Causes of high testosterone levels

Written by keith jajko
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Causes of high testosterone levels
Testosterone is what fuels a man's facial hair growth. (dreitagesbart image by Klaus Eppele from

Testosterone is an anabolic steroid that promotes facial and pubic hair growth, deepening of the voice and growth of male sexual organs. High testosterone levels can pose both beneficial and detrimental health changes in both sexes.

Testosterone Production

Testosterone is an androgen steroid hormone generated in both men and women. It is typically associated with men--it is, after all, the main male sex hormone. Testosterone is also produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands of women.

Considerations for High Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels in our bodies can change due to one of two reasons: natural production and artificial production. In men, the testes mainly produce testosterone, and the pituitary gland manages it. In women, the ovaries, placenta and adrenal glands produce much smaller amounts of the hormone. Testosterone is synthesizable and therefore can be produced artificially for injection or oral intake in the quest for various health benefits, such as bone strength and ovarian function.

Health Significance

For those not artificially altering their body's balance, high testosterone levels can have other causes. For both sexes, testosterone derives from cholesterol. A high fat-protein diet, particularly one not supplemented by consistent cardiovascular exercise, can raise testosterone levels.

Beyond diet, women can be prone to high testosterone levels due to causes such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. Estimates range from 5 to 10 per cent regarding how many women are affected. Symptoms can include weight gain, abnormal masculine-associated traits and irregular ovulation or menstruation. PCOS is one of the top causes of infertility. While PCOS causes are non-definitive, suspicions parallel something outlined above: diet. While a high fat-protein diet can result in high testosterone levels, diabetes and obesity are thought to contribute to PCOS.

Another cause for high testosterone levels in women could be Cushing's syndrome, though a link has not been proven. Cigna states that high testosterone levels could indicate that a woman suffers from Cushing's.

Benefits and Drawbacks for High Testosterone Levels

High testosterone levels in women can cause male-pattern hair growth on the face and chest, known as hirsutism. High testosterone levels can also lead to increased muscle mass, a deeper voice, acne and abnormal perspiration. It is known to negatively affect reproduction functions.

More Insight Into High Testosterone Levels

For men, high testosterone levels can result in increased heart attack risk, prostate enlargement, acne, fluid retention, increased muscle mass and, believe it or not, low sperm counts. Though not proven, high testosterone levels have been known to cause abnormally aggressive behaviour and mood swings in men.

Women with high testosterone levels can experience a deepened voice, breast-size reduction and other complications such as smaller babies if the high levels occur during pregnancy. Medical News Today reported in April 2006 the findings of a study that concluded high testosterone levels during pregnancy results in smaller babies.

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