Though testosterone is primarily a “male hormone” that conjures up images of exaggerated muscles and full, thick beards, it is actually an essential component of the female reproductive system as well. However, just like other hormones, it can quickly become out of wack and imbalanced, leading to several frustrating and potentially embarrassing symptoms. Ladies, here are 8 signs you may have too much testosterone.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a male sex hormone or androgen that is produced in male testicles and in a woman’s ovaries and adrenal glands in much smaller amounts. When the female body naturally secretes this chemical substance in healthy amounts, it works together with estrogen to support the health, maintenance, growth, and repair of reproductive tissues.
Unfortunately, maintaining proper hormone levels is a delicate balancing act. Too much estrogen or testosterone in the body can disrupt natural function and wreak havoc on your female reproductive system. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be producing too much testosterone and should schedule an appointment with your doctor to help determine the cause.
You have excessive hair loss or balding
If you notice more hair falling out than usual or bald patches appearing on your head when you brush or wash your hair, you may be experiencing a form of scalp hair loss called androgenic alopecia. Estrogen plays a big part in regulating hair growth, and when it is overpowered by testosterone, you are subject to balding. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, androgenic hair loss is the only symptom in approximately 15 percent of reproductive-aged women with high levels of male sex hormones.
Your voice has gotten deeper
Though this one may be hard to notice on your own, excessive testosterone can lead to a ragged or deepening voice over time, similar to what teenage boys experience during puberty.
It’s normal and expected to get a zit every once in a while; however, persistent, inexplicable acne, particularly around your chin, cheeks, and jawbone could be an indication of a hormone imbalance. Testosterone-related acne may appear as large bumps or knots that stay below the surface of your skin rather than small pimples that develop a head. Your skin may also be overly oily because androgens stimulate oil glands in the skin, which can also lead to acne development.
High levels of testosterone can be a source of frustrating weight gain for many women. Often the signs are difficult to trace directly back to a hormonal imbalance so you may not even realize why you are unable to lose weight and even notice yourself gaining a few pounds. Turbulent hormones have also been linked to excess cravings for sugary and fatty processed foods which can also be a contribution to inadequate weight-management.
Hair growth on your face or chest
A little peach fuzz on the upper lip is normal and isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, excessive, thick hair growth on your face or chest could be a sign of elevated testosterone. When it gets to the point where the hair is noticeable, and you have to start grooming, you know something is wrong.
Though it may not seem like a negative side effect at first, a clitoris that appears to have grown in size could be a sign of a tumor in the adrenal glands or ovaries that is causing excess testosterone production.
Changes in personality
Testosterone could increase feelings of aggression and cause noticeable changes to your personality. Keep an eye out for sudden aggression, acute irritability, and lack of impulse control in your day-to-day life.
Increased sex drive
Also known as “hypersexuality,” insanely high libido, especially for extended periods could warrant a blood test to rule out high testosterone.
What causes high testosterone in women
High testosterone in women is referred to as hyperandrogenism and can be related to several conditions. However, the most common cause, affecting about 5-10 percent reproductive-age women in the United States is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can be characterized by irregular, prolonged periods, weight gain, hair growth, infertility, or even type 2 diabetes. This condition can usually be managed by proper exercise and diet, but it is essential to consult a doctor if you suspect PCOS. Adrenal disease, diabetes, and ovarian tumors may also be the cause of increased male sex hormones in the body.