Although predominantly the male hormone, testosterone is found in the ovaries of women as well in small amounts, it might come as a surprise to you that fluctuations in testosterone can bring significant changes to the hormone profile in women.
Some women can have it in high amounts, which is capable of interfering with the normal functioning of their bodily processes. In fact, to some extent, it is also responsible for behavioural changes in them.
In this article, We’ve expanded on the various causes of high testosterone in women and how to recognize the symptoms.
Is Testosterone Present In Women
While testosterone is mainly associated with men, women have it too in very small quantities when compared to men. It is naturally present in women and is responsible for some of the crucial body processes as they work in tandem with estrogen. The difference is, in men, testosterone is produced in the testes whereas in a female body, it is produced in the ovaries.
Now- a certain quantity of testosterone is regarded as being normal in women despite the fact that it is not the primary one. Typically, in women, 15 to 70 ng/dL or 0.5 to 2.4 nmol/L of testosterone falls under the normal level (compared to men which is 300 to 1,000 ng/dL or 10 to 35 nmol/L).
Testosterone levels may vary throughout the day depending on several factors like diet, lifestyle, external environment, sleeping habits, and more. However, once you exceed what is deemed normal because of any underlying health condition, it is considered as high. High levels of testosterone can be indicated by various symptoms which we will discuss in the next section. You can also check your hormone profile by undergoing a blood test to see exactly how much excess testosterone you have.
Symptoms Of High Testosterone In Women
There are multiple physical conditions or changes that can serve as a symptom of high testosterone but the most common ones are acne and thicker body hair. Acne results from excess secretion of sebum as a result of high testosterone levels. The thicker and increased hair growth occurs on the jawline, lower abdomen, back, chest, etc. following the male pattern.
Here’s a list of the various symptoms caused due to high testosterone concentration in women:
|● Acne||● Irregular menstrual cycle|
|● Growth of body and facial hair||● Excessive weight gain|
|● Deepening of voice||● Mood swings|
|● Hair thinning or balding||● Increased muscle mass|
|● Reduced breast size||● Sexual problems like low libido and infertility|
The type of symptoms and their severity varies depending on how high the testosterone level is. For example, severely elevated testosterone concentration can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, obesity and affect sexual health.
What Causes High Levels Of Testosterone In Women
There can be numerous factors behind rising testosterone levels. Sometimes it can be just one of these factors but oftentimes a combination of them lead to hormonal imbalance. Here’s the list:
1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
One of the most common factors behind elevated levels of testosterone is PCOS. A report reveals that nearly 6-12% of women falling under the reproductive age suffer from this hormonal disorder. Some of the major signs of PCOS include acne, irregular periods, enlarged ovaries, increased body hair, dark patches on the skin, and thinning of scalp hair. More serious cases of PCOS can lead to infertility, miscarriage, difficulty in conceiving, raised blood sugar levels in the blood, heart issues, and obesity among others.
Hirsutism is yet another condition that is directly correlated with the excessive presence of testosterone in women. It is a condition in women that causes excess growth of body hair especially on the face, back, and chest. While the amount of hair growth to some extent is genetic, the main reason behind it is abnormal levels of testosterone. Hirsutism, thus, is also one of the symptoms of PCOS.
3. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)
CAH is a hereditary condition connected with the hormones in the body. In this condition, the function of adrenal glands or the production of hormones by these glands are affected which leads to over secretion of testosterone in the body. Some of the symptoms of CAH in more severe cases include infertility, severe acne condition, male characteristics like thicker body hair, atypically developed genitals, early growth of the body, and pubic hair.
4. Diabetes And Insulin Resistance
Diabetes is caused due to high levels of sugar in the blood which in turn triggers higher production of testosterone in the ovaries causing a hormonal imbalance. Women with PCOS are more prone to this occurrence. Insulin resistance is the condition where the body fails to recognize the insulin response leading to raised sugar levels. This then leads to increased testosterone production in the ovaries.
5. Issues With Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is responsible for multiple different functions like hormone production, metabolic functions, and more. Improper functioning of the thyroid can lead to an increase of free testosterone in the blood as it ceases the activity of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).
6. Improper Production Of Growth Hormone
Excessive or insufficient production of growth hormone can lead to conditions like gigantism and dwarfism respectively. In both cases, a hormonal imbalance is created in the body which includes testosterone production as well.
When To See A Doctor
Elevated levels of testosterone in women may have a significant impact on their health and can lead to serious issues if not taken care of at the right time. Not only that, but it can also affect their self-confidence, which then begins to decrease their quality of life. Therefore, if you suspect any small change in your body or notice symptoms that are associated with high levels of testosterone, you should consider seeing a specialist immediately.
The earlier you are able to diagnose and take the necessary steps that can rectify the hormone profile, the better it is. Also, remember that consulting a doctor is recommended in this case rather than self-diagnosing. It can help you to get to the underlying reason behind the symptoms so you get the right treatment. You may expect blood work from your healthcare practitioner to check the hormone levels and other issues like diabetes, thyroid etc. They may also take an ultrasound of your uterus to check for PCOS.
Aside from the medicines prescribed by your doctor, the best way to overcome hormonal issues is to bring changes in your lifestyle – following a healthy diet, healthy sleeping habits, and daily workout.
An increase in testosterone levels in women can bring various unpleasant changes to a woman’s body. This naturally affects their self-esteem, bringing down their confidence levels. Also, if you ignore it and delay undergoing treatment, this can lead to more serious health conditions like cancer, tumor, heart issues, obesity, and infertility all of which can affect your overall lifestyle.
Therefore, it is important that you see a doctor from the moment you notice changes in your body and follow their advice. An active lifestyle and healthy eating habits can accelerate the recovery process and show enhanced results in the treatment.