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It is essential to understand that men do not have a monopoly over testosterone. It is also produced in the female body but at much lower levels. Most researchers agree that 15 to 70 ng/dL is the normal range for women, which is about 20 times lower than in males. Nonetheless testosterone is vital for female health.
In women about half of the testosterone is produced by conversion of androstenedione (in fats cells, blood, and other peripheral tissues), one-fourth is produced by ovaries, and another one-fourth by adrenals. Low concentration of testosterone in women in comparison to men does not undermine its role in female health. Women are more sensitive to testosterone than men, and even smaller changes may cause visible signs and symptoms.
Yes, definitely. It may happen due to disease, aging, rejection of ovaries by surgery, and so on. Low testosterone increases the risk of anemia, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, emotional distress, disturbed sleep pattern in women. Low testosterone may also reduce sex drive in women.
It is a comparatively well-studied phenomenon. High testosterone in women often leads to acne, deepening of voice, excessive body hair growth, irregular periods, large clitoris, mood swings, reduction in breast size, thinning of hair, and so on. Very high levels will lead to infertility. Anabolic steroids may also produce symptoms characteristic of high testosterone.
Three most common reasons for elevated testosterone in women are adrenal hyperplasia, hirsutism (mainly genetic), and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). PCOS is one of the most common causes characterized by high testosterone, insulin resistance, and various metabolic disorders. You can know if your testosterone level is high or not by looking at signs and symptoms, blood tests, and other lab examinations.
It would depend on the cause of high testosterone. One can lower testosterone either with medications or through natural methods. Undoubtedly, medications are reserved for more severe cases.
In those with PCOS, testosterone may be controlled by supplementing the diet with myoinositol. There is enough research that myoinositol may help reduce insulin resistance, improve fertility in women with high testosterone.
Soy-based supplements, drinks, food products may also help reduce testosterone as they are rich in phytoestrogens. Drinking spearmint tea may also help control symptoms of high testosterone.
Nuts may also help to reduce levels of free testosterone in women by increasing levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).
Drinking a glass of wine, occasionally, may also help manage high levels of testosterone. However, women should be cautious with alcohol as there are conflicting reports that over consumption may rather increase testosterone levels (though a high amount of alcohol always reduces testosterone levels in men).
If natural ways fail to help, a doctor may prescribe drugs like metformin, glucocorticosteroids, spironolactone. Oral contraceptives are excellent in reducing high testosterone, though they may not be fit for those planning a pregnancy.