Too much testosterone in women can be incredibly detrimental—in fact, it can often be worse than too little testosterone.
One common misconception we run into is that hormone replacement therapy is only about treating low hormones, especially low testosterone.
The truth is more nuanced (and it’s often the case that the wrong tests were done and you actually have low testosterone).
The goal of hormone therapy is to achieve balance—a balance between all the major hormones in your body.
We’re concerned with any hormone being outside of normal, whether it be too high or too low. Low testosterone is certainly a problem, but too much testosterone is just as concerning.
We talk quite a bit about low testosterone here at TCT (contrary to popular belief, women suffer from this too), but what about high testosterone? What are the causes? And how does it affect women?
Let’s start with the symptoms.
The Symptoms of Too Much Testosterone In Women
Testosterone controls (or is involved in) a surprisingly high number of bodily processes and functions. Although testosterone is often thought of as the “male” hormone, testosterone is actually present in women in small amounts.
Those small amounts need to stay within a certain range in a healthy woman, and this range is variable from person to person. However, if you have significantly higher testosterone levels than normal, you can start to experience a variety of symptoms.
Because of testosterone’s role in sex determination for males, many of the symptoms of too much testosterone in women involve something called virilization—the development of male physical characteristics. Here is just a short list of some of the symptoms:
- Male pattern hair loss
- Excessive body hair growth
- Enlarged clitoris
- Lowered voice
- Breast atrophy
- Increased libido
- Excessive muscle mass gain
- Cessation of menstruation
As you might imagine, symptoms like this can have a powerful negative effect on your life. If you’re experiencing the symptoms above and think you might be producing too much testosterone, you might need to get your hormone levels tested. That being said, management of such a condition often needs to be handled by specialists.
Now that you have a better idea of what too much testosterone in women looks like, let’s talk about what causes high testosterone.
The Causes of High Testosterone In Women
We’ve written on the causes of too much testosterone in women before, but here’s a crash course on the subject.
Basically, diseases and disorders that affect your endocrine system are going to affect your hormone levels. Here are just a few of the more common causes:
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Adrenal neoplasm disorders
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Adrenal or ovarian tumors
- Conn’s syndrome
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Thyroid disorders
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you may also want to talk to your medical care provider about possible causes. While some causes may seem obvious to the sufferer, others might not be readily apparent.
And, like I mentioned above, you might actually have low testosterone — find out how such a strange mistake could be made.
Get Your Hormone Levels Back to Normal
While many of the disorders and diseases listed above aren’t going to be cured by hormone therapy alone, getting your testosterone levels and other hormones into balance could help alleviate your symptoms.