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What Are Normal Testosterone Levels For Women?

What Are Normal Testosterone Levels For Women?

By Mike Kocsis | 10 minutes read | Last updated: September 18, 2023 |
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    Testosterone, a predominantly male sex hormone, also plays a significant role in women’s health. While women produce it in a smaller quantity, it is still essential for various functions, including maintenance of libido (sex drive), bone health and muscle mass.

    In women, testosterone is mainly produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone levels in their bodies are approximately 1/10th to 1/20th of those found in men’s bodies. They fluctuate throughout their lives but typically increase during puberty and pregnancy.

    Like men, women can also experience abnormal testosterone levels, leading to health issues like low sex drive and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In this article, we will talk about normal testosterone levels in women to help you determine whether your testosterone is balanced or needs proper treatment. But before we discuss testosterone levels, let’s first see its role in women’s health.

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    Role of testosterone in women’s health

    Testosterone is involved in the following functions in women.

    Libido: Testosterone contributes to maintaining sexual interest and arousal in women. It increases their sexual responsiveness and the energy they need for a satisfying sexual performance.

    Fertility: It is involved in the development and maturation of ovarian follicles (fluid-filled sacs that contain developing eggs). Combined with the female sex hormone, oestrogen, it may also support the growth and maintenance of reproductive tissues.  

    Menstrual health: Testosterone interacts with progesterone and oestrogen to regulate the menstrual cycle in women. The delicate balance of these hormones is required for overall menstrual health.

    Bone health: It is involved in the development of bone in both men and women. It acts on bone cells (osteoblasts) and helps with bone rebuilding. It maintains bone mineral density (BMD), helping reduce the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.

    Muscle mass: Testosterone increases lean muscle mass and strength by stimulating muscle protein synthesis and preventing protein degradation. It may also improve exercise performance.

    Body composition and metabolism: It regulates fat distribution and maintains a healthy weight. By promoting lean muscle mass, it helps the body burn more calories and lose weight.

    Energy levels and mood: It promotes high energy levels, vitality, motivation and a positive sense of well-being. It is also linked to mood regulation.

     

    Normal female testosterone levels

    Female testosterone levels can vary depending on different factors, including age and menstrual cycle stage. According to Mayo Clinic, normal female testosterone levels are:

    Age

    Total testosterone levels (nanograms per deciliter)

    6 months – 9 years

    75-400 ng/dL

    10 years –11 years

    < 7–44

    12 years 16 years

    < 7–75

    17 years –18 years

    20–75

    19 years plus

    8–60

     

    Having normal testosterone levels is essential for overall health. Too much or too little testosterone can produce various health effects. It is important to consult with a hormone specialist if you suspect you have a hormonal imbalance.

     

    Low testosterone in women

    Testosterone levels decline in women as they get older, impacting the production of other sex hormones. However, you can experience low T at any time in your life due to certain medical conditions.

    Symptoms of low testosterone in women

     

    • Women with low testosterone may experience the following symptoms.
    • Low sex drive
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Irregular menstrual cycle
    • Infertility
    • Low libido
    • Loss of bone density
    • Loss of muscle mass
    • Depression
    • Mood changes
    • Lack of energy and motivation

     

    Causes of low testosterone in women

     

    You can become testosterone deficient due to multiple reasons. Old age is one of the most common low T reasons in both women and men.

    As women get older, their ovaries begin to produce less sex hormones like oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Their bodies prepare to enter menopause, a phase in which the menstrual cycle ends and women no longer produce eggs. Their testosterone levels become half of what they were during puberty.

    Some women have a unique genetic makeup that disturbs their testosterone levels. They produce fewer DHEA and DHEA-S compounds which are testosterone precursors. They may also lack the enzymes required to turn DHEA and DHEA-S into testosterone.

    Other low T causes in women are:

    • Removal of ovaries
    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiotherapy
    • Brain tumour
    • Ovarian failure
    • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, hormonal contraceptives, etc.

     

    High testosterone in women

    High testosterone levels in women can be damaging to their reproductive health and physical appearance. If you experience any of the following high testosterone symptoms, discuss them with your healthcare provider for proper analysis and treatment.  

     

    Symptoms of high testosterone in women

     

    • Irregular menstrual cycle
    • Hair loss or thinning
    • Hair growth on the face, chest, back, and abdomen
    • Acne or oily skin
    • Deepening of voice
    • Mood changes
    • Increase in muscle mass, leading to a muscular or athletic appearanc
    • Clitoromegaly (increase in clitoris size)
    • Reduction in breast size

    Remember that having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have high testosterone levels. Many other health conditions can also produce similar symptoms.  

    Causes of high testosterone in women

     

    Common factors that can contribute to high testosterone levels in women are:

    • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
    • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)
    • Adrenal tumours
    • Insulin resistance
    • Hirsutism
    • Congenital conditions
    • Certain medications like hormonal contraceptives

     

    Diagnosis

    Doctors typically review medical history that provides important context about potential hormonal imbalance. They conduct a physical examination to look for signs of testosterone imbalance. If they find abnormal symptoms, they suggest a testosterone test to check serum testosterone levels.

    It is like a simple blood test. Your blood sample is taken in the morning when testosterone levels are the highest. Since testosterone levels fluctuate due to the menstrual cycle, the best time to have this test is after 8 to 20 days of periods.

     

    Women often ask: I am a woman with low testosterone levels. What should I do about it?

    You should first consult a hormone specialist and then work on eradicating the low T cause. For instance, if the lack of sleep or poor diet is disturbing your testosterone levels, you should make some healthy lifestyle changes.

    Some doctors may prescribe Estratests in postmenopausal women as it contains both oestrogen and testosterone. Some may prescribe DHEA supplements to increase your testosterone precursor levels.

    Doctors may also suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), expecting this treatment to produce the same effects in women as it does in men. However, medical researchers are still studying the impact of testosterone administration in women’s bodies. You should thoroughly discuss this treatment with your doctor to find its pros, cons, effects, etc. and then start it if your doctor says so.

    There are different testosterone administration methods. You can have testosterone injections, gels, patches, or pellets based on your doctor’s suggestions or your preferences.

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    What happens if a woman takes testosterone?

    Taking low testosterone doses may help testosterone-deficient women feel better again. It may produce the following effects:

    • Improved sex drive
    • Improved muscle and bone strength  
    • High energy levels
    • Improved cognitive function

     

    What are the side effects of a woman taking testosterone?

    Like any other treatment, testosterone therapy also produces side effects. Some of its potential side effects are:

    • Deepening of voice
    • Facial and body hair development
    • Increase in clitoris size
    • Acne
    • Weight gain  

     

    What is the treatment for high testosterone in females?

    High testosterone treatment for women is chosen based on the underlying cause of the problem. Lifestyle changes can also help them reduce their testosterone levels or manage symptoms.

    Doctors generally prescribe medications like metformin, oral contraceptives, glucocorticosteroids, and progestin to control testosterone production or tackle symptoms.  

     

    FAQs

    How to increase testosterone in females naturally?

    Simple lifestyle modifications may help some women boost their testosterone levels naturally. Some of the effective lifestyle changes for low T are:

    • Maintaining a healthy body weight
    • Getting enough sleep
    • Managing stress
    • Exercising regularly
    • Eating testosterone-boosting foods (foods having healthy fats)

     

    How to treat high testosterone in a woman naturally?

    The following tips may help you reduce your testosterone levels naturally:

    • De-stressing
    • Exercising regularly
    • Eating foods having anti-androgenic effects (fatty fish, flax seed, and spearmint tea)

     

    How to measure testosterone levels in women?

    Testosterone levels are measured in women via a simple blood test. It shows total testosterone, free testosterone, and bioavailable testosterone levels in them.

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    Summing it up

    Although testosterone is a key male sex hormone, it is also essential for women’s reproductive, mental and physical health. Normal testosterone levels are comparatively lower in women than men. They rise or fall throughout their lives.

    High or low testosterone levels in women produce various health effects. Hence, they must be treated on time. Consult with a hormone specialist if you doubt you have a hormonal issue. They will conduct a thorough physical examination and run a few tests to diagnose the problem and prescribe a suitable treatment option.

    References/scientific studies/Bibliography/Further reading

    Donovitz, G.S., 2022. A personal prospective on Testosterone therapy in women—What we know in 2022. Journal of Personalized Medicine12(8), p.1194.

    Panay, N. and Fenton, A., 2009. The role of testosterone in women. Climacteric12(3), pp.185-187.

    Islam, R.M., Bell, R.J., Green, S., Page, M.J. and Davis, S.R., 2019. Safety and efficacy of testosterone for women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trial data. The lancet Diabetes & endocrinology7(10), pp.754-766.

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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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