Signs of High Testosterone in Men and Women

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “high testosterone levels”? 

Burly and masculine men lifting weights at the gym? Guys ready to start a brawl? 

Contrary to popular belief, high testosterone in men doesn’t always have to do with anger issues. 

Testosterone is a key sex hormone that ladies have too. 

So, what happens when men’s and women’s testosterone levels get too high? 

How can you spot the symptoms?

 Here is what naturally high testosterone or excess testosterone can do to the body. 

What are high testosterone levels in men?

Male testosterone levels vary depending on overall health and age. Men often have higher T levels than women. 

The testes are capable of producing testosterone in men. The adrenal glands can produce T levels in small amounts. 

It is difficult to estimate the normal testosterone levels in men. That’s because factors like diet, BMI, drug therapy, diseases, alcohol consumption, and age affect how much testosterone they have. (1)

With that in mind, here is what normal testosterone levels by age can look like in a healthy, non-obese men:

  • 20 to 30 years – 264 to 916 ng/dL 
  • 40s – 252 to 916 ng/dL
  • 50s – 215 to 878 ng/dL
  • 60s – 156 to 819 ng/dL

Testosterone is a key sex hormone in men, responsible for regulating sex drive, fat distribution, bone mass, strength, muscle mass, and sperm and red blood cell production. 

When the total testosterone is well over 950 ng/dL and free testosterone over 30 ng/dL, then a doctor might view this as an increase in testosterone in male patients. 

Do have in mind that obese men have 30% lower T levels than healthy men, and 40% have levels under the lower normal limit. A primary care physician or urologist can help make an accurate estimate of increasing testosterone in males. (2)

What are high testosterone levels in women?

In a woman’s body, the ovaries are in charge of producing testosterone. With estrogen, testosterone in women helps repair, maintain, and grow the reproductive tissues and bone mass. 

For females 19 or older, normal T levels can range from 8 to 60 ng/dL. Anything over that is considered high testosterone. 

Excess testosterone affects up to 20% of the female population globally. It is also a key factor in the development of PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). (3)

Excess testosterone or an imbalance in testosterone production can impair a woman’s sex drive and health. Research shows that early postmenopausal women with a testosterone level increase have higher cardiovascular risk factors and insulin resistance. (4)

Signs of high testosterone in a man

During puberty, an “awakening” happens in the male body. Boys experience an enlargement of the testes and scrotum. It also leads to drastically elevated testosterone in men. 

The classic signs of high testosterone in a man who recently hit puberty are: (5)

  • Physical growth in height, weight, and length
  • Acne
  • Spike in sex drive
  • Increased erectile function
  • More body hair
  • Deeper voice 
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Enlarged breasts (gynecomastia)

Abnormally high testosterone in males can also lead to:

  • Risky or aggressive behavior
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Liver or heart issues
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Swelling in the feet or legs
  • Unintended weight gain
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia

Men who take too much testosterone can experience some serious mood swings. The classic side effects of high testosterone are that a person can be more impatient and irritable. They are more likely to make rash decisions and can have depressive highs and lows. (6) (7)

Their behavior changes from their usual self, which can have a major impact on a man’s social life. 

In contrast, the lower testosterone symptoms are different. Men with low T levels can experience:

  • Infertility
  • Increased body fat
  • Drop in hemoglobin
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Mild anemia
  • Decrease in body hair

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Signs of high testosterone in women

Symptoms of high testosterone are associated with numerous physical changes. Some of the high T symptoms in women are similar to those in men. 

The classic testosterone signs include:

  • Acne
  • Increase in body hair (particularly facial hair)
  • Deeper voice
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Reduced breast size
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Balding
  • Menstrual cycle irregularities
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Mood changes

Acne, for example, is some of the most classic signs of high testosterone in women. One research found that women with severe comedonal acne had drastically higher testosterone and DHEA-S levels. (8)

Can testosterone cause bloating?

A woman’s digestive tract is a bit longer (roughly 10 cm). It also has a different shape than the male gut. 

The reproductive organs, like the ovaries and uterus, take up more space. Higher levels of this hormone can tighten up the abdominal wall in men. But, constipation and testosterone bloating are more likely to happen in women. 

Does high testosterone cause insomnia? 

One research evaluated the impact of too much testosterone on sleep quality. Both excessive and insufficient T levels can affect sleep. 

Based on the results, short-term administration of high-dose testosterone makes a person sleep fewer hours. It also worsens their sleep apnea. (9) (10)

Can testosterone cause night sweats?

Testosterone sweating, or night sweats in men, often happens because of low testosterone levels

When it comes to testosterone sensitivity, research shows there is a close link between increased emotional reactivity in the brain and long-term testosterone levels. 

Those with high trait T levels often have heightened emotional vigilance. It means they can be highly sensitive to anxiety, anger, pain, stress, loss, and grief. (11) 

What happens when your testosterone increases?

What does increased testosterone do to the body? 

In men, T levels naturally increase in response to sex or arousal. Those who experience testosterone spikes typically have increased sexual activity. Older men require better testosterone production to manage their erectile function and sex drive. 

But, some men also take testosterone to increase their energy and muscle mass, and control their body weight. 

When there is a lowering of testosterone in males, patients can benefit from testosterone treatment. This can increase strength and muscle mass, and curb fat mass. 

When a woman experiences the effects of increased testosterone on the body, she can have missing periods, balding, increased muscle mass, and oily skin. 

The increase in testosterone, followed by a progesterone drop, can worsen sleep difficulties. That’s why many women with high testosterone report sleep disturbances.

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What are the effects of too much testosterone?

Too much testosterone in men and women can cause various problems. This includes infertility, aggression, excessive body and facial hair. 

Men tend to experience high testosterone effects because of frequently using steroids or too much from testosterone supplements. 

Symptoms of testosterone overdose include blurry vision, slurred speech, and headaches. It can also cause a sudden inability to speak and weakness in the leg or arm on one side of the body. 

In women, the testosterone excess symptoms are usually the result of an underlying medical condition, like hormonal disorders. 

Taking too much testosterone can make a person more irritable and aggressive. They can develop oily skin or make their sleep apnea worse. 

Symptoms of too much testosterone include:

  • Fluid retention
  • Reduced sperm count and testicle size
  • Oily or acne-prone skin
  • Prostate swelling
  • Increase in red blood cells

When to see a doctor

If your testosterone levels are too high, you might experience chest pain, trouble breathing, and dizziness. Some people also have testosterone and body hair problems, which can be annoying, especially for women. 

Contact a healthcare provider if the high T production is causing:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Abnormal changes in good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Fainting
  • Swelling in the legs or hands
  • Trouble speaking
  • Stroke-like symptoms

If a person is sensitive to testosterone, they can develop acne, high blood pressure, increased appetite, and liver or heart problems. 

It’s important to manage the increased testosterone side effects early on. These side effects include increased aggressive behavior, reduced sperm count, increased urination, fluid retention, and acne. 

doctor

Causes of high testosterone in men and women

What causes high testosterone? Hormonal disorders and different ailments can affect T levels. Some of the most profound high testosterone causes in men and women are:

Testosterone supplementation 

When a person uses more than the recommended amount or prescribed dose, they can experience side effects. Many athletes and bodybuilders try to use bigger doses to get faster results. But, this can cause more harm than good.

Anabolic steroid abuse 

Fitness enthusiasts often abuse steroids to boost their physical performance and get more muscle mass. 

Tumors 

Testicle and adrenal tumors could lead to excess testosterone levels.

Testosterone gel 

Applying the gel alongside supplements and steroids can also increase T levels. 

testosterone-gel

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia 

Untreated CAH can trigger excessive T hormone production. This can result in the rapid growth of both girls and boys. 

Polycystic ovary syndrome 

Between 4-7% of women have too much testosterone in their ovaries. These women have a pattern of symptoms called PCOS. 

Hirsutism 

This is a hormonal ailment in women that leads to growing unwanted hair. Mainly on the chest, face, and back. It can make testosterone skyrocket. 

Treatments 

The treatment option will vary based on what’s causing the problem. Doctors often recommend medication and lifestyle changes. 

In order to decrease testosterone, it’s important to use supplements in the right doses. Talk to a doctor about how to decrease testosterone. 

For women, doctors can recommend Progestin for improving fertility and regulating their periods. If there is unwanted facial hair, then products like Eflornithine can help. 

If diabetes is causing unstable testosterone, then patients could take metformin. To block excess testosterone in women, patients may take oral contraceptives (birth control pills). But, consult a specialist to find the best treatment that will work for you. 

Natural remedies

There are also natural ways to keep testosterone in tip-top shape. This includes:

  • Exercising regularly to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Nourishing the body with a healthy dose of vitamins, proteins, and minerals. 
  • Avoiding processed foods and excessive alcohol intake.
  • Reducing cortisol and stress levels.
  • Establishing healthy sleeping patterns. 

Conclusion

Throughout the day, testosterone levels can swing up and down. As long as you keep it within a normal range, you have nothing to worry about. 

But, in some cases, the T levels can go well over the normal threshold and cause a range of problems. 

If you recognize the signs of high testosterone in a man or woman, it’s best to talk to a specialist. They can suggest the ideal course of action that can mitigate your particular health problem.

Explore More

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10 Effects of Testosterone on the Body.

Sources

  1. Travison TG, Vesper HW, Orwoll E, Wu F, Kaufman JM, Wang Y, Lapauw B, Fiers T, Matsumoto AM, Bhasin S. Harmonized Reference Ranges for Circulating Testosterone Levels in Men of Four Cohort Studies in the United States and Europe. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5460736/
  2. Mangolim, Amanda S. MD; Brito, Leonardo A. R. BS; Nunes-Nogueira, Vania S. MD, PhD*. Effectiveness of testosterone therapy in obese men with low testosterone levels, for losing weight, controlling obesity complications, and preventing cardiovascular events: Protocol of a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Medicine: April 2018. https://journals.lww.com/md-journal/fulltext/2018/04270/effectiveness_of_testosterone_therapy_in_obese_men.40.aspx
  3. Dulohery K, Trottmann M, Bour S, Liedl B, Alba-Alejandre I, Reese S, Hughes B, Stief CG, Kölle S. How do elevated levels of testosterone affect the function of the human fallopian tube and fertility?-New insights. Mol Reprod Dev. 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31705839/
  4. Patel SM, Ratcliffe SJ, Reilly MP, Weinstein R, Bhasin S, Blackman MR, Cauley JA, Sutton-Tyrrell K, Robbins J, Fried LP, Cappola AR. Higher serum testosterone concentration in older women is associated with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2795656/
  5. Bain J. The many faces of testosterone. Clin Interv Aging. 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686330/
  6. Batrinos ML. Testosterone and aggressive behavior in man. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Summer;10(3):563-8. doi: 10.5812/ijem.3661. Epub 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3693622/
  7. Johnson JM, Nachtigall LB, Stern TA. The effect of testosterone levels on mood in men: a review. Psychosomatics. 2013. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24016385/
  8. Iftikhar U, Choudhry N. Serum levels of androgens in acne & their role in acne severity. Pak J Med Sci. 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408631/
  9. Wittert G. The relationship between sleep disorders and testosterone in men. Asian J Androl. 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955336/
  10. Peter Y. Liu, Brendon Yee, Susan M. Wishart, Mark Jimenez, Dae Gun Jung, Ronald R. Grunstein, David J. Handelsman, The Short-Term Effects of High-Dose Testosterone on Sleep, Breathing, and Function in Older Men, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 8, 1 August 2003. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/88/8/3605/2845283
  11. Sanja Klein, Onno Kruse, Isabell Tapia León, Tobias Stalder, Rudolf Stark, Tim Klucken, Increased neural reactivity to emotional pictures in men with high hair testosterone concentrations, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 14, Issue 9, September 2019. https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/14/9/1009/5567133

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