High Testosterone in Women: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

How do high testosterone levels affect women? Read on to find out.

Hormones play a vital role in controlling the body’s metabolism and, as a result, mood changes. Each hormone affects the mood differently. One such hormone, testosterone, however, has a different nature while coping with sex drive.

Testosterone is a major male sex hormone produced in women’s ovaries as an androgen in small amounts. This hormone alone functions for the maintenance of bone mass, generating new blood cells, and behaviors. Growth, repair, and maintenance of women’s reproductive tissues occurs with a combination of testosterone and estrogen..

There might be few effects, if not adverse, when there is an imbalance of testosterone in the female body. Sex drive can have an impact as the testosterone levels increase. Health may also see some unusual effects. However, women’s health associated with sex drive can improve with medicines, keeping testosterone apart from it’s balanced state.

Testosterone Levels In Females At Normal Conditions

As mentioned above, testosterone levels are quite less in women as compared to men. To be exact, 15–70 nano-grams per deciliter (ng/dL) is the normal level of testosterone in women; and 280–1,100 ng/dL is the average level in men.

Also, it is clear that the hormone levels in the body changes on a day-to-day basis irrespective of gender. Moreover, it’s not even the same throughout the day.

Symptoms Of High Testosterone in Women

Too much testosterone can cause symptoms that affect women’s physical appearance, including:

  • excess body hair, specifically facial hair
  • thinning hair
  • balding
  • acne
  • irregular periods
  • enlarged clitoris
  • mood swings
  • feeling for excess sex drive
  • decreased breast size
  • deepening of the voice
  • increased muscle mass

Causes Of High Testosterone in Women

Various diseases or disorders can cause hormonal changes in women. High testosterone levels is one such issue; and, here are some common causes:

Hirsutism

Unwanted hair growth is the significant look through which is due to Hirsutism. Hair growth specifically on the face, chest, and back are the possibilities due to this hormonal condition. Disturbances in androgen hormones are the primary cause of body hair growth, which may sometimes carry to genetics.

High testosterone in women may also cause symptoms, including:

  • bulky muscles
  • balding
  • reduced breast size
  • enlarged clitoris
  • acne
  • deepening of voice

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is another hormonal disorder by an excess of androgen hormones in women. PCOS may result in unwanted body hair growth, which may be a primary concern of ones with this symptom.

PCOS include other common complications such as:

  • severe acne
  • menstrual irregularity or infertility
  • obesity
  • enlarged ovaries
  • type 2 diabetes
  • endometrial cancer

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Adrenal glands can have a direct effect on people suffering from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) disorder. Thus, there is an imbalance in the production of the body’s hormones. Most of the women overproduce androgen, in case CAH attacks the body.

Symptoms with this condition in women include:

  • acne
  • enlarged clitoris
  • irregular periods
  • excess body or facial hair
  • rapid growth during childhood
  • voice deepening

Issues With Thyroid

The thyroid gland has a significant part in metabolism and involves a wide range of body functions. Other major areas  where thyroid marks its roles are the production and concentration of hormones.

Research states the indirect link between an underactive thyroid condition, i.e., hypothyroidism and testosterone levels. Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG), which balances sex hormones, becomes less in count in women’s blood that is highly likely to witness hypothyroidism. As SHBG count goes too low, that hence results in high testosterone levels due to an imbalance in the body.

Resistance Of Insulin

The body functions in a way that blood sugar levels go high when the body fails to recognize the insulin hormone. So the lack of resistance results in the excess production of testosterone in women’s ovaries with the unused insulin that is meant for the body’s natural activities.

Diagnosis Of High Testosterone

There are three standard methods that a doctor follows to diagnose high testosterone in women. Below are the ways:

Physical Examination

The doctor mainly questions about the below symptoms during a physical examination:

  • acne and it’s severity
  • facial hair growth
  • excess body hair
  • menstrual cycle abnormalities
  • libido
  • mood changes

The doctor recommends for manual examination of the pelvic region in case of PCOS suspicion to find if there are any abnormalities.

Blood Test

One of the best possible methods to test high testosterone levels is a blood test, and so the doctor takes a blood sample. The best time for the blood to be drawn from the body is during the morning, as the testosterone levels are high then.

The concerned person who consults the doctor might even need to spend time for a quick check with glucose and cholesterol levels, if necessary.

Ultrasound

This test is the parameter to check for PCOS and carried out through the ovaries and uterus.

Treatment Options

Below are the medications that treat high testosterone levels in women:

  • glucocorticosteroids reduce inflammation in the body and is a type of steroid hormone
  • eflornithine minimizes the growth of new facial hair as this cream is directly applicable to the skin
  • progestin a hormone that may regulate periods and improve fertility
  • metformin which is a treatment for type 2 diabetes
  • maintenance of normal water and salt levels to reduce excessive hair growth in females with the help of diuretic, spironolactone

Excess testosterone levels can also be controlled using oral contraceptives. The best types of oral birth control pills are the ones that contain low doses of gestodene, norgestimate, and desogestrel to treat high testosterone and hirsutism.

However, oral contraceptives may not be suitable for women who are trying to get pregnant, and they can also cause adverse side effects.

Conclusion

High testosterone is a medical condition that lasts for a short span in women and treated for a range of symptoms such as excess facial hair, infertility, and more.

So, women with symptoms or certain high testosterone levels need a quick walk to the doctor to reduce the count after a proper assessment and treatment.