Are you noticing an increase in acne, unwanted body hair, particularly on the face, and thinning or loss of hair? If your answer is yes, these are typically seen in women with elevated high testosterone levels. You might be suffering from testosterone and possibly other hormonal imbalances. But do you know what triggers high testosterone levels in women? Let’s take a closer look!
Testosterone in the female body
Testosterone, an androgen hormone, is essential for both males and females. In females, most high testosterone becomes another hormone called estradiol. This hormone is also an androgen, like estrogen and progesterone. It helps maintain healthy levels of hormones in women which plays a crucial role in overall wellbeing.
Testosterone is of utmost importance when it comes to women’s health. It helps preserve and maintain muscle mass, regulate moods, improve sex drive and fertility. There can be a variety of reasons for increased testosterone levels in female bodies, and they usually come with certain symptoms.
What are the normal testosterone levels in women?
Generally, adult males have testosterone levels ranging from 265 to 923 nanograms per deciliter in their blood, which is noticeably higher than that of adult females. However, these levels vary significantly from person to person and even fluctuate throughout an individual’s life.
It’s important for women aged 19 and above to have a normal level of testosterone which is between 15-70 ng/dL. Individual levels and fluctuations can also be observed over time. Unusual amounts of testosterone can potentially cause health issues, so it’s essential to maintain an appropriate level.
How do testosterone levels change as women get older?
When women hit their 20s, their testosterone levels reach its peak and then start to wane. When a woman goes through the process of menopause, the level of testosterone in her body is cut in half compared to its peak. This is caused by the reduction of high testosterone production by her adrenal glands.
After menopause, the ovaries will still secrete testosterone but won’t be making estrogen and progesterone anymore. Therefore, most of the age-related changes in women are a result of decreased amounts of estrogen and progesterone.
When do women become prone to having higher testosterone levels?
Testosterone levels may increase or decrease due to the hormonal changes caused by menopause. While low levels of testosterone are commonly seen in menopausal women, high levels can also cause several issues.
Women nearing menopause or in their postmenopausal years may experience an erratic increase in their testosterone levels. This can result in various symptoms and higher than normal testosterone concentrations. Fortunately, there are treatments available to keep the hormonal balance in check and maintain healthy levels of testosterone.
What causes high testosterone in women?
Hormonal changes in women can be triggered by various medical conditions or hormonal imbalances. High testosterone levels specifically, are commonly caused by diseases such as PCOS, certain tumors, hyperprolactinemia and Cushing’s Syndrome.
Below are the most common causes of testosterone’s rising levels in women:
Higher BMI / overweight / obesity
Being overweight can lead to an imbalance in the hormones of your body, which may result in high testosterone levels. Taking steps to control your weight can be beneficial in regulating these hormones and lowering the testosterone levels.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an imbalance in androgen or reproductive hormones in women. One of the main symptoms of PCOS is an elevated testosterone level.
Symptoms of the disorder include prolonged or irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal hair growth, and enlarged ovaries that may not work properly. If these signs are present, seek medical advice because PCOS can have serious implications on health.
A recent study suggests that hypothyroidism is a sign of high testosterone in women. It also affects the balance of sex hormones in a person’s blood by lowering the production of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). A decrease in SHBG levels can result in increased high testosterone levels, which may cause irregularities in menstrual cycles.
When the body begins having insulin resistance, it often leads to diabetes because it elevates blood sugar. This in turn results in insulin staying unused in the bloodstream which promotes an increase of testosterone production by the ovaries.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a medical condition that affects the adrenal glands and their hormones. An overproduction of androgen can be seen in some cases. Women affected by this disorder show signs like:
- masculine characteristics
- early appearance of pubic hair
- severe acne
- Dry skin
What happens when testosterone levels increase or decrease?
Too much testosterone production in the body may cause menstrual irregularities. There will most likely be an increase in body hair growth. Frontal balding is a potential consequence of elevated high testosterone levels in women.
Other possible effects include acne, enlargement of the clitoris, uncomfortable sex, increased muscle mass, and a deepening of the voice. This has a psychological effect in most women since these are symptoms of aging for men.
PCOS and high testosterone levels
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) often experience higher levels of testosterone, which is associated with infertility. This endocrine disorder is relatively widespread, affecting 6-15% of reproductive-age women globally. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that can disrupt fertility in women of reproductive age. The condition may make it challenging for them to conceive.
According to the Rotterdam Criteria, diagnosis of PCOS requires one to have at least two of the following conditions present:
- Signs of heightened androgens (often known as “male” hormones, although both males and females have them)
- Irregular and excessively painful periods
- Ovarian follicles are found in high numbers in some cases. These can misleadingly be referred to as cysts, but this isn’t actually accurate.
- An excessive accumulation of fat around the abdomen, known as abdominal obesity, is a cause for concern.
- Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition which causes darkening in several areas of the body, notably the back of the neck and in the armpits.
- Even for young women in their 20s, becoming pregnant can be a challenge due to various medical issues.
How can I determine if my testosterone levels are too high or too low?
After conducting a physical examination, your doctor will be able to assess your health status and symptoms, allowing them to decide if further laboratory tests should be administered to examine hormone levels. To understand any underlying issues, it’s important to take tests to determine if you have PCOS too. Results from the tests can indicate abnormal hormone levels, after which your doctor can create a treatment plan tailored to each individual’s needs.
Foods That Reduce Testosterone Levels:
Soy-based foods are a great source of phytoestrogens, which possess the same properties as estrogen. When ingested, these phytoestrogens function like human estrogen and affect hormone levels in the body.
It’s a good idea for people looking to increase their testosterone production to avoid consuming dairy products, as they may contain synthetic or natural hormones that may disrupt the body’s natural production of high testosterone. Additionally, cows that are fed soy-based feed can have increased estrogen levels in their milk as a result.
A study conducted at the Eastbourne District General Hospital in Sussex, UK recently revealed that drinking spearmint tea can be beneficial for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It was found to decrease their androgen levels which would consequently reduce their symptoms. A study on 42 women with PCOS showed that daily intake of two cups of spearmint tea for a month resulted in a significant drop in free and total testosterone levels.
Flaxseed contains numerous essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and dietary fiber. Moreover, it’s rich in lignans which are helpful in binding testosterone and removing it from the body. A recent study of 25 male participants suffering from prostate cancer indicated that supplementing with flaxseed and cutting down on fat intake could effectively reduce the levels of testosterone present in their bodies.
A medical research conducted on 69 males highlighted that consuming polyunsaturated fats frequently was associated with significantly lower testosterone levels. A research was conducted among twelve male participants to study the impact of diet on testosterone levels. The findings of the study revealed that intake of polyunsaturated fat leads to a decrease in testosterone levels.
Supplements to lower testosterone levels naturally in women:
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for both men and women’s overall health and wellbeing. They can help lower testosterone levels, regularize menstrual cycles, increase SHBG levels, reduce inflammation in the body, aid in insulin uptake and regulate leptin levels.
DIM, found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, are a good source of nutrients that help maintain normal testosterone levels. Eating cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts 3-4 times per week can provide you with a healthy amount of DIM.
NAC has several beneficial effects on hormonal health, most notably reducing hirsutism, decreasing free testosterone levels, and regulating the menstrual cycle. Moreover, some studies claim that it may even contribute to improved fertility.A daily intake of at least 600 mg is recommended by doctors.
Adrenal Support is an effective supplement for those with PCOS and high testosterone symptoms as it includes licorice which has been known to improve the hormones. Further, optimizing adrenal health can help reduce the production of androgens which are released by the adrenal glands and in turn can aid in lowering testosterone levels.
Zinc is known to reduce the activity of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase which converts testosterone into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Decreasing DHT levels with zinc can help manage symptoms like excessive hair growth, acne, and mood swings that may be caused by higher testosterone. Taking 20-30 mcg of zinc daily is recommended.
The herb known as Saw Palmetto is essential in maintaining healthy testosterone levels. This herb helps to block the transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone which can cause baldness on the head but can lead to facial and chest hair growth.
Increased physical activities
Move your body! Starting an exercise or weight loss program is one of the most effective changes, especially for those who are stuck in their office desks. Maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercising can make long-term changes to your hormonal imbalance symptoms. Achieving this goal and sustaining it should be beneficial in the management of these problems.
Many healthcare providers recommend losing 5-10% of your body weight to reduce testosterone levels, significantly improve PCOS symptoms, and stop the further development of infertility complications. Not only that, your sleep quality will improve. This often leads to reduction of stress.
Medication to Lower Testosterone in Females
There might be times when you’ve done most of the recommended natural ways to decrease testosterone but it’s still necessary to include certain drugs. Though we have listed the most popular drugs to treat high testosterone for women, always consult your physician.
This particular medicine is especially effective for people with PCOS and type 2 diabetes. It lowers blood sugar levels and helps the body regulate insulin, having a positive effect on high testosterone levels in women. Furthermore, it is frequently used for the treatment of PCOS itself.
Glucocorticoids are a type of steroid hormone that helps in reducing inflammation within the body and are prescribed for cases such as congenital adrenal hyperplasia. These hormones naturally exist to enable your cells to utilize sugar and fat. In cases of unusually high testosterone production, additional glucocorticoid hormones may be required to balance out the effects.
Spironolactone is a type of diuretic that helps balance the water and salt levels in the body. Moreover, it is often used to reduce excessive female hair growth by slowing down the production of androgens like testosterone. For more information on this, check out this article here.
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends using birth control pills with low dosages of norgestimate, gestodene, and desogestrel to reduce testosterone levels. This method is highly effective in achieving the desired result. It is important to remember that this type of treatment may lead to some side effects like a decrease in libido and mood. It is best to talk about this with your doctor or healthcare provider before continuing.
Keeping hormonal levels within the normal range is important for ensuring good health. If your hormones are too high or too low, it can lead to various health complications. Typically, when someone is experiencing symptoms, it’s usually related to other medical illnesses. Treating the underlying disorder can help alleviate these symptoms and enhance the person’s quality of life. This applies to low testosterone levels too; it can be treated to restore them back to a normal range.
Testosterone is an important hormone for women too – it can have a huge impact on their health. To ensure that your body is functioning optimally, getting tested for testosterone levels is highly recommended. If you believe you are showing signs of high testosterone, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor immediately. They can help to identify the exact cause and recommend a suitable course of treatment for your situation.