Typically, the amount of testosterone made in a woman’s body is about a tenth of the amount in a man’s body. However, due to one of many reasons, a significant percentage of women often end up with high levels of testosterone, and the accompanying ill effects. Primarily, four reasons are attributed to the higher levels, and an understanding of this helps to deal with the condition more effectively. Following subsections offer a detailed look at important information about high testosterone in a woman. This will help women handle the condition better, and in a more informed manner.

What is testosterone level in female?

As outlined above, the testosterone level in females is low, and is typically between 15 and 70 ng/dL. The different female sex hormones are estradiol, estrone, progesterone and testosterone, in addition to different androgens. The role of testosterone and androgens in women is spread across different functions and requirements of the body. For instance, impact of the right levels of testosterone and androgens is experienced in bone health, and the health of breasts. The hormones also have a vital role in fertility, menstrual health, and libido, apart from vaginal health of women.

What is the reason for high testosterone in females?

The four main reasons linked to high testosterone levels in females includes, PCOS, Adrenal Diseases, Diabetes and disorders such as thyroid issues, dwarfism, Cushing’s syndrome etc. PCOS, acronym for polycystic ovarian syndrome is regarded as one of the main reasons for higher levels of testosterone among females. Symptoms that are indicative of this condition include excessive growth of hair on the face, predisposition to acne, and infertility.

The next condition, Adrenal disease is attributed to imbalance of testosterone levels due to the impact of the adrenal glands. This condition is medically known as late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia. On experiencing symptoms of high testosterone levels, the best way to identify the condition is to undergo a simple test to check the hormone levels. The third main reason, diabetes, is known to have an impact primarily because of the link between diabetes and obesity. This could result in fluctuation of testosterone levels. The symptoms are not different, and diabetics can easily link the condition to the high testosterone levels, if aware of the association.

The fourth reason is essentially a classification comprising various disorders that are known to have an impact on testosterone levels. For instance, women diagnosed with adrenal neoplasm disorders, are likely to end up with high testosterone levels. Similarly, other conditions such as acromegaly, or Cushing’s syndrome are also likely to affect the levels of the hormone. Size related conditions, such as dwarfism and gigantism are also known to have an impact on the levels of the hormone. Other conditions identified as having an impact include Ovarian tumor and thyroid disorders. The right diagnosis followed by symptomatic treatment can help manage the condition.

The link between Congenital adrenal hyperplasia and testosterone levels

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia refers to disorders that have an impact on the adrenal glands, that have a role in secretion of cortisol and aldosterone hormones. These hormones have functional responsibilities in regulating metabolism and blood pressure levels.  In addition to the secretion of the above two hormones, the adrenal glands also produce testosterone. Individuals afflicted with Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, end up with high levels of testosterone due to the lack of certain enzymes. As a result of this, women end up with the condition that is classified as either mild or classic.

Discernible symptoms of the condition include an unusually deep voice, and severe outbreak of acne. Young girls with the condition are known to have earlier growth of pubic hair, while women may have excessive hair on the face and the body. The clitoris is also likely to be bigger in size, while young girls may end up with shorter stature as an adult, despite faster growth in early stages. The condition does not have a cure; and the purpose of treatment is to manage the condition and help individuals cope with the symptoms effectively.

Indications of hirsutism

Women are known to be hirsute, when certain hormonal conditions trigger excessive growth of hair on the face and body.  In addition to the excessive growth, the hair also has properties that are similar to males, both in terms of pattern and appearance of hair which is relatively coarse in texture, apart from the color. Hair grows on the back, the chest, and the face apart from the arms and legs that are normal growth. Women with the condition may also have to put up with other symptoms, such as outbreak of acne, loss of hair, and large clitoris. Changes in voice are also discernible, with hirsute women known to have a deep voice, apart from the increase in muscle mass. The size of the breasts may be disproportionately smaller due to the condition.

Symptoms that indicate PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome)

PCOS is known to affect around 10% of women of reproductive age in the US. While the condition is also known to affect young children who are yet to enter teenage, most women are not aware or diagnosed till the age of mid-twenties. Women with PCOS have indicative symptoms such as excessive body hair, while some are known to end up with irregular menstrual cycles. One of the outcomes of PCOS is the enlargement of ovaries, which ultimately results in the non-release of eggs. Complications that are linked to the condition include heart ailments and possible depressive state of mind, apart from infertility.  Women with PCOS are typically known to be obese, with some having to put up with sleep apnea. The percentage of women having a miscarriage is relatively high among those with PCOS. The likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes also cannot be ruled out, as the condition is known to be a contributing factor.

What are the symptoms of high testosterone in females?

Various symptoms are indicative of the spike in levels and these tell-tale symptoms can help identify and manage the condition better. The impact is on appearance of women, apart from overall health, or behavior. For instance, women are likely to exhibit abnormal changes in mood, and may end up with a deep voice. Women with high levels of the hormone are likely to have excessive hair growth on the face and the body, unlike women with less or normal hormone levels. Other visible effects include thinning hair and frequent outbreak of acne. The increased levels could also make the women have relatively more muscle mass than others, and there is a possibility of an increase in size of the clitoris. An abnormal lack of interest in sex, and irregular periods are also other effects of the spike in levels, apart from smaller size breasts. When the levels of testosterone are very high, women may end up obese and would be exposed to the risk of infertility.

Diagnostics and treatment for high levels of the hormone

Diagnosis of the condition is often after the onset of symptoms; while a relatively lesser number of women are screened for the condition through different methods. For instance, high testosterone levels are determined through a physical examination, wherein the doctor looks for tell tale symptoms such as acne, excessive growth of hair on the face and the body. Complaints from the patient regarding sex life and the loss of libido are also used to conclude or make preliminary findings. Women are likely to experience changes in menstrual cycle and may also experience sudden change in mood.

A visual examination of the pelvic region helps determine PCOS, as there is the likelihood of abnormal features. Other diagnostics include blood tests to check for hormone levels; it is important to note here that the ideal time to draw blood samples for the test is in the morning, as testosterone levels are known to be high in the mornings. Blood tests may also involve checking of blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Other diagnostics include ultrasound scan of the uterus and the ovaries to look for indicative symptoms.

How is high testosterone treated?

Typically, treatment regimen for high testosterone in a woman is targeted at treating the underlying cause and could differ according to the reason. Treatment is also holistic in nature, wherein women are expected to make changes to lifestyles. Trichologists and dermatologists are also often involved in the treatment, to help control and bring down excessive hair growth. Medications that are generally recommended for the condition include Eflornithine cream, that is intended to help reduce the growth of hair on the face.  Other medications include the use of glucocorticosteroids, to manage the inflammation that occurs with the condition.

As outlined above, treatment is targeted at the underlying condition, and this includes regulation of blood glucose levels. Metformin helps in regulating type 2 diabetes, and is often part of treatment for patients diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. As the increased levels of the hormone has an impact on fertility, women are also recommended progestin hormones to have a positive impact on fertility, apart from helping menstruation cycles. The use of oral contraceptives is also an option, and this is intended to block excessive testosterone levels in the body. Treatments often involve a combination of different medications; for instance, women with hirsutism are generally recommended a combination of oral contraceptives, metformin and antiandrogens.

As the condition results in increased hair growth, various types of treatments are in place to control hair growth. The use of diuretics, such as Spironolactone, is recommended to control excessive hair growth. Similarly, dermatologists also recommend electrolysis and laser therapy to deliver results in appearance. These options are only for the purpose of managing appearance, and will not have any positive impact on the levels of the hormones.  Lifestyle changes include weight reduction and maintenance of weight at recommended levels. This is known to have an impact on fertility, apart from restoring menstrual cycles and managing PCOS related symptoms.  Dietary modifications are recommended for women with PCOS; wherein a well-rounded diet that supplies balanced nutrition is to be followed. This is carefully planned to reduce sugar intake and saturated fat.

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