Many women with high levels of a form of testosterone called “free” testosterone have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), marked by irregular or absent menstrual 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.
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.