Although estrogen is the primary female sex hormone, testosterone (the male sex hormone) plays a crucial role in women’s health, and it’s vital for them to maintain normal levels.
However, hormone imbalance in women can lead to elevated testosterone levels, which can carry a host of symptoms and issues. Therefore, lowering testosterone becomes a crucial task.
After weeks of research with the help of an endocrinologist, I looked at the implications of elevated testosterone in women, its causes, and how women can support healthy testosterone levels.
Let’s jump right in.
- While women need a certain level of testosterone for normal bodily functions, having too much testosterone may lead to certain issues like acne or excess body hair.
- It is possible for women to lower their testosterone levels naturally or through medication.
- Certain genetic disorders and high blood sugar levels lead to excess testosterone in women.
What Causes High Testosterone in Women?
Certain pre-existing medical conditions or steroid abuse can cause high testosterone in women.
Genetic conditions like PCOS and congenital adrenal hyperplasia can lead to elevated testosterone in women.
Let’s explore some genetic conditions that cause high testosterone in women.
1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
One of the most common causes of high testosterone in women is polycystic ovary syndrome. This hormonal condition affects one in 10 women. Symptoms include male pattern hair growth and infrequent periods .
While not fatal, it can lead to certain complications like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and infertility .
Related: Does Testosterone Increase During Period?
2. High Blood Sugar Levels
As discussed above, unregulated blood sugar leads to many kinds of hormonal balances. It's especially more harmful to women with PCOS.
“Blood sugar dysregulation is at the crux of many hormone imbalances, with elevated testosterone being no exception.”
- Dr. Jolene Brighten, Functional Medicine Naturopathic Physician
3. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)
This condition directly affects a woman’s adrenal glands. The adrenal gland is where your body produces its hormones.
CAH causes your glands to overproduce testosterone, leading to behavioral and physical masculine traits .
Related: Do Women Have Testosterone?
What testosterone does in women, especially when it's elevated, comes with a host of negative symptoms .
Below is a list of some of the most common ones:
- Loss of libido
- Enlarged clitoris
- Irregular periods
- Excessive female hair growth
- Dark and thickened skin
- Deepened voice
- Reduced breast size
- Thinning hair
- Weight gain
- Anxiety and depression
What Are Normal Levels for a Healthy Woman?
The normal testosterone levels for a healthy woman mainly depend on her age.
Testosterone levels in women tend to increase as they get older .
Here are the average ranges of testosterone levels for different age groups of women:
- 7–10 years: 2.69–10.29 ng/dl
- 13–17 years: 16.72–31.55 ng/dl
- 19 years and older: 15–70 ng/dl
How Can Women Lower Their Testosterone Levels?
Women can lower their testosterone levels by making lifestyle changes, eating foods that decrease testosterone production, and, in extreme cases, taking medication.
Let’s dive deeper into specific ways women can lower testosterone naturally.
1. Eating Foods That Affect Testosterone
Here is a list of foods that have been clinically tested to lower testosterone in women:
- Spearmint: A study found that women who drank spearmint tea every day for a month experienced a significant decline in testosterone levels .
- Licorice root: A research study reported that women who ate 3.5 grams of licorice a day experienced 32% lower testosterone after one menstrual cycle .
- Nuts: A small study of 31 women found that walnuts and almonds increased levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which leads to lower testosterone levels  .
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon was found to lower T-levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS (a disorder we’ll cover later) .
- Flaxseed: Consuming flaxseed every day might lower serum and free testosterone levels in women .
- Green tea: Like nuts, green tea also increases levels of SHBG in women and can treat high testosterone symptoms .
- Marjoram tea: In a randomized controlled trial, women received marjoram for a month. Their overall testosterone levels decreased towards the end of the supplementation .
- Fish oil: Certain kinds of fish oil are known to regulate and lower T-levels in women .
While there are many foods that lower T-levels in men, we picked ones that were clinically proven to lower testosterone in women.
Avoiding foods that lead to high testosterone is just as important as eating ones that lower testosterone.
While there isn’t a definitive list of foods that have been clinically proven to increase testosterone in women, our advice would be to generally keep away from foods known to boost testosterone in general.
These would include foods like ginger, oysters, pomegranates, fortified plant milk, green leafy vegetables, onions, and extra virgin olive oil .
2. Balancing Blood Sugar Levels
Control your blood sugar levels by living a healthy lifestyle and eating the right foods.
This will regulate your levels of elevated insulin and insulin resistance that contribute to high testosterone, inflammation, and imbalance hormone levels .
Post-menopausal women with high testosterone should take extra care with balancing their blood sugar levels because they’re more likely to experience insulin resistance, which could lead to diabetes .
To be on the safer side, it’s best to eliminate all sugars and carbs to better manage your blood sugar levels.
3. Consuming More Zinc
Zinc is an essential mineral that can lower testosterone and support ovarian function .
Zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, avocados, cacao, lentils, hemp seeds, and beef may work as testosterone blockers for women with ovary issues.
4. Taking the Right Medication
If the above-mentioned tips don’t work, then it might be time to see a doctor. Speak to your local physician about your symptoms. If they’ve been persisting for a while, chances are you might have a genetic disorder. In this case, medication is your best option to lower testosterone.
What Does Abnormally Low Testosterone Do to a Woman?
Abnormally low testosterone levels in women can cause several negative symptoms.
Some of the most common ones include muscle weakness, reduced sex drive, weight gain, fertility issues, irregular menstruation, decreased bone density, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual satisfaction, sluggishness, and fatigue .
Can a Woman Without Predisposed Genetic Disorders Have Naturally High Testosterone?
Yes, some women without predisposed genetic disorders can have naturally high testosterone levels. Such women may experience symptoms like frontal balding, deepened voice, an enlarged clitoris, acne, and increased muscle mass .
Do Women Who Exercise Have More Testosterone Than Those Who Don’t?
Yes, women who exercise usually tend to have slightly more testosterone than those who don’t . However, elevated testosterone isn’t enough to cause typical high-testosterone symptoms.
The Right Testosterone Levels for a Woman
High testosterone in women can have some adverse side effects. But the good news is that it can be controlled through the right diet, lifestyle, and medication.
The fear of high testosterone levels might dissuade women from working out and lifting weights.
However, you shouldn’t fear, as in my experience, working out has only positive effects on women’s health.
So, if your lifestyle doesn’t involve working out, we believe starting today can really benefit your hormonal health in the long run.
However, if you are consistently working out and eating right, I suggest you take only the recommended T-boosters for women.
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