal disorder characterized by an imbalance of hormones and an excess of androgenic hormones like testosterone.
- Chronic medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome and kidney, liver, and adrenal disorders, can lead to an increase in testosterone production.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as anabolic steroids and testosterone supplements, can increase testosterone levels.
- Tumors: Rarely, tumors in the ovaries or adrenal glands can cause high testosterone in women.
Signs and Symptoms of High Testosterone in Women
High testosterone levels in women can lead to a variety of physical and hormonal changes, including:
- Hirsutism: Hirsutism is a condition characterized by excessive hair growth on the face, chest, and back.
- Acne: Acne is a common symptom of high testosterone in women.
- Excessive body hair: High levels of testosterone can lead to an increase in body hair, including increased facial and body hair.
- Deep voice: Voice changes due to testosterone can lead to a deeper, more masculine voice.
- Infertility: High testosterone levels can interfere with ovulation and thus lead to fertility issues.
- Weight gain: Weight gain due to high testosterone levels is common among women with PCOS.
Diagnosis and Treatment of High Testosterone in Women
If you think you may have high testosterone in women, your doctor can order a blood test to measure testosterone levels. If your testosterone levels are high, your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, medication, and hormone therapy.
High Testosterone in Women: The Bottom Line
High testosterone in women can lead to a range of physical and hormonal changes that may cause fertility, mood, and other disturbances. If you suspect you may have high testosterone, talk to your doctor to get tested and explore treatment options. With the right care and lifestyle modifications, you can keep your testosterone levels in check and stay healthy.