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What is High Testosterone?

Written by Author - Authors Medical experts of the National HRT Clinic - November 23, 2015

Aggressive behavior, risk taking, alcohol abuse – these are all things that might have a basis in high testosterone. Although it is more common to hear people talk about having too little testosterone in their bloodstream – males and females alike – there are individuals for whom increased testosterone levels are a problem – and a health concern.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that most mainstream doctors do not often think to check for high levels of testosterone as a reason for certain symptoms of changes in the body. The fact is that issues such as hyperthyroidism or a tumor of the adrenal glands or testicles are possible.

Many doctors often question if there has been some form of anabolic steroid abuse that could be the cause of any high testosterone symptoms in men and women. “Roid” rage is a perfect example of how aggression and irritability associated with high testosterone levels can be misinterpreted along the way to a proper diagnosis.

Since there are some inherent differences in the causes and symptoms of high testosterone between the sexes, let’s examine them separately, beginning with men.

Physical Signs and Symptoms of High Testosterone in Men

Most males worry about Low T at one point or another in their lives, but for some, high testosterone in men is the bigger concern. Although this is not as common as its declining counterpart, adverse changes in testosterone levels in one way or another will have a damaging effect on the body at some point.

The high testosterone symptoms may not be as widespread or rampant as those associated with Low T, but they can still cause problems if left untreated. These symptoms include:

  • Back and shoulder acne
  • Oily skin
  • Infertility
  • Hair loss from head
  • Hair growth on the body
  • Possible testicular shrinkage
  • Gynecomastia – breast enlargement
  • Fluid retention
  • Worsening sleep apnea
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Polycythemia – high red blood cell count
  • Liver disease

Symptoms such as breast enlargement and testicular shrinkage may be caused by the excess testosterone in the body being converted into estrogen. These are issues associated with a higher level of estrogen in a male’s body.

Part of the problem with men having too much testosterone in their bodies is that it can make them aggressive. Alcohol and tobacco consumption are typically higher in this group of males. There may, at times, be a predisposition to engage in risky or dangerous behavior, including physical, sexual, and even criminal activities. Men with high testosterone are more prone to injuries, possible due to excessive risk taking. The higher the testosterone levels, the greater the risky behavior as seen in numerous studies.

High Testosterone Symptoms in Women

High Testosterone Therapy Doctor

With all of the talk about low testosterone levels in menopausal women these days, people often tend to overlook the other side of the spectrum – high testosterone in women. These symptoms can often be as debilitating as those of Low T.

Symptoms of high testosterone in women include:

  • Increased acne
  • Excess facial and body hair growth
  • Infertility
  • Frontal balding or thinning hair on head
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Deepening voice
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Menstrual irregularity

Part of the reason high female testosterone is often forgotten is that women naturally have much lower levels of this vital hormone than men, but that does not make it any less important for a woman to maintain at a proper level throughout her life. There are four main causes of increased testosterone in the body of a female, and that is what is going to be discussed below.

Causes of High Testosterone in Women

  • 1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

This is the condition that doctors typically first suspect when women are diagnosed with higher than normal levels of testosterone in their blood. It is thought to affect as many as 10% of all women in America, and may be associated with insulin resistance, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, elevated triglyceride and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and carbohydrate intolerance.

  • 2. Diabetes

Weight gain can also play a role in high testosterone levels, and women with diabetes may have issues with obesity. It is unknown at this time if higher androgen concentrations increase insulin resistance or if increased insulin production was the originating factor stimulating androgen production in the ovaries. All that is known at this time is that one seems to go along with the other.

  • 3. Adrenal disease

Adrenal glands are sometimes the disrupting force behind fluctuations in the hormonal balance in the body. This can be caused by late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia – a genetic disorder that occurs when there is insufficient production of the hormone cortisol.

  • 4. Other Causes:
  1. Cushing’s syndrome
  2. Acromegaly
  3. Gigantism
  4. Adrenal or ovarian tumor
  5. Adrenal neoplasm disorders
  6. Conn’s syndrome
  7. Thyroid disorders
  8. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  9. Dwarfism

How to Keep Testosterone Levels in Balance

Just as the causes of high testosterone differ between males and females, the treatment to lower testosterone levels will also be gender related. Under no circumstances should anyone ever embark on this type of treatment plan without doctor supervision. A hormone replacement specialist is the best practitioner to help with this process.

Women with high testosterone may receive any of the following treatments:

  • Metformin – this medication is used for the lowering of blood glucose levels associated with Type 2 diabetes along with lowering testosterone levels in women. Weight loss and decreased body hair growth are other benefits that come with this treatment. Improved ovulation may help to normalize periods. There are some side effects of Metformin, including nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea. Make certain to have liver and kidney function and blood glucose levels checked on a regular basis while taking this medication.
  • Glucocorticosteroids – low doses of prednisone or dexamethasone may be prescribed for daily use for two to three months to reduce androgen production by the adrenal gland. This may also help to reduce excess hair growth, and improve acne and fertility in women.
  • Spironolactone – this is an antiandrogen the blocks the effects of hormones such as testosterone. This medication should not be used by women wanting to get pregnant as it can cause birth defects. Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and loss of sex drive have all been reported as possible side effects.
  • Oral contraceptives – birth control pills work to regulate hormone levels and can lower testosterone levels. This will also help to decrease acne and hirsutism (excess body hair), and prevent male pattern balding in women. This treatment is not recommended for females with a history of blood clots or migraines.
  • Lifestyle changes – weight loss is often the most widely suggested way of lowering testosterone levels for adults – women and men alike – who are dealing with high testosterone levels. Both diet and exercise should be used to accomplish this goal.

Men may also be prescribed the antiandrogen drug spironolactone to lower their testosterone levels. LHRH – luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone medications may also be used if weight loss does not work. Consuming less meat and dairy and more vegetables and fish is recommended.

At National HRT, each person is treated as a unique individual, and not a condition or test result. Treatment plans are individualized based on personal needs. We offer local diagnostic testing, support, confidential consultations that are free of charge, and affordable treatment options.

Medically reviewed by   Reviewers National HRT Staff - Updated on November 21, 2023

Please note that the information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.


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  6. Low testosterone levels may be associated with suicidal behavior in older men while high testosterone levels may be related to suicidal behavior in adolescents and young adults: a hypothesis. Sher L. Med Health. 2013;25(3):263-8