For many women who experience hormonal imbalance, excess androgen production can be a major concern as it can lead to all kinds of havoc in the female body. Acne, excess body hair and mood disorders are just some of the problems associated with too much of these male hormones. Many women with high levels of a form of testosterone called free testosterone have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), characterized by irregular mensturation or absent periods, infertility, blood sugar disorders, and, in some cases, symptoms like acne and excess hair growth. Left untreated, high levels of androgens, regardless of whether a woman has PCOS or not, are associated with serious health consequences, such as insulin resistance and diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Causes of High Testosterone in Females
In healthy women, the ovaries and adrenal glands produce about 40 to 50% of the body’s testosterone. Tumors of the ovaries and PCOS can both cause too much androgen production.
Cushing’s disease is a problem with the pituitary gland that leads to excess amounts of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids cause masculine body changes in women. Tumors in the adrenal glands can also cause too much production of androgens and can lead to male body characteristics in women.
Signs of High Testosterone in Females
Hirsutism is a condition in which a woman develops excess coarse hair growth the way men typically do – on the chin, face, abdomen and chest. Treatment for hirsutism may include electrolysis and laser hair removal. Prescription medications such as oral contraceptives may also counteract excess hair growth.
2. Change in Body Shape
Over a long period of time, without treatment, women with high testosterone may find that their muscle mass increases, body fat is redistributed, and – in rare cases – enlargement of the clitoris occurs.
Virilization is an indication of significantly high testosterone levels in women. Symptoms of virilization include enlargement of the clitoris, lowering of the voice and breast atrophy.
This condition is often associated with tumors of the adrenal glands or ovaries. Virilization also includes increased libido and male-pattern muscle mass gain and if left untreated, can lead to increased risks of heart disease and hypertension.
4. Deepening of the Voice
This symptom may be a gradual or rapid change from high vocal pitches to lower ones.
Acne is a common side effect of hyperandrogenism. High levels of testosterone increase sebum production, a viscous substance that can clog the pores. Bacteria on the face cause inflammation, leading to the formation of acne on the face, back and chest. Medications, frequent washing of the affected areas and application of over-the-counter acne cream may decrease acne.
6. Hair Loss
Male pattern hair loss – androgenetic alopecia – is a common physical effect of high testosterone levels in women. Generally, this hair loss begins at the vertex of the scalp and continues to the temples, much like the pattern seen in males. Diffuse hair loss might affect the entire scalp.
7. Menstrual Problems
Women with high levels of testosterone might experience disturbances in their menstrual cycle. This usually occurs in the form of amenorrhea – complete cessation of menstruation. Oligomenorrhea – infrequent or light menstrual cycles – may also be caused by high testosterone levels in women. These menstrual disturbances can eventually lead to infertility.
How to Reduce Testosterone in Females
There are a number of ways to reduce testosterone in females. While the birth control pill might be the most popular way, it is by no means the only option.
The impact of a regular exercise on our overall hormone and whole body health is powerful.
According to a 12-month study conducted by Anne McTiernan at the Cancer Prevention Research Program of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, data sh
ows that loss of body fat in conjunction with moderate intensity exercise causes greater decline in androgen, testosterone and free testosterone.
Combining a healthy diet high in protein and free of processed foods, unhealthy carbohydrates, sugars and fats in addition to moderate exercise, 45 minutes a day, 5 days a week should be the starting point towards getting the body back on the right track.
2. Spearmint Tea: Spearmint tea is among one of the most prominent herbal tea for correction of excess testosterone. A study carried out in Turkey showed that PCOS women who drank 2 cups of spearmint tea every day for a month showed a significant reduction in the level of excess androgen.
That’s because the hops of which the beer is made from are highly estrogenic, containing up to 300,000 IU’s of estrogen per 100 grams of hops.
Hops are actually so estrogenic that the women who pick them up by hand are suffering from whacked up menstrual cycles.
According to Dr. Neal Barnard in his book, “Foods That Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief,” eating rice can help reduce your testosterone levels. This is may be because rice is low in fat, which tends to reduce testosterone levels.
Barnard explains that as the liver filters the blood, it removes testosterone and sends it down the bile duct into the small intestine. There, fiber from foods such as rice soaks it up and carries it away with other wastes.
Another food that may be helpful in reducing testosterone levels is soy. This is due to soy’s high content of compounds called isoflavones, which alter estrogen levels in your body, according to health journalist Deborah Yost in her book, “The Anti-Cancer Food and Supplement Guide.”
This, in turn, lowers testosterone levels. Yost notes that it is important to eat soy in moderation to limit the estrogenic effects. One serving a day should suffice. Check with your doctor before consuming soy in supplement form.
6. Lima Beans
Almost all of the foods in the bean and legume category seem to have some estrogenic activity.
Take lima beans for example. They’re filled with a phytoestrogenic fiber called inositol, which lowered testosterone levels in this study. They’re also filled with phytoestrogenic lingans, which reduced serum testosterone levels and inhibited dihydrotestosterone in this study.
7. Reduce Sugar Intake
One of the easiest ways to see an improvement in hormone fluctuations is to reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates. These substances cause high blood sugar, which results in higher insulin levels. Higher levels of insulin stimulate the ovaries to produce more male hormones.
- By reducing these levels through diet, the testosterone level may be reduced in the body as well.
8. Avoid Cigarettes and Alcohol
Research has shown that smoking and drinking produce changes in hormone levels. They can also influence the severity and frequency of the unpleasant symptoms you may be experiencing.
9. Go Vegetarian
Studies have shown that the relationship between dietary nutrients and testosterone was significantly lower in vegetarians than in omnivores.