The last thing I want to do is to appear foolish at the very beginning of this article, but I believe honesty is best. Until a few months ago I had no idea there was testosterone in the female body.
I know all about estrogen, but I always thought testosterone was strictly a male hormone. I was completely wrong. My story begins when I started experiencing certain issues.
My menstrual cycle was irregular, I was experiencing vaginal dryness, and my sex drive was almost completely gone. When my issues failed to improve after a couple of months, I made an appointment with my doctor.
I was shocked when I learned my issues were the result of low levels of testosterone. Have you ever experienced any of the same symptoms I did? My doctor told me women and men both have testosterone and estrogen in their bodies
The difference is women have more estrogen, while men have more testosterone. Both are important for the bodies of men and women to be able to function correctly. Every single person has testosterone in their body.
The production of testosterone is higher in certain individual’s bodies than in others. Extra testosterone is taken by some people for a variety of reasons such as supporting gender identity.
Testosterone and Estrogen
As a woman, your levels of testosterone may be lower or higher than the majority of other women. The same is true of your estrogen levels. Both estrogen and testosterone are essentially sex hormones.
Testosterone is classified as an androgen. This is a male sex hormone important for the maintenance, growth, and reproduction of a body in good health. The testes are the main produced of testosterone in men.
In the body of a woman, the ovaries, fat cells, adrenal glands, and skin cells are responsible for the production of testosterone. The bodies of most women only produce between 1/10th and 1/20 of the testosterone produced by men.
Despite being classified as a male sex hormone, a small production of testosterone is very important for your health. Most of the testosterone your body produces comes from your adrenal glands and ovaries.
When combined with estrogen, the female sex hormone, testosterone is important for the maintenance and growth of your bone mass and female reproductive tissue. Both of these hormones can have an influence on your behavior.
I believe understanding the conditions in women capable of impacting your level of testosterone is extremely important. I also believe you should know what symptoms to look for, and the treatments available.
The Sex Hormones for Females and Males
The most common sex hormones for women include:
• Various androgens including testosterone
The most common sex hormones for men include:
• Various estrogens including estradiol
The specific role of testosterone is not the same for both women and men. The androgens and testosterone found in the male body are important for:
• The distribution of body fat
• Producing the correct amount of red blood cells
• Sexual drive or libido
• The growth of hair on both the body and face
• Muscle strength and growth
• Bone density
• The production of sperm
The androgens and testosterone found in the female body are important for:
• Breast health
• Sexual drive or libido
• Vaginal health
• Bone health
• Menstrual health
The androgens in your body including testosterone are easily converted into female sex hormones. When males and females experience puberty, an initial surge of estrogen and testosterone is experienced.
This surge continues until both males and females have completed young adulthood. Due to the production of these sex hormones, secondary sex characteristics are able to develop.
This development includes facial hair, deep voices, breast development and higher voices. The majority of females will never develop the characteristics of males because the androgens such as testosterone work differently in the female body.
Androgens present in your body are converted quickly to estrogen. You can experience an issue if your body begins producing too many androgens like testosterone. Your body will not be able to maintain your conversion to estrogen.
Basically, your body will be unable to keep up with your production of testosterone. In some instances, this results in masculinization, frequently referred to as virilization.
The result is the development of additional sex characteristics of males including male pattern baldness and the growth of undesirable facial hair. As the aging process continues for both women and men, less testosterone is produced by the body.
Despite this, the testosterone still being produced by the body is very important for the maintenance of libido and health for both men and women.
What Level of Testosterone is Standard for Women?
A blood test is used to measure the levels of androgens in your body including testosterone. If your level of testosterone is normal, your blood will contain between 15 and 70 nanograms of testosterone per ng/dL or deciliter.
If your level of testosterone is lower than this level, you may experience some of the same issues I was suffering from including:
• Low sexual drive or libido
• Changes in your breast tissue
• Vaginal dryness
• Irregular or missed menstrual periods
• Issues with fertility
If your levels of testosterone are greater than 70 ng/dL, you may experience the following issues:
• Lack of a menstrual cycle
• Issues with your blood sugar
• PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome
• Infertility issues
• Excessive growth of hair, especially on your face
Do Women Require Treatment when the Levels of Testosterone are Abnormal?
Yes, you will require treatment because abnormal levels of testosterone are an indication an underlying medical condition is present. I have learned this condition can throw off your levels off androgens.
When you are experiencing higher levels of testosterone, the issue may be a tumor on either your adrenal glands or ovaries. You should have your underlying medical condition treated to balance your production of both androgens and testosterone.
Unfortunately, there is always a possibility your condition will not normalize once your underlying medical issues have been treated. In some instances, the production of hormones does not normalize.
If your testosterone levels are high, I recommend considering treatment to decrease the amount of testosterone naturally produced by your body. This will help decrease your associated symptoms including the development of masculine traits.
The most common treatments for women experiencing high levels of testosterone include:
• Oral contraceptives
You may be considering treatment for lower levels of testosterone resulting from surgery including having your ovaries removed, or from a different health condition. There is a reason there might not be an underlying medical condition.
This is because your levels of testosterone will decrease naturally with the progression of the aging process. Research has been conducted in the past. This research is both short-term and older.
The research suggested the female libido can be increased with testosterone therapy provided the levels of this hormone are low. The effects and safety of testosterone therapy for increasing libido in females are still not completely understood.
The effect of using testosterone to level mood, or improve the strength of muscles or bone is also not entirely understood. These are the reasons many physicians do not recommend a woman receiving testosterone treatment.
Testosterone therapy can result in a woman experiencing certain side effects. Even if the woman is naturally producing lower testosterone levels, this remains true. Studies are currently being conducted regarding women and testosterone therapy.
The studies are determining if there is a link between heart disease, and breast cancer for women receiving testosterone therapy. Testosterone therapy can result in numerous side effects including:
• Deeper voice
• Decreased levels of good cholesterol or HDL
• Male pattern baldness
• Hair growth on your chest and face
The typical treatment for men suffering from low testosterone is using testosterone gels or creams manufactured specifically for the male body. Currently there are no testosterone products available specifically for use by women.
Are There any Natural Treatments Available for Abnormal Levels of Testosterone?
If you believe you might have a low level of androgens or testosterone due to a low libido, I want you to know there might be another reason for your issues. Low levels of testosterone are only one reason you may be suffering from a low libido.
There are many other reasons you may be experiencing this issue. The possibilities include:
• A sexual partner suffering from erectile dysfunction
• Issues with a relationship
You can help with the natural restoration of your libido with a combination of different therapies, getting enough rest, techniques to decrease your stress levels and counseling. Of course, I also recommend you look into a natural booster such as the Testogen pills.
There are also several medical conditions that can result in lower testosterone levels including ovarian tumors. If this is the issue, you need to consult with a medical professional for treatment.
If you have taken a blood testing showing your levels of testosterone are high, you can include specific herbs and foods into your diet. In some cases, these foods will help naturally decrease your level of testosterone.
Once you have decreased your level of testosterone, you may reduce the masculine traits resulting because your levels of testosterone were too high. I recommend including the following herbs and foods into your diet to help with your testosterone levels.
• Green tea
• Chasteberry from the chaste tree
• White peony
• Licorice root
• Saw palmetto
• Black cohosh
• Vegetable oil
I recommend speaking with your physician prior to including any herbal remedies with your daily consumption. Ask your physician if there is a potential interaction with any drugs you are currently taking.
Ask if any of these remedies can impact any health conditions you have. You need to remember the bodies of both men and women naturally contain the testosterone androgen. In men, testosterone remains predominantly testosterone.
The difference in the female body is the fast conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
The Importance of Testosterone for Women
Testosterone is extremely important for your general health, growth and reproduction. In most cases, a woman with low levels of testosterone is treated by addressing mental health or underlying medical health concerns.
Men generally use testosterone supplements because they are created specifically for the male body. One of the first steps I recommend if you are experiencing issues is discussing the herbs and foods mentioned above with your physician.
You might be able to decrease your levels of testosterone naturally simply by adding these herbs and foods to your daily diet. I recommend against consuming any of this until you have discussed your specific situation with your doctor.
Normal and High Levels of Testosterone in Females
For men, a normal level of testosterone is between 280 and 1,100 nanograms for each ng/dL or deciliter. The amount of testosterone secreted by women is much lower, with normal levels at 15 to 70 ng/dL.
Your body does not produce the same hormone levels throughout the day. Your production varies as your day progresses. During the morning, your production of testosterone is at the highest point for the entire day.
If your level of testosterone is too high, you will most likely experience a range of symptoms such as acne, a deeper voice, thinning hair, and noticeable changes in your mood.
An imbalance of testosterone can impact both your overall health and physical appearance. If you are experiencing high levels of testosterone, you may notice some of the following symptoms.
• An increase in your muscle mass
• Your clitoris is bigger than normal
• Excess hair on your body and face
• The size of your breasts decreases
• Loss of sexual drive or libido
• Deepening of your voice
• Changes in your moods
• Irregular menstrual cycles
• Thinning hair
If your testosterone levels are severely high, the result can be infertility or obesity.
The Causes of High Levels of Testosterone in Females
In most cases, the reason a woman has high levels of testosterone is an underlying health condition called CAH. CAH or congenital adrenal hyperplasia is classified as a group of disorders impacting the adrenal glands that have been inherited.
The hormones aldosterone and cortisol are secreted by your adrenal glands. This is an important part of the management of your blood pressure and metabolism. Your adrenal glands are also responsible for the production of testosterone and DHEA.
DHEA is a male sex hormone. If you have CAH, you do not have enough of an enzyme required for the regulation of your production of these hormones. The result is secreting either too much or not enough testosterone.
Classic CAH is severe, where nonclassic CAH is often mild. The symptoms of this condition in women include:
• Pubic hair appearing early
• Excessive hair growth on the body
• Lack of or irregular menstrual cycles
• Deeper voice
• Facial hair
• Rapid growth in childhood resulting in a short height as a woman
• Enlarged clitoris
• Severe acne
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure available for CAH. The majority of women with CAH are able to receive treatment to improve the quality of their lives by decreasing the symptoms.
Another potential cause is hirsutism. This condition occurs when the woman experiences the growth of unwanted hair. Hirsutism is a hormonal condition believed to be genetic. Male pattern baldness includes the symptoms of coarse and dark hair growth.
The hair generally affects the face, chest and back. If your levels of testosterone are excessively high, you may experience additional symptoms including:
• Increase in muscle mass
• Deeper voice
• Decreased breast size
• Enlarged clitoris
There are medical treatments and home remedies available to help control hirsutism symptoms in women. Another common hormonal disorder is PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome. Approximately eight to 20 percent of women all over the world are affected.
The syndrome frequently impacts women once the reproductive age is reached. Most women do not receive a diagnosis until in their 20s or 30s, despite children only 11 years of age being affected. The symptoms include:
• Long, infrequent or irregular menstrual cycles
• Excess body hair
• enlarged ovaries with the development of follicles preventing the regular release of eggs
Severe complications can result from PCOS including:
• Type 2 diabetes
• Sleep apnea
• Heart disease
Physicians have not yet determined the cause of PCOS. The belief is excess insulin and genetics may have a role.
Diagnosing High Levels of Testosterone in Women
To diagnose a woman with high levels of testosterone, a blood sample is usually required. If you have high testosterone, you can receive a diagnosis through all of the following options.
A physical examination is conducted so the physician can look for specific symptoms including facial hair growth, excess body hair and acne. The physician will ask you about mood changes, abnormalities with your menstruation and libido.
If your physician suspects you have PCOS, you may need a manual examination of your pelvic region to find any abnormalities.
If high levels of testosterone are suggested by your symptoms. your hormone levels will be tested with a blood sample. Your blood test will occur in the morning since your levels of testosterone will be higher.
Your doctor can use an ultrasound of your uterus and ovaries to check for PCOS.
Treatment for High Testosterone Levels in Women
Your treatment depends on the underlying cause for your high level of testosterone. In most cases, your physician will recommend a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Undesirable hair can be controlled with your treatment.
Specific medications can be used to treat your high levels of testosterone including your associated conditions. The medications include:
• Eflornithine cream can be directly applied to your skin to slow down the growth of facial hair.
• Metformin is used to treat type 2 diabetes.
• Glucocorticosteroids are one of the steroid hormones capable of decreasing inflammation in your body.
• The progestin hormone may improve fertility and regulate menstrual cycles.
• The spironolactone diuretic helps decrease excessive hair growth, and helps with the regulation of your salt and water levels.
• You may be prescribed oral contraceptives to help block the excess testosterone. The best oral contraceptives for hirsutism and high levels of testosterone have lower doses of desogestrel, gestodene and norgestimate.
I want you to understand if you want to become pregnant, oral contraceptives are most likely not the best option due to the potentially adverse side effects.
Hair Removal Treatments
Electrolysis is the insertion of a tiny needle into your individual hair follicles. An electric current pulse goes through the needle to damage your follicle to prevent the growth of new hair. You may need multiple treatments.
During your treatment, your hair follicles are damaged from the application of laser light. You may need multiple treatments. You can control undesirable hair with either laser therapy or electrolysis. Neither treatment will cure underlying imbalances.
You need to be aware treatments for hair removal can have risks including adverse reactions. If you have a hormonal imbalance, I recommend talking to your physician prior to scheduling any treatment to control excess hair.
You can make certain lifestyle changes to decrease your high levels of testosterone. You can manage your symptoms by making other types of changes. One of the most important steps you can take is achieving, and remaining at a healthy weight.
If you lose between five and 10 percent of the total weight of your body, your PCS symptoms may improve, complications can be prevented, your testosterone levels may decrease, and infertility can be prevented.
Managing Undesirable Hair:
There are numerous options for treating the excess hair growth on you body and face including:
• Chemical depilatories
You can make the hair less visible by bleaching.
The Bottom Line
If you have high levels of testosterone, you may be experiencing a wide range of symptoms due to an underlying health issues including infertility and excess facial hair.
Frequently, your symptoms can be reduced by having your underlying issue treated. The result is an improvement in your quality of life. If you believe your levels of testosterone are high due to your symptoms, I encourage you to contact your doctor.
Your physician can find the underlying cause to enable you to receive the most appropriate treatments for your condition.