High Testosterone in Women: Causes, Symptoms and What to Do

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High Testosterone in Women: Causes, Symptoms and What to Do

High testosterone in women can cause a number of symptoms like excessive body hair, mood changes, acne, and problems with your reproductive system. A hormonal imbalance in your body can mean that testosterone levels in women become abnormally high. Knowing how to lower testosterone if you are showing any of the symptoms can improve your quality of life.

There can be many reasons for some women having too much testosterone. For example, high testosterone in women can be a result of dysfunction with your adrenal glands, thyroid issues, high blood sugar, carrying around too much weight, and lack of exercise. Pregnant women also produce small amounts of testosterone during pregnancy.


In this article, I will look at some of the health issues that can raise testosterone levels in women. You will also find out what you can do to decrease testosterone in females naturally.

What is Testosterone

Testosterone is one of the androgen hormones and is connected with how male sexual characteristics develop. Doctors from MedicineNet say that testosterone affects body hair, voice, muscle tone and bone mass. For men, high testosterone levels promote good health and protect against cardiovascular diseases.1

But, you may be asking if testosterone is a male hormone, why would women have high testosterone levels?

Why Do Women Need Testosterone?

The ovaries and adrenal glands produce small quantities of testosterone in women. According to Dr. Jennifer Robinson, who is an expert in the epidemiology of chronic diseases, estrogen together with small levels of testosterone in women are sex hormones that are involved in the growth and repair of reproductive tissues and other body tissues and bone mass. If testosterone levels decrease or rise, this can affect sex drive.2

For example, during the menopause, levels of estrogen decrease as well as testosterone. Dr. John Randolph from the University of Michigan Medical School says that there are links between hormones and sexual behavior. Levels of testosterone are one of the factors that are connected to feelings of desire and sexual behavior.3

What are Normal Levels of Testosterone in Women?

Now that we know it’s normal and necessary for women to have small amounts of testosterone hormone, what are normal female testosterone levels?

Hormones are measured in ng/dL – nanograms per deciliter. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that the normal levels of testosterone in women are as follows:4

  • Age 10-11: <7-44 ng/dL.
  • Age 12-16: <7-75 ng/dL.
  • Age 17-18: <20-75 ng/dL.
  • Age over 19: 8-60 ng/dL.

For males over the age of 19, the normal range of testosterone is 240-950 ng/dL.

High Testosterone in Women

For women, high testosterone levels can mean changes in their appearance or body that can cause distressing symptoms.

For example, if girls who are approaching puberty have levels of testosterone above 44 ng/dL, they may take on a more masculine-like appearance.

Adult women who have high testosterone in excess of 60ng/dL may find that they develop symptoms that are common in men. For example, doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that male-pattern baldness, increase in facial hair, cessation of periods, and even infertility can be some of the upsetting issues that high testosterone in women create.4

Excess sex hormones like testosterone are also referred to as hyperandrogenism.

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Causes of High Levels of Testosterone in Women

What could be some of the potential reasons why you may be showing some of the signs of too much testosterone? Let’s look at what medical research says about abnormally high testosterone levels in women.

High blood sugar

One common reason why a woman would have higher than normal testosterone is having high blood sugar.

Research into the complications of diabetes has found that insulin resistance can result in an excess of androgen hormones in women.

For example, the journal Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews found that high serum testosterone is common in women with type-2 diabetes. The elevated levels of testosterone could also cause other complication that affects fertility like polycystic ovary syndrome. Researchers said that lowering testosterone levels in women affected by hyperandrogenism is necessary to protect against metabolic disorders.5

It’s important to know the warning signs of diabetes to prevent developing type-2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, then some of these foods can help to control type-2 diabetes.

Hypothyroidism

Dysfunction of your thyroid gland could be a reason why you are showing signs of too much testosterone like balding, excess body hairs, or acne.

Your thyroid also plays a role in controlling hormones in your body. An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, has been linked to symptoms of high testosterone.

Dr. Bernard Kernath in the journal Review of Clinical Signs says that hypothyroidism can disrupt the sex hormone-binding globulin and increase free testosterone levels in women.6

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, please read my article about natural remedies to boost thyroid function naturally.

Adrenal gland dysfunction

Your adrenal glands produce small amounts of the androgen hormone testosterone, and any dysfunction with them could create imbalances of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.

Problems with your adrenal glands or tumors in them can increase the level of androgens that are secreted. The journal Dermato Endocrinology says that high male sex hormones in women can be the result of congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which is a group of genetic disorders that affect the adrenal glands. Some of the symptoms of the increase in androgens in women include a reduced ability to conceive, increase in facial and pubic hair, and acne.7 

Along with showing signs of high testosterone, adrenal gland dysfunction can raise your cortisol levels and cause high blood pressure, digestive problems, or trouble sleeping.

Being overweight

Being overweight or obese could be a reason why you have high testosterone along with high blood sugar levels.

Obesity can affect hormone production in both men and women and make it difficult to lose weight. According to research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, women who are overweight often show symptoms of elevated testosterone. Hyperandrogenism can cause metabolic syndrome that causes excess fat around the waist, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.8

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If you need to kick start a diet plan, you can try these 12 simple tweaks for weight loss. Even just walking can help to shed extra pounds and can have a positive impact on your health in general.

Lack of exercise

Having a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough exercise could cause testosterone levels to rise above normal for women.

The reason that a lack of exercise affects testosterone levels is the impact exercise has on insulin sensitivity. As already noted, blood sugar levels can affect levels of female testosterone. Information published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine reported that exercise is one way to reduce blood sugar levels.9

Also, regular exercise can have a beneficial role to increase libido and build muscle mass. For example, a study from 2001 showed that upper body fat can cause free testosterone to increase and reduce levels of sex-hormone binding globulin. It was discovered that regular exercising helped to regulate testosterone concentrations.10

You can try some of these exercises to get a flatter tummy, these plank exercises, or this 10 minute workout to transform your body. You can find many other exercises to target other areas of your body that you can easily do at home, such as these exercises for butt and legs, inner thighs, jiggly arms and chest exercises.

Pregnancy

It’s natural that your body produces higher than usual testosterone levels during pregnancy.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that testosterone continues to rise during pregnancy. However, there is a significant rise in testosterone on the 28th week. Doctors think this is something to do with the growing fetus.11

Symptoms of High Testosterone in Women

How can you tell if you possibly have higher than normal testosterone levels? Let’s look at some of the symptoms that may indicate that you need to lower androgens in your body.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Multiple cysts on your ovaries are referred to as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and is a common symptom of having too much testosterone.

According to the journal Clinical Medicine & Research, too much testosterone in women is often connected to the ovaries. Ovarian cysts can affect hormone secretion and cause too much testosterone hormone to be produced. Doctors report that high levels of testosterone in women with polycystic ovary syndrome is <150 ng/dL. This results in PCOS symptoms like irregular menstruation, infertility, hirsutism (increase in body hair), and acne.12

Some of the ways to naturally lower testosterone mentioned at the end of this article are useful for treating PCOS naturally.

Weight gain

Weight gain can both be a cause and a symptom why some women have higher testosterone than other women.

Researchers in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that weight gain usually accompanies polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). When testing hormone levels of women suffering from PCOS, doctors found elevated total and free testosterone levels. This results in an accumulation of fat tissue around the belly.13

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Acne

Many women with excess testosterone frequently suffer from frequent outbreaks of acne and facial pimples.

Although there are many reasons why teenagers and adults get acne, hormonal imbalances are often to blame. In fact, the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported that acne is a common sign of hyperandrogenism. In fact, in some women, acne may be the only symptom of high testosterone.14

There are many natural ways to get rid of the visible signs of acne. For example, tea tree oil contains antimicrobial properties that can help to clear your skin of acne-causing bacteria, and is one of the best essential oils to treat acne. You can also try these effective homemade acne face masks.

Of course, if high testosterone is to blame for your acne, you need to balance your hormones to treat the underlying cause.

Hair loss from scalp

Male-pattern baldness in women or thinning hair is one of the most distressing symptoms of hyperandrogenism and high testosterone levels.

The International Journal of Endocrinology Metabolism reported on the connection of hyperandrogenism and female hair loss. It was found that hair loss because of hormonal imbalances often accompanies other symptoms like PCOS, acne, and irregular menstruation. Treatment to lower testosterone is one of the ways to treat female hair loss.15

Interestingly, because testosterone also stimulates hair growth, some ways of reversing hair loss include implanting testosterone under the skin of the scalp. One study reported that just over 60% of women, who were androgen-deficient and treated with testosterone, increased their hair growth.16

Excessive body hair

If you have hair growing in places where men’s hair usually grows, like on the face, chest, or back, it could be a sign that you need to decrease testosterone levels. This is a condition called hirsutism.

According to researchers from the University of Maryland, high testosterone levels are to blame for around half of cases of hirsutism. Along with unwanted hair on your breasts, face, and upper lip, you might have other symptoms like an irregular menstrual cycle, enlarged clitoris, or larger shoulder muscles.17

Mood changes

Hormone levels greatly affect our mood, and having too much testosterone and too little progesterone or estrogen can cause mood swings.

A survey taken among women showing signs of hyperandrogenism found that many reported feelings of frustration, depression, excess anxiety, and aggression. Interestingly, women whose testosterone levels were only slightly elevated reported the most severe mood symptoms. Those women who had normal or extremely high testosterone had less severe symptoms.18

While taking steps to lower testosterone, you might want to take some steps to reduce your stress and anxiety such as these essential oils that are natural mood enhancers.

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Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Hormonal imbalances are a major factor causing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in many women. Researchers have found that many women who show signs of PMS have higher testosterone during the luteal phase, which occurs after ovulation and before the start of your period. They concluded that higher than normal androgen levels cause premenstrual irritability and anxiety disorders.6

High Testosterone & Pregnancy

A complication of high testosterone level is that it can affect your chances of becoming pregnant. The main reason for this is that high levels of androgens can cause polycystic ovary syndrome.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic report that some of the signs and symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome are irregular periods, longer periods, excess facial hair, and ovarian cysts. However, high testosterone can cause complications with pregnancy. For example, you could become infertile, have a miscarriage, or give birth prematurely.19

How Women Can Lower Testosterone Levels Naturally

Let’s look at some of the natural remedies that can help to reduce excess testosterone in women.

Vitex agnus-castus

Vitex agnus-castus (also called chaste tree or chasteberry) can help to treat menstrual irregularities and balance your hormones naturally.

The International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology reported that studies into vitex agnus castus have shown that it can help reverse hormonal imbalances. Scientists found that agnus castus helps to balance follicle stimulating hormone and testosterone. This was found beneficial in treating the symptoms and causes of polycystic ovary syndrome.20

You can also use vitex agnus castus if you need to increase progesterone levels.

Chinese licorice

Another natural remedy for reducing testosterone and treating hirsutism or PCOS is Chinese licorice.

The journal Steroids reported that studies into the effect of licorice found it effective in treating hyperandrogenism symptoms. Women were given 3.5 g licorice daily for 2 menstrual cycles. After the second month, serum testosterone levels were significantly reduced.21

Spearmint tea

Spearmint tea is another home remedy that can help to naturally decrease elevated testosterone levels and treat its symptoms.

Scientists discovered that herbal spearmint tea has anti-androgen effects. In the study, women consumed 2 cups of spearmint tea a day for a month. In almost all of the patients, free testosterone levels were significantly reduced. It was suggested that spearmint tea is a possible natural treatment for hirsutism in polycystic ovary syndrome.22

Other Ways to Lower Testosterone in Females

There are more conventional ways to lower testosterone in females that many doctors recommend.

Contraceptive pill. One of the most common ways of regulating the menstrual cycle and female sex hormones is by the oral contraceptive pill. PubMed Health reports that “combined oral contraception” (birth control pill) decreases total testosterone and free testosterone.23

Glucocorticosteroids. Doctors sometimes prescribe glucocorticosteroids to treat hirsutism in women. The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that glucocorticoid therapy lowers testosterone in women with chronic hirsutism.24

Metformin. This is a drug to control the symptoms of type 2 diabetes that can also help to decrease testosterone. The International Journal of Health Sciences reported that when using metformin to treat PCOS, there is a marked decline in testosterone. Even though it has some side effects, it can treat the symptoms associated with PCOS like acne, excess hair growth, and excess weight.25

When to See a Doctor

A simple blood test can check for high levels of testosterone in women. If you have any of the symptoms associated with high testosterone like excess facial hair, menstrual irregularities, difficulty losing weight, or can’t conceive, you should visit your doctor.

Read my related articles:

Medical Sources

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  2. WebMD. Normal testosterone and estrogen levels in women.
  3. MedicineNet. Testosterone plays minor role in older women’s sex lives.
  4. MayoClinic. Testosterone, total, bioavailable, and free, serum.
  5. Diabetes Metab Res Rev.2008 Oct;24(7):520-32.
  6. Turner-White. Signs of hyperandrogenism in women.
  7. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Mar-Apr; 1(2): 87–91.
  8. Fertil Steril.2006 May;85(5):1319-40.
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  19. MayoClinic. Polycystic ovary syndrome.
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