Q:

What causes high testosterone levels in women?

A:

Overproduction of testosterone in women occurs when the ovaries, fat cells and adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone. All women have testosterone to a certain degree in their bodies, but too much can lead to health problems.

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Testosterone is part of the androgen hormone family. These hormones play an important role to help start puberty, regulate the functionality of certain organs, like the kidneys and liver, and prevent bone loss.

When the female body produces too much testosterone, health issues can occur. High testosterone levels cause acne, excessive hair growth, irregular periods, polycystic ovary syndrome and blood sugar disorders. Too much testosterone can also lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Women who produce too much testosterone have to work hard to treat the health issues raised by the condition. They must maintain a healthy weight through a healthy diet and exercise program. A doctor may prescribe progesterone pills (birth control pills) that must be taken for 10 to 14 days each month. There are some anti-androgen medications, like spironolactone, that may also help.

Women with high testosterone levels who want to become pregnant may find it difficult to do so when they develop polycystic ovary syndrome. However, there are some drugs that may help more than 75 percent of those women conceive a child.

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