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women with high testosterone

Unhealthy Testosterone Levels In Women: Causes and Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on March 12, 2020. Written by Libby Pellegrini. Last updated April 6, 2023. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Female testosterone levels | Testosterone in women: what it does | Symptoms of low testosterone in women | Hypoactive sexual desire disorder and low testosterone in women | What causes lower testosterone in females? | How to increase testosterone in women | Symptoms of high testosterone in women | What causes high female testosterone levels? | How to lower testosterone in women | Conclusion

It’s possible for a woman’s testosterone production to be too high or too low. And because testosterone is a key hormone in the body—in women and men alike—abnormal testosterone levels can have quite an impact on your health and well-being.

So keep reading to learn more about unhealthy levels of testosterone in women—including causes and symptoms. You’ll also learn about foods and supplements that can help support healthy testosterone levels in females to help get your body’s hormone levels back on track. (And don’t forget: you can check your testosterone from the comfort of home with the Everlywell hormone test.)


Female testosterone levels

Do women have testosterone? The answer is “yes.” Though testosterone is often thought of as a “male hormone,” it’s actually vital to women as well: normal testosterone levels in women are important for maintaining overall health and well-being. (Related: Low testosterone in men)

In fact, women usually have higher testosterone levels than estradiol levels. (Estradiol is the body’s main form of estrogen, which is commonly viewed as a “female hormone.”)

Testosterone in women: what it does

In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. This hormone helps the body with a number of different functions. For example, normal testosterone levels in women help regulate mood and supports the health of female reproductive tissue and bones. [1] Because of this, symptoms can arise if testosterone levels get too high or too low.

Here are a few key roles testosterone can play in a woman’s health:

  • Maintenance and growth of bones
  • Regulating muscle mass
  • Regulating body fat distribution
  • Supporting a healthy libido or sex drive

So as you can see, normal testosterone production in women can have many beneficial effects. But too much or too little of this hormone can have less-than-positive effects on the body.

Let’s start by discussing low testosterone symptoms.

Symptoms of low testosterone in women

What are some low testosterone symptoms in women? Low libido, weight gain, and changes in mood are all common signs of low testosterone levels. Low testosterone over a long period of time may also contribute to issues like bone loss and a decrease in muscle strength. [1]

Other common signs of low T? [2]

  • Your hair may begin to thin
  • Your skin may become drier
  • Your sex drive may be dampened (one reason why some women with low testosterone choose to undergo testosterone therapy)
  • You might experience loss of muscle tone and strength
  • You may have low energy
  • Vaginal dryness, infertility, and irregular menstrual cycles are some other possible low T symptoms

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder and low testosterone in women

Because testosterone plays a role in libido, women with lower-than-normal levels of testosterone can experience hypoactive sexual desire disorder—or HSDD.

HSDD is considered the most widespread sexual health problem among women, and estimates suggest it occurs in 8% to 19% of women. [3] It’s marked by fewer (if any) sexual fantasies and a lack of interest in sexual activity—along with a lot of personal distress, frustration, sadness, and decreased self-confidence and self-worth. Depression and fatigue often occur with HSDD.

Researchers have yet to pin down the exact causes of HSDD. The extent to which testosterone levels contribute to HSDD is also not well-understood. Low testosterone levels are, however, linked with less sexual desire, and testosterone hormone therapy can boost sexual desire in both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women. [3] But there isn’t an exact T level (whether it's total testosterone or free testosterone) that can be used to diagnose HSDD.

What causes lower testosterone in females?

What’s behind low testosterone levels in women? Here are a few possible causes: [4, 5]

  • Use of certain birth control methods such as combined oral contraceptives (also known as "the pill")
  • Surgical removal of one or both ovaries (oophorectomy)
  • Premature ovarian failure, in which the ovaries stop functioning normally before 40 years of age. (Possible causes of ovarian failure include chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but the most common cause of ovarian failure is menopause. Thus, a menopausal woman may develop abnormal testosterone levels.)
  • HIV infection, pituitary gland disease, and high-dose corticosteroid use can also contribute to testosterone deficiency in women

How to increase testosterone in women

If you want to increase your low levels of testosterone, both natural methods and medication can be considered. Here are some helpful tips and options on how to increase testosterone in women both naturally and with medication: Natural ways to boost testosterone in women:

  • Maintain a balanced diet, including foods rich in healthy fats.
  • Engage in regular exercise, combining cardiovascular and strength training activities.
  • Manage stress levels through techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises. [9]

Medication options to increase testosterone in women:

  • Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can supplement low testosterone levels, delivered through gels, patches, or injections. [8]
  • DHEA supplementation, a precursor hormone that can convert to testosterone in the body, may be considered a testosterone treatment in some instances. [8]
## Symptoms of high testosterone in women

Signs of high testosterone levels in women can include [6]:

  • Excess acne
  • Abnormal hair growth throughout your body (such as on your chest); also known as hirsutism
  • Male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia)
  • Menstrual irregularities are another sign of high levels of testosterone

High female testosterone levels are also linked with an increased risk of infertility. [6] Post-menopausal women with elevated testosterone may be more likely to experience insulin resistance, which can make diabetes more likely. If you have high levels of testosterone, speak with your healthcare provider to learn about treatment options. In some cases, hormone therapy or medication can help get levels back within normal ranges.

What causes high female testosterone levels?

  • Ever come across the acronym “PCOS”? It stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and it’s a hormonal disorder that can cause your body to produce too much testosterone. [7]
  • Steroid use and abuse can hike up your testosterone levels and hormone levels of other androgens (testosterone belongs to a category of hormones known as androgens). [6]
  • Adrenal disorders (like congenital adrenal hyperplasia) can also be at fault for high T levels. [6] These disorders are genetic and often found at birth or during puberty.

How to lower testosterone in women

What lowers testosterone in women? If you're looking for natural ways to lower testosterone, it can help to know that several herbs and other plant-based foods may be able to naturally decrease T levels in women [8]:

  • Licorice – The root of a legume plant native to the Middle East (and nearby regions like southern Europe), licorice may lower testosterone levels when taken daily.
  • Green tea – Aside from being an all-around delicious tea, green tea may also be able to block testosterone from turning into a hormone called DHT – which is similar to testosterone but has much stronger effects on the body.
  • Spearmint – Often consumed in tea form, spearmint may decrease levels of free testosterone in the bloodstream. (Read more: Know the difference between free T and total T)

Also, keep in mind that if you're experiencing high testosterone, it's a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider to learn what their recommendation is.


If your hormone levels fall outside a healthy, normal range, then your health and well-being may be at risk. That’s certainly the case for one's testosterone level: from weight gain and increased body hair to menstrual cycle irregularities and lowered muscle mass, there are a number of symptoms that can occur from abnormal testosterone levels.

In short, testosterone is an essential sex hormone that plays important roles in health across all sexes. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your testosterone levels if you are having symptoms. The Everlywell Women's Hormone Test makes this easy to do at home—giving you accurate information on a key part of your hormonal health, which you can discuss with your healthcare provider.

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  1. Scott A, Newson L. Should we be prescribing testosterone to perimenopausal and menopausal women? A guide to prescribing testosterone for women in primary care. Br J Gen Pract. 2020;70(693):203-204. Published 2020 Mar 26. doi:10.3399/bjgp20X709265
  2. Low Testosterone in Women. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24897-low-testosterone-in-women. Accessed April 6, 2023.
  3. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(16)30596-1/fulltext. Published 2017. Accessed March 12, 2020.
  4. Zimmerman Y, Eijkemans MJ, Coelingh Bennink HJ, Blankenstein MA, Fauser BC. The effect of combined oral contraception on testosterone levels in healthy women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Reprod Update. 2014;20(1):76-105. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmt038
  5. Mazer NA. Testosterone deficiency in women: etiologies, diagnosis, and emerging treatments. Int J Fertil Womens Med. 2002;47(2):77-86.
  6. Hyperandrogenism. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24639-hyperandrogenism. Accessed April 6, 2023.
  7. Dumitrescu R, Mehedintu C, Briceag I, Purcarea VL, Hudita D. The polycystic ovary syndrome: an update on metabolic and hormonal mechanisms. J Med Life. 2015;8(2):142-145.
  8. Grant P, Ramasamy S. An update on plant derived anti-androgens. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2012;10(2):497-502. doi:10.5812/ijem.3644
  9. Testosterone therapy in women: What we know. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed March 12, 2020.
  10. Testosterone therapy: Is it for women? Harvard Health Publishing. URL. Accessed March 12, 2020.
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