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How To Lower Testosterone in Women: Signs and Symptoms


How To Lower Testosterone in Women: Signs and Symptoms

Testosterone is an important hormone for women and plays a key role in regulating bone density, muscle mass, sex drive (libido), insulin levels, and overall general health and fitness.

Excess testosterone brings about several unwanted physical changes as well as a degradation in overall health. 

Key Takeaways 

  • High testosterone in women can have significant long term health effects such as heart failure, liver and kidney disease, and increased risk of cancer
  • Weight loss, diet, and exercise can help reduce high testosterone levels
  • PCOS is thought to be caused by abnormal levels of male hormones
  • There are a number of specific foods that can help you drop your testosterone levels

What Is the Normal Level of Testosterone in a Woman? 

Women produce testosterone and free testosterone just like men, but in smaller amounts [1]. The natural levels of testosterone in a woman will vary with age–peak production is just after birth and at puberty [2]. Thereafter, levels will slowly drop and by the time a woman is in her 40’s, her free testosterone levels will have halved.

Here’s an example of normal testosterone levels in females from birth to 19 years:

how to lower testosterone

  • 0-5 months: 20-80 ng/dL
  • 6 months-9 years: <7-20 ng/dL
  • 10-11 years: <7-44 ng/dL
  • 12-16 years: <7-75 ng/dL
  • 17-18 years: 20-75 ng/dL
  • 19 years: 8-60 ng/dL

Any sort of hormone imbalances, either high or low testosterone may cause health issues of varying significance. 

Read on to learn more about testosterone levels by age.

Symptoms of High Testosterone in Women

Long-term elevated testosterone may exhibit a number of symptoms. It may affect your health, appearance or both [3].

Elevated testosterone (androgen) levels can affect a range of body tissues and typically cause women to express what would be thought of as stereotypically male traits. 

Testosterone and other androgens work slowly. Their effects are not felt like, say, ibuprofen, which is almost immediate. For the effects listed below, it is necessary to have raised testosterone levels for months. 

Acne

Too much testosterone may cause post-pubescent acne which can be quite severe and disfiguring. It is most notable on the face, chest and back. 

Excess Body Hair, Particularly Facial Hair

One of the symptoms of high testosterone levels is a condition known as hirsutism. The hair growth will generally be coarser and darker than normal. It will grow on the face, typically the upper lip, the chest, and back.

Increased Muscle Mass

Testosterone is often used by bodybuilders to gain muscle mass and increase bone density. Having elevated testosterone will certainly result in weight gain, a larger frame, and ‘bulking up.’ 

how to lower testosterone Influence of testosterone on total body mass (kg)
The testosterone group showed a more significant increase in total body mass compared to the placebo group
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6711889/

Decreased Breast Size

Higher free testosterone levels will, over time, result in a reduction in breast size. You can also see this effect in female bodybuilders who use androgens and are interested in extreme muscle gain. 

Deepening of the Voice

Elevated testosterone levels can result in morphological changes to the body. The larynx (voice box) and vocal cords will change shape, resulting in a lower voice. 

Balding or Male Pattern Baldness

High testosterone production is linked to male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia (hair loss) in women. This is usually seen as a receding hairline and hair loss on the crown of the head.

Enlarged Clitoris

A result of high testosterone levels is a prominent clitoris. The penis is an outgrowth of cells that, in females, become the clitoris. The result is an enlarged clitoris where there is a hormone imbalance.  

Infertility

Any derangement of the sexual hormones can affect fertility. The contraceptive pill is exactly this, a change in the female hormones. 

Excessive androgens, such as testosterone, over a length of time, can lead to a suppression of egg maturation and therefore infertility. 

Once the normal hormonal balance is restored, ovulation and fertility should return to normal. 

Low Libido

One symptom of high testosterone in women can be a loss of libido and a reduction in sexual gratification. 

This is only a temporary effect of elevated testosterone in women and should quickly return to normal when testosterone levels are back on track. 

Irregular Periods

Any hormonal imbalance can cause irregular periods. Either high testosterone or low testosterone in women can upset a regular cycle.

Hormonal birth control works by creating an artificial baseline for the hormone level and stops or reduces periods.  

When the testosterone imbalance is addressed, the menstrual cycle should return to its previous normal. 

How To Lower Testosterone: PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is commonly caused by abnormal levels of testosterone. Women with PCOS show a range of the symptoms detailed above [4].

Your healthcare provider will run a number of tests, such as a pelvic exam, a physical, an ultrasound, and blood tests.

Your doctor may recommend birth control pills. They will quickly help lower androgen production, which will help alleviate the symptoms once normal testosterone levels are achieved. 

If polycystic ovary syndrome is caused by raised hormone levels, your doctor may prescribe diabetes medications to help balance your blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. Reducing insulin resistance and blood sugar control can help women with PCOS [15]

Another trigger of polycystic ovary syndrome is obesity. Your health care provider will likely suggest a regime of healthy eating and exercise.  

Dietary changes can alleviate the symptoms and can also help reduce insulin resistance. This can lower blood glucose and help you ovulate. 

Testosterone is an important hormone but if you suspect something is amiss, not just polycystic ovarian syndrome, you should always consult your physician. 

How Can a Woman Reduce Testosterone Levels?

There are various treatment options available for women who are dealing with raised testosterone levels, however, the right treatment for you depends on the cause. 

Treatment options generally include certain medications or lifestyle changes, which we will get more into below.

What Foods Can Help Reduce Testosterone Levels in Women?

If medical treatment isn’t up your alley, diet changes might just be all you need to lower your testosterone. 

how to lower testosterone

Soy and Soy Products

Soya beans contain phytoestrogens. These are compounds found in certain plants that mimic the effect of estrogen in the body. 

One of the effects of high estrogen in the body is it reduces testosterone levels. Some studies have suggested good results whereas others have been less promising [6][7].

Dairy 

Cow’s milk naturally contains small amounts of estrogen, progesterone and other hormones–it may also contain synthetic hormones. The feed for cows can also contain soy and soy-based products.

This can help to decrease testosterone slightly.

Green Tea

Green tea is known for its many health benefits. Studies have now shown that it may also be able to lower total testosterone levels in the body [8]

Green tea prevents the formation of DHT, a hormone formed from testosterone. DHT has the same effect as testosterone but is far stronger.

Marjoram

Marjoram is a common herb known for its health benefits and anecdotal ability to restore hormonal balance and to regulate the menstrual cycle.

Women in a randomized controlled trial received marjoram for a month. Insulin sensitivity was improved and blood sugar levels lowered compared to the cohort taking the placebo tea [9].

Overall this resulted in low testosterone compared to women with PCOS. 

Red Reishi Mushrooms

A study showed that this species of Japanese mushroom was the most effective of the 20 tested in reducing 5-alpha-reductase [10]. This enzyme converts testosterone into DHT. 

Mint

There have been a number of clinical trials with spearmint and peppermint teas that have demonstrated a lowering of testosterone in women [11].

In one trial the spearmint tea group showed lower testosterone levels compared to the placebo tea group.  

Nuts

Limited studies have been done with almonds and walnuts that show a decrease in testosterone levels in women. 

Tests showed that the sample group of women displayed an increase in sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) by around 14% [12]

Sex hormone-binding globulin is a type of protein found in the blood that preferentially binds to testosterone, lowering the amount available in circulation. 

Fish 

There is slight evidence suggesting that some fish oils may be beneficial to health. In women with PCOS, omega-3 oil has been shown to lower testosterone levels in women [13].

Vitamins/Supplements To Reduce Testosterone Levels in Women

Along with the foods mentioned above, there are different supplements and vitamins that could help you lower testosterone levels in your body. 

Licorice 

A study showed that taking licorice supplements can reduce testosterone in healthy women during their period [15]

Flaxseed

A study consisting of a single woman with PCOS showed reduced total and free testosterone. The dose of flaxseed tested was 30 grams per day. During and after the trial, the patient also reported a decrease in overall hirsutism [16]. A study consisting of a single individual isn’t statistically sound, but if further study is carried out, it may be one to monitor. 

how to lower testosterone Effect of flaxseed supplementation on serum testosterone in women
Supplementing with flaxseed showed to lower serum testosterone in four months
Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19789727/

The evidence isn’t really definitive on flaxseed supplementation, but as part of an overall total body approach, it may have some efficacy. 

Is There a Medication To Reduce Testosterone in Females?

If all else fails, or your case is more severe, there are medications that can help to lower testosterone.

how to lower testosterone

Birth control 

The standard hormonal contraceptive pill (with estrogen) is effective at regulating hormonal imbalances and regulating menstrual cycles.

Prescription Medications 

There is a large selection of prescription medications that can be very effective at reducing total testosterone levels. Depending on the presentation and/or severity of the condition your doctor can advise you of the best course of treatment.

Common medications include the following:

  • Flutamide
  • Spironolactone
  • Cyproterone

These medications are commonly known as anti-androgens or steroidal anti-androgens, and can be used by men, women and those in gender transition.

Androgen Blockers 

These drugs may reduce the symptoms of your high testosterone but they do not address the underlying cause of the issue.

How to Decrease Testosterone Levels in a Male 

High levels of testosterone are less of a problem in men, far less than low testosterone levels are. 

Regulation can be quite easy with diet and exercise. The food sources listed above, typically what people would associate with healthy eating, would help. Lots of polyunsaturated fatty acids, fresh fruit, and vegetables for example. 

The range of medication listed above is broadly suited to men if the androgens are at clinically significant levels.  

If issues persist, visit your health care professional. 

Are There Supplements To ReduceTestosterone in Males?

Yes, there are. Any of the supplements listed above would work just as well with men. There are no gender-specific treatments, with the exception of the contraceptive pill. 

FAQ

Here is a breakdown of some of the most commonly asked questions regarding high testosterone in women and some of the treatments involved. 

What Happens If a Woman’s Testosterone Levels Are Too High?

Long-term raised levels of testosterone will have a number of wide-ranging effects such as physical/cosmetic changes in the body or poor heart health and heart disease. 

How To Treat High Testosterone in a Woman?

If the underlying reason is a metabolic disorder or PCOS then this needs to be the focus of the treatment. Your doctor will assess you and devise a treatment regime, usually, this can be lifestyle changes or medications.

Conclusion

If you have noted any unwanted changes in your body then high levels of testosterone may be to blame.

Your doctor will highlight any issues but there are many positive steps you can take to lower high insulin and lower high testosterone. 

The effects of high testosterone take a while to manifest. Likewise, the recovery and reset may also take months. With the proper care and attention, you will be fine in no time.  

References

  1. www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(15)00284-3/fulltext. 
  2. Sowers, MF., et al. “Testosterone Concentrations in Women Aged 25–50 Years: Associations with Lifestyle, Body Composition, and Ovarian Status.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Feb. 2001, academic.oup.com/aje/article/153/3/256/80402.
  3. “Testosterone in Women-the Clinical Significance: Request PDF.” ResearchGate, www.researchgate.net/publication/281682673_Testosterone_in_women-the_clinical_significance.
  4. Sheehan, Michael T. “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Diagnosis and Management.” Clinical Medicine &amp; Research, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Feb. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1069067/.
  5. Witchel, Selma Feldman. “Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.” Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5624825/.
  6. AM;, Dillingham BL;McVeigh BL;Lampe JW;Duncan. “Soy Protein Isolates of Varying Isoflavone Content Exert Minor Effects on Serum Reproductive Hormones in Healthy Young Men.” The Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15735098/.
  7. Hamilton-Reeves JM;Vazquez G;Duval SJ;Phipps WR;Kurzer MS;Messina MJ; “Clinical Studies Show No Effects of Soy Protein or Isoflavones on Reproductive Hormones in Men: Results of a Meta-Analysis.” Fertility and Sterility, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19524224/. 
  8. Grant P. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):186-8. doi:10.1002/ptr.2900
  9. Haj-Husein I, Tukan S, Alkazaleh F. The effect of marjoram (Origanum majorana) tea on the hormonal profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled pilot study. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015. doi:10.1111/jhn.12290
  10. Fujita R, Liu J, Shimizu K, Konishi F, Noda K, Kumamoto S, et al. Anti-androgenic activities of Ganoderma lucidum. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;102(1):107–12. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.05.041
  11. Grant P. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):186-8. doi:10.1002/ptr.2900
  12. Kalgaonkar S, Almario RU, Gurusinghe D, et al. Differential effects of walnuts vs almonds on improving metabolic and endocrine parameters in PCOS. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011;65(3):386-393. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.266
  13. Adjarzadeh A, Dehghani Firouzabadi R, Vaziri N, Daneshbodi H, Lotfi MH, Mozaffari-Khosravi H. The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Iran J Reprod Med. 2013 Aug;11(8):665-72.
  14. 15 MInguez-Alarcón, Lidia, et al. “Fatty Acid Intake in Relation to Reproductive Hormones and Testicular Volume among Young Healthy Men.” Asian Journal of Andrology, Medknow Publications &amp; Media Pvt Ltd, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312216/.
  15. 16 Yang, Hyun, et al. “Licorice Ethanol Extract Improves Symptoms of Polycytic Ovary Syndrome in Letrozole-Induced Female Rats.” Integrative Medicine Research, Elsevier, Sept. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6160501/.
  16. 17 Nowak DA, Snyder DC, Brown AJ, Demark-Wahnefried W. The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study. Curr Top Nutraceutical Res. 2007;5(4):177-181.
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